Tuesday, 5 December 2017

How I survived the Standard Chartered Singapore (half) Marathon

I know I blogged earlier I wasn't joining this year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

Then two weeks ago, I came across someone selling his half marathon slot online for $70 (usual is $95) and I couldn't resist.

Apart from a very late flag-off for my wave, I have no complaints about Sunday's race.

But many people did.

Enough for the organiser to issue an apology:

Why wasn't I affected?

Let me address the issues one by one.


I wasn't affected by this because I never bring a bag to a race.

I carry all the stuff I need (ez-link card, cash, ATM card, credit card, key) in my shorts pockets, Sprigs wrist wallet and sometimes a waist pouch.

Sure, there are times I wish I brought fresh clothes and footwear to change into after a sweaty race, but it's really not worth the queue to deposit my bag and then again to collect it.

Apparently, the bag deposit delay also had the ripple effect of some hired buses not being allowed to drop off runners at the designated area due to the long queues, and hence the delayed flag-off.

It might have also led to the next complaint.


Finisher tees are only for those running the full marathon. I was in the half.

So not being fit enough to complete 42km saved me from this hassle.


I didn't use the app.

So I didn’t have the problems that many others did.

Unless you count the late flag-off.

Because of the long wait for the flag-off, runners were literally just sitting around.

Flag-off was supposed to be at 4.30am. I didn't cross the start line until after 5.

But I like that the start line was at Orchard Road. This was the main reason I wanted to join the race.

The first half of the route was great, going past Bugis, Jalan Sultan, Chinatown and Robinson Road, and then it was same old, same old around Marina Bay again.

For 5km, I was still on pace to run 21km in less than two and a half hours. Then the 2h 30m pacers passed me.

After 10km, I just didn't care about my time anymore and started walking, interrupted by occasional jogging, usually when I approached a hydration point (or see a photographer).

Because of my year of injuries, I've been skittish about training and lost the motivation to push myself.

Also, I needed to pee.

As I was walking, I spotted Singapore's Blade Runner ahead of me.

A post shared by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

I walked behind (and beside) him for a while before working up the courage to ask him for a selfie.

He said he was doing the full marathon and complained about the humidity.

I told him I interviewed him at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon a few years ago for The New Paper and he remembered the article.

Then I saw the 2h 45m pacers catching up and decided to chase them for a few hundred metres before giving up again.

I was highly entertained by this guy’s shirt.

I jogged for the final kilometre because I didn't want pictures taken of me walking.

My eventual time was 3h 41s.

EARLIER: Running 10km in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016

Monday, 4 December 2017

Big lizard under MRT train: Iguana tell you, gecko of my tail!

Dear monitor lizard under MRT train,

You’re a pain in the caboose.

Being a monitor lizard, you probably don’t know what a caboose is. So you don’t appreciate what a sophisticated joke I just made.

The caboose refers to the end of the train.

So what I’m saying is that you’re a pain in the backside but with rail terminology because you were found under a train. Get it?

Trust me. After a few more million years of evolution, you’ll find it hilarious.

So why are you a pain in the caboose?

Because over the past two months, SMRT had already suffered enough bad publicity of almost biblical proportions.

A flooding, a fire, a collision, a lightning strike, eight SMRT staff members dismissed over the flooding and a partridge in a pear tree.

And now you?

I really didn’t want to write a fourth consecutive column about SMRT, but here we are.

Because of you.

What were you doing under the train at the Bishan depot last Tuesday anyway?

You know the queue for the new Gong Cha outlet is at the SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar, right?

Of course, there were jokes about how you just wanted to lend a helping claw to the SMRT maintenance crew.

“Give the poor lizard a break,” wrote someone on Facebook. “It came to help u guys. Since u guys can’t do the maintenance check properly, let the lizard do it.”

Maybe instead of just shortening train operating hours and closing 19 stations for two Sundays, SMRT should also hire more lizards.

Any friends to recommend?

I understand the company has at least eight job vacancies to fill.

Another person commented online: “‘MONITOR’ lizard was an independent auditor and observer checking on the maintenance.”

Get it? You’re a monitor lizard, so you were there to “monitor” the situation. LOLz. We humans are so funny.

But then others suggested you could be the new scape-reptile for our MRT’s problems after the aluminium foil balloon, the resignalling project, deep-seated cultural issues and life.

One commenter declared: “Finally the culprit for all the MRT breakdowns had been found, no more train breakdowns from now onwards, hurray!”

That should be a huge relief to Mr Khaw Boon Wan, our Transport Minister.

But some people are also not happy with the way the SMRT workers were poking you with a dustpan and dragging you by the tail in the viral video.

You didn’t look very happy in the video either.

I guess I wouldn’t like to be poked with a dustpan and dragged by the tail either.

But then I wouldn’t be loitering under the train at the depot either.

If I were, I probably deserved to be poked with a dustpan and dragged by the tail.

But then you’re a lizard and you probably don’t know any better, no offence.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society deputy chief executive Kalai Balakrishnan said: “The presence of many people and the use of sticks to prod the lizard, which was most likely a water monitor, and the dragging of its tail can cause the animal to get very stressed.”

I wonder if you weren’t discovered in time, could you have actually caused a train breakdown?

That would cause many, many humans to be very stressed.

I dread the day SMRT has to tweet: “Please add one hour to train travel time due to lizard fault.”

Like I said, you’re a pain in the caboose.

By the way, can you do me a favour and please stop startling my wife when she goes jogging at Pang Sua Canal?

Next, I have to write an open letter to those damn otters at the airport and the wild boar at the bus interchange.

Even they don’t trust trains.

- Published in The New Paper, 4 December 2017

Monday, 27 November 2017

Running the Big Walk again (2017 edition)

The last time I joined the Big Walk was during SG50.

I ran to be first across the finish line, but didn't get directions because I wasn't wearing the Big Walk T-shirt and went the wrong way and ended up not first.

Yesterday morning, I wore the T-shirt but still ended up fourth (I think).

That was because I arrived at the start line too late and was stuck behind too many walkers.

For the first time, I saw President Halimah Yacob, who flagged off the Big Walk this year. She's very short.

A post shared by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

I certainly wasn't the only person running the Big Walk.

I overtook this guy, but then he later overtook me just before the finish line, the bastard.

Total distance: 8.5km.

So it appears my running year isn't over yet.

EARLIER: Running the Jubilee Big Walk: I could've been first, but I didn't wear the T-shirt


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