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Arrowhead 135, (1/4): Connecting with My Fluffy Team

I had started this event as a girl and finished the event as a lady!

Some background

This is a 135 mile event that has to be completed within a 60 hour limit

You can run, bike or ski. Temperatures can go down to -50 degs C as it did in 2014 and bit my fingers.

It is held at the end of January as this typically has the worst weather and starts at International Falls, a town on the US/Canadian border. It should be known as Killer Frost Falls but not to put off visitors, it is called the Icebox of the Nation. The route is along a snowmobile trail, which is mostly along the Arrowhead Trail. It is very reasonably priced at $200 USD. You are expected to carry all your own survival gear and boil water if you have to. There are 3 checkpoints along the entire route and a snowmobile rescue will come out if you call for one.

Know how to use your gear and ensure you have the right gear for your own safety. The official website is here: http://www.arrowheadultra.com

I went hunting for the Ice Dragon 2012 and 2014. Both times the dragon kicked me off and in 2014 bit my fingers as a warning.

2012 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra-pulling-for-peace

2014 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra

2018 would be my 3rd attempt.

Many sprouted the “3rd time lucky” motto. I really dislike this phrase as it feels like you can keep trying and luck will somehow intervene on your 3rd attempt and miraculously make everything happen. How about 1st time lucky or 2nd time lucky or nth time lucky? Load of hash browns & fish fingers if you ask me. Am happy that I did fail the first two times. It taught me to be more respectful of the environment, and how to better equip myself in my mind, body and soul. Failure happens because we fail to prepare in areas that need strengthening. God likes proactive people. The Bible is littered with “proactive” people doing great things who have been both physically, mentally and spiritually prepared to go forward.

To prepare, I found a shorter event to complete in the form of Rovaniemi 150 (150 kilometres). In this event, Isaiah 40:29-31 and Matthew 14:22-33 whispered continually in my ear.

https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/65-rovaniemi-150-luck-angels-and-lsd/

So 150K completed, and now with my newfound confidence, I no longer wanted to hunt the dragon, but was ready to tame the great Ice Dragon of Arrowhead.

Arrowhead Preparations

9 December 2017 completed my last long run along the North Downs Way of 30 miles with my buddy Paddy. December and January are administrative months with the taxman thumping on my door, so training was limited to strengthening the Achilles and lower back with stair dips and back exercises respectively, interspersed with about 10 miles a week to keep the body going.  At the same time, I visualised the route to the first two Arrowhead checkpoints, seeing what I was doing, how I was feeling. In my mind, once I had got to the second checkpoint in good time, then I could play it by ear. Rome marathon taught me the power of visualisation.

17 January 2018: Finished personal tax, dumped winter gear onto sled and flew out to the US on the morning of 18 January.

I dropped in to visit my adopted US family that has been part of this learning journey on my last two attempts; who cared for me when I limped back to them. It was also to pick up important team members:

  • Bisaniiwewin (16-18 lb tyre) – Lynn, an Arrowhead finisher, had organised the tyre to be brought up by Jason – a dedicated athlete & Arrowhead multi-finisher.
  • Princess Suma – a peace penguin and daughter of an Emperor
  • Pinky – a fluffy dog full of love
  • Sharkey – to provide aggression to help me attack the route when needed
TeamMembers

Pinky and Sharkey in the picture; Princess Suma is absent as out playing in the snow

The plan was to go to International Falls the week before to get some R & R as the last two attempts, my very jetlagged brain hated starting at 7am. 2012/2014 taught me to arrive with plenty of time to keep the mental side calm. In 2014, I was still in the toilet when the start had kicked off.

22nd January 2018: A snow storm visited Minneapolis and all flights were cancelled to International Falls. Plans scuppered temporarily and instead a snow shoveling workout would have to be sufficient.

SnowShovelled Drive

Left: Shoveled Drive; Right: Snowstorm

23rd January 2018: More snow shoveling to get out of the drive. Managed to strain a muscle in the peck. So pathetic!

Arnica

Arnica to the rescue

You’re Going No Where

I laid my cardboard boxed sled next to the rope barrier that guided passengers to collect their boarding pass and informed a “check in” service lady that I was just leaving the sled to queue to get my pass. As I went to the back of the queue she calls out:

Check-in Lady1: “Are you checking that in?”

“Yes” I replied

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm, that is rather big and will be $200 USD to go through”

“Ok” I replied a little puzzled

Check-in Lady1: “Where are you going?”

“International Falls”

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm. Come on over, I’ll check you in”

I was grateful, but as I followed her to her counter another lady who was managing the Boarding Pass line calls out to me and tells me that I need to go pick up my boarding pass first.

Check-in Lady1: “It’s okay, I’ve got this”

Check-in Lady2 comes over to me, and wags her finger at me, annoyed that I was “jumping the queue”, telling me what I was doing was not right and what I should be doing.

I looked at her, trying to give her a puppy dog confused look (Pinky’s head was peering out of my coat at the time) and she wagged her finger further. After her tirade at me, I responded “Thank you for letting me know”. She then turned away and returned to the other passengers.

In the meantime, Check-in Lady1 had taken out her measuring tape, ummed and ahhed: “This isn’t going to fit in the hold. It’s a small plane. Look it is one inch too long! I am not going to check you in because we cannot guarantee this will get on with you. You need to go to Specials and send this some other way”

Anxious and confused, I borrowed a trolley and took the sled over to Specials, leaving it near the front and joined the queue. There were two service women on one side and two service men on the other. I wished to see a man as have been “unlucky” with the check in women at St Pauls in the past. I remember having baggage of 51.5 lbs and was told to take out 1.5lbs of gear or be charged an excess weight. 1.5lbs is about the weight of a pair of socks! One of the men called me over and I explained that the other lady would not check me in as she thought my sled would be too big for the hold. He asked to see the sled. I placed Pinky and Sharkey on the counter top, introduced them to him……and he greeted each one of them as I went to pull over the trolley with my sled to his counter.

BoxedSled.JPG

Check-in man: “Yup looks no problem”

Me: “Really?”

Check-in man: “Yup and when I sign it, it will be on that plane”

My anxiety dropped and we had a nice conversation about the Arrowhead event.

Check-in man: “Now have a great event and don’t get frostbite”

Me: “I love you sir. Thank you”

Yeah I went a bit mushy as I just experienced night and day and a good reminder that an event can start off negative, but just got to believe in the positives. A pat on the head to Pinky

Catch Up and Final Preps

I would catch up with the amazing Rachel and her equally wonderful and loving friend Renata at St Paul’s airport.

Meeting Rachel

Rachel had decided to see this dragon that I had chatted about when she was doing Rovaniemi 300 and I was doing Rovaniemi 150. Her friend Renata came to support her. We shared a room and the organisation of each of us couldn’t be more different:

  • Rachel was so well organised and ready to try out her gear
  • I was still sorting out stuff, deciding on what I should take on the trail. My kit exploded into piles of mess in the room and I couldn’t find a thing….but it had been a long day and bed reeled us in early.

24th – 28th January 2018

Being part of the “Last Minute” club, I was still sorting out gear, purchasing another set of lights and carabineers, sewing on reflective tape onto my harness and gluing the over boots onto my running shoes (as suggested by Ray Sanchez – another participant). The tireless Jerald and Sandy (owners of the Voyageur Motel) were soooo helpful having all the tools to help make all the last minute adjustments. So many more thank yous to them both and hope they can find good people to work in their motel.

At the same time, Bill Bradley, whose team had helped me get around when my fingers had been burned in 2014, was at the motel. He was doing his 7th attempt and had concerns. We concluded that with the right reasons for completing an event, the negative and disappointment that can be felt from fellow competitors who quit can be deflected…..and off I went to do some sled practice with Bill. Bill is like a big brother, who I want to help just as much as he cares for others (myself included).

Video of Sled Practice

The undertaking to organise this event is huge, and so offered my services to help out. We were given a special project to put fluorescent tape on the posts.

Preparing Posts

Yup – Pinky (Ray) staples the tape onto the post, Princess S (Bill) cuts the tape and Sharkey (Me) sticks the tape onto the posts.

During the week, Ray and Bill pitched in to help create the posts that would guide participants along parts of the route, and on Saturday we loaded and unloaded two trucks of gear to Baccus – the registration area. We would have happily done more, except we all still had to do last minute preparations. I was still sewing the reflective tape onto my harness to prepare for the 4 o’clock registration.  Jason also dropped by to present Bisaniiwewin…..the animals brought her in.

The Animals Bring Bisaniiwewin to Tyre Lady

GearCheck

Mandatory Gear Check

Saturday at 17:30 had organised a dinner date with Al – a Canadian who I had met on my last 2 attempts at Gateway and always got me food. I must have looked pathetic! He would be helping and supporting some other racers this time round and great for my Swiss buddies to meet someone new.

By Sunday, my gear was finally ready to do a test run with my entire entourage. I had made some minor changes to the Rovaniemi gear, carrying more food and an extra emergency down jacket for the extra cold. It roughly weighed 40lbs (about 20kgs).

TEsting the Trail

The team testing the trail

Rachel and I ran over to the Baccus for the pre-race briefing, and I hung around after for the pasta dinner to chat with Stephen and Erv the oldest man in the event at 75 young years. Great to see the dinner now uses ceramic plates instead of the single use plastic polystyrene in previous years. In the future, hope they get rid of the plastic cups for drinking, perhaps encourage the participants to Bring Their Own Cup as provided in the goody bag!

PastaDinner

Pasta Dinner on Reusable Dishes

The only part missing now was sleep. A sleepless night on Saturday night and a chopped up sleep on Sunday night.

The difference between quitting and finishing is having the right reasons for completing an event. Without those reasons, it is so easy to quit when the going gets tough.

Next post: The Taming of the Ice Dragon

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Race To The Kings: Finale

Previously…

James, my number one fan, has encouraged me to write a final post to get this wrapped up. The review & compilation process has been a real challenge. Listening to the sound of my own voice has been like doing a tax return…..enough said. The latter is now done (only took 8 months to complete!)

Rules of an Ultra Singing Challenge

  1. The event has to cover an ultra distance (anything more than 26.2 miles / 42 km)
  2. The minimum number of songs sung must match the number of miles run and must be a different song so if you are doing a 50K that is about 31 miles and 31 unique songs must be sung.
  3. At least one complete unique verse must be sung from a song.
    1. If a wrong word is sung, it must still match the context of the original meaning
      1. Example 1: The word “quiet’ is not the same as “mighty”
        The Lion King song is ….”in the jungle the mighty jungle” which is different to …”in the jungle, the quiet jungle”However it could have been sung ….”in the jungle the powerful jungle” and this would have been accepted.
      2. Example 2: Providing changes in words means the entire song must be sung with the different words. 12 Days of Christmas song:“On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me. An I-phone and a charger” is contextually similar to

        “On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me. A partridge in a pear tree”

        However, in order for the verse to be ratified, the entire song needs to be sung so that the contextual changes can be understood within the entirety of the song.

    2. It should be noted a “chorus” is a part of the song that is repeated throughout the song. A “verse” from a song is unique within the song.
  4. A maximum of one children’s nursery song will be accepted
  5. All songs sung on the route MUST be recorded and a rough location identified when the song was sung.
  6. Any songs without a recording will not be accepted even if everyone says you sang the song.
  7. All songs must be uploaded and words verified.

 

Back to finishing RTTK…

By CP 7 you would have thought enough valid verses would have been sung. However, during the night portion, even though I thought my brain was lucid, it could not even remember how to sing Jingle Bells. Perhaps this was due to the darkness and lack of visual stimulation causing the brain to move into suspend mode and thus the synaptic neural system was not coonnecting. The lack of sleep temporarily corrupted sectors of the brain which would been restored in my sleep phase. Two healing hormones are produced when we sleep and we get a clean up in deep sleep, just like when you reboot a computer.

As the morning continued and the distant spark of light melted the darkness away, the song list sung continued to 19 more songs: two were repeats and again sung incorrectly and here’s the rest…

The Christmas Phase

#44 Oh Come All Ye Faithful (accepted)

Disallowed
– Jingle Bells due to being abandoned
– Amazing Grace due to the context being incorrectly sung “saved” is not the same as “blind”. Yeah harsh but the rules are there to make the challenge!

The Children’s Phase

#45 Hey Big Spender

#46 Are You Sleeping (Frere Jacques)

Disputed
2 Little Tigers – A Chinese Children’s song was sung as 3 little mice. The question has arisen as to what happened to the 3rd mouse.

Disallowed:
– 12 Days of Christmas – entire song will need to be sung if the decision is made to change a verse

Dawn Phase

#47 What A Feelin from Flash Dance

#48 I’ll Come Back and See You Again – Freddy and the Dreamers

Disallowed:
– He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
– Singapura, Oh Singapura

The Final 3 miles

#49 I’m just a Girl Who Can’t Say No

#50 Oh Mac Donald’s – accepted as the one nursery song  allowed

#51 Sorry

#52 High Hopes

Disallowed:

– I’m a Tyre Girl – not a complete song (same as 12 Days of Christmas)

Results

At this moment in time it looks like only 52 unique verses from 52 songs have been sung. This is one short of the 53 miles and will mean a DNF of this event from the total. However one song is still under review as it is a song that the Tyregirl had created many moons ago. If this one song can be made “proper” by the end of 2018, then this event will be counted in the final total.

So there you have it…currently 52 unique verses from 52 songs over 53 miles with a tyre called Freeus-Blod and one is under review for the year.

This event will be marked as “pending acceptance” into the total count. For now we will discount it.

Tyrelady – you’re gonna have to try harder!

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A Glowing Feeling of Change

TucksmansModel

Tuckmans Model from Shift-IT 

My highly performing bunch of 40 volunteers pretty much dived into Norming and Performing. There really wasn’t time for the first two stages of Tucksman model. Cuifen and I seemed to hit it off pretty immediately and when the rest of the amazing Green Ambassadors came on board, the team were immediately coming forward with ideas and taking on responsibilities that were part of their skill set to get tasks completed.

More blessings came in the penultimate week, with Cuifen picking up a photographer, another community clean up volunteer, a much needed banana marshal and a banana mascot 2 days before the event. Yes a banana mascot. Ivan volunteered to be our most amazing mascot ever and gave trash education, cajoled, enticed and encouraged the crowd to get their banana skins in the bin or hit the person holding the bin!

BananaMacot at Play

And although everything might not have gone to plan, the Green Ambassadors dealt with it.

Expo – Bin It

Though there was some information in the info leaflets, Nicholas and Sharon took the initiative to remind runners to keep the course clear of trash at the Expo.

SharonNicholas

 

Sssh There’s a Tyre on Site

With the help of June, Greenie / Greenit made it over to the Ironman site office at the Padang, to errrr inspire and encourage the organisation. Hope Greenie GreenIt behaved herself.

Greenie

 

Banana Skin Bins

Veolia provided six bins specially for the banana skins, but it was up to us to differentiate the bins from the rest. There was a spark of light coming from an online community (Journey to Zero Waste, Sg) in the form of Wai Sen. 5 days before the event, this bundle of energy came on board and dived straight into the performing side coming up with ideas and then picking up kit for the team and scrounging around in market dumpsters for abandoned cardboard boxes to execute those ideas. Cuifen definitely was my right hand woman, and Wai Sen became my left hand woman: who brought in Kampong Sengang to support us with kit and printing as well as Funatics to happily sponsor inflatable bananas.

And tada we now had bin decorations at the Padang and funky looking banana marshals to interact with the runners to collect their banana skins.

On the Day

The Better Trails team of 5 kicked it off at 2am to prepare for the oncoming 45,000 runners. Their mission was to perform an impact assessment / green audit of the 1/2 marathon route during and after the event. It would be a long day for them.

BetterTrailsTeam

Next up were the Half marathon and Full marathon runners, Bin It bibs to the ready and their own BYOB

SiliaMax

At 6am –  Wai Sen and Jim needed guidance to find the best place to get to the banana point location. Of course I was up with my team to ensure they were all well. The internet is an amazing tool that helped me guide them to the nearest location to avoid the road closures.

BananaMarshalPickupBananaCollectionJim

Pledges

Pledges collected

And then the Trash Marshals trooped in. They handled any “issues” with perfect adaptability. After all plans are simply guidelines. A highly performing team will adapt to the situation and make stuff happen.

The runners came through and despite their very early morning start, some stayed on to double up on their role as Trash Directors and Pledge Collectors.

TrashDirectorsPadang

Trash Directors and Runners

Am proud of those 40 ambassadors who came forward to make an impression amongst 45,000 runners. We estimate about 350kg of banana skins were diverted from the landfill. This is about the fifth of the bananas that were made available to the runners that day.

How Effective Were the Contracted Cleaners After the Event?

Mechanical cleaners were used on the main route along the ECP. Sadly stuff that ended up in the grass that were not at check points were neglected. 10 green ambassadors did a cross check of the area, some having started their day at 6am as Trash Directors and ending the day as Community Clean Up.  About 3 bags of trash were picked up. Here are examples of  items the group found 2 metres on either side of 8km of the route: sponge, blinky light as this event starts in the dark, the nasty gel packets, soles of shoes, bottle caps, caffeine tablets, sun block.

This is a reminder to events to look on either side of the course. Thank you to the green ambassadors for putting up with the mosquitos!

CCUCLeanUpTeam

How Effective Were The Bin It Ambassador Runners?

Bearing in mind there were only 15 runners amongst 45,000 runners, and thus there would still be running tossers, Ambassador runners were seen. Here are some comments from sgrunners which  is a running forum.

Comment1

Comment3

Just like any fire, we got the tinder going, and then we added some kindling. Now  we need the fire wood…… The Public Health Council would like to collaborate.

May this initiative be duplicated, morphed and allowed to burn bright.

To the Green Ambassadors, thank you for your enthusiasm, passion, and energy to make this green initiative happen. Green Ambassadors you are now ready to lead….

 

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A Step Closer to No More Trashy Events

My vision is to see more effort and responsibility towards the amount of trash outdoor events generate by all parties (organisation, participants and volunteers); from the generation to the disposal and beyond. To see a clean, green attitude as a norm and not as an exception.

Earlier this year, I finally got a bite from the Singapore Marathon. Met with the organisers on the 20th October, who were open and agreed to many of the initiatives. This would mean about a month to make some changes in the way the organisation would normally operate, to the way the volunteers would encourage runners and finally the education the participants and public will receive.

At the same time, if this goes really well, other organisations will want help as they will need to raise their game! So the challenge would be to inspire as many as possible who will want to replicate the initiative in other organisations. To do this, I would need to stay away from Singapore as this would force everyone to be involved. It would also be a personal challenge to organise and build virtual relationships.

Thankfully, whilst in Singapore, this lone wolf found a buddy to collaborate with, in the form of Cuifen, an enthusiastic environmentalist who wanted to be part of the deal. Despite knowing very little about each other, we have complimented each other over and over again with being as upfront and as open as possible. It has been pure bliss to collaborate with someone who has similar goals, who wants to see a social “we” goal rather than a personal egotistical “I” goal and ideas are recognised between the two of us.

She has certainly been a huge resource, meeting various organisations on my behalf, helping me create and develop documentation. I have sat long days for a month behind a computer, tapping away on a keyboard as Singapore is 8 hours ahead of the UK. Between the two of us we have gathered a group of 28 enthusiastic volunteers who also want to see change in the way mass events are organised and allowed to operate.

And everyone has certainly played a role in progressing this forward.

Marinna conceived “Bin It” at the 2XU 50K marathon and we flew with it; Chun Yeow stepped in to make my clumsy logo look amazing; Hangzhong, Wayde, Sharon, and more recently Wai Sen have all taken action to progress the initiatives forward. I feel blessed to have this amazing, enthusiastic team as energy generates more energy.

The Initiatives

We thought that intermingling with runners to educate runners to simply “bin their trash” would help break the mentality of runners who simply follow what other running tossers do. So we got some runners sponsored and other runners came on board with their own registrations to be sign mules, as well as to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and to be an example to disposing of their running trash in the correct manner. These runners will be spread amongst the pack, having marathon completion times ranging from 2:45 to 6:30, to help remind runners to “Bin It” plus more. After all it is about the social responsibility message that each of these runners will spread to other runners.

GreenAmbassadorRunners

To help us reduce the amount of trash that will go to landfill, the Singapore Marathon organisation will provide recycle bins at the end point (Padang) as well as special bins for banana skins. To help facilitate our request for these bins, we have “Trash Directors” to ensure the public put their trash in the right bins correctly and responsibly. At the Padang, over 50,000 500ml plastic bottles and over 50,000 cans of isotonic will be made available to participants & volunteers. If we can ensure that as much as possible goes into the right bins, Veolia (the cleaning contractors) will recycle all that goes in the recycle bins (plastic bottles and cans). Our volunteers will BYOB to again reduce the amount of trash that is generated from our involvement.

GreenAmbassadorVols

Along the East Coast Park, close to the two banana points, we will have Banana Marshals to separate the banana skin waste from the rest of the trash, so that as much as possible can go towards composting. All banana skins will be sent to community gardens / made into a composting mix.

The Padang and East Coast Park banana points will have approximately, in total close to 50,000 finger bananas provided to the runners. Only one banana point is has been ignored as we could not get enough volunteers to be banana marshals.

To encourage the Singapore Marathon’s volunteers to be proactive and help change the behaviour of “Tossers”, we hope a video will be sufficient for them to view as well as hope they will get involved with us.

At all points the Green Ambassadors will be taking videos and photos to observe behaviour during and after the event to see if the campaign has worked. Finally after the cleaning contractors have been through, more Green Ambassadors will complete a cross check of a section that has in the past had run away trash. I hope they find nothing.

And by doing all of this, we the Green Ambassadors of the Singapore Marathon hope we set a precedent for other mass outdoor events in Singapore.

Thank you to Ironman Asia, who organise this event, for believing in us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver a stronger green initiative for everyone.

https://singaporemarathon.com/towards-green-marathon/

Bring on the 3rd December, the Green Ambassadors are ready! And note this day as a turning point for other outdoor urban events in Singapore and beyond to raise their game.

Other Supporters:

Kampong Sengang: http://kampungsenang.org/

Funatics: https://www.funantics.com.sg/

 

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Achieving Beyond a Best Time

A personal record or personal best (frequently abbreviated to PR or PB) is an individual’s best performance in a given sporting discipline. It is most commonly found in athletic sports, such as track and field, other forms of running, swimming and weightlifting.

Source: Wiki Definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_record

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the majority of runners who enter a marathon or ½ marathon or 10 km run are doing it for the personal challenge. Less than 1% will actually put in the time and effort of an elite runner: that is training twice a day, doing 100-160 miles a week.

For professional athletes, a best time is nice to achieve but it is not the total measurement of how the athlete performed.

Yet if you talk to many non-professional runners, you would think the time element of a PB is the only component that defines a PB. Runners’ can be upset for days recounting the story of how they could have beaten their PB if they just ran that bit faster, or runners’ depression sets in when they haven’t seen sight of a best time for days, weeks or months.

Parkrun (a worldwide free 5K event that happens every Saturday) sets out some performance elements:

  • Personal best time
  • Personal Parkruns you’ve completed
  • Number of times you have volunteered to help the Parkrun community

Defining a Personal Best in a Run

If a PB = Best Performance, then a PB can relate to a culmination of many aspects, that can be treated like milestones. In addition to time, you can have a PB in your preparation, conduct and effort.

Preparation

This means you can have multiple PBs in an event:

  • How much preparation did you really put in?
  • Were you able to put in more than your effort on the day?
  • Have you PBed in your conduct? ….”Hmmmm” I hear you say…

Conduct

Your preparation should have included reading up on the rules of conduct for the event. Follow the guidelines below and you can say you PBed in your conduct. These are some typical rules of conduct:

  • For road events, keep on the inside close to the curb unless you’re over taking. In places like the UK & Singapore, keep on the left, unless overtaking on the right.
  • Drop all trash into a bin to keep the course clear and safe for other users and to prevent “run-away” trash.
    RunnerPutInBin

    • Dropping your trash on the floor can cause other runners to slip/skid/trip causing them injury

BananaSkin Slip.JPG

    • Dropping your trash on the floor can create “run-away” trash:

Run-AwayTrash

  • If you run past the bins, then hold onto your trash until you come to a checkpoint. There are several bins there to deposit your rubbish.
    • TyreLadyBelieve me, you have the strength to carry a couple of grams to the next checkpoint….I drag a 10kg tyre! It just takes a little more effort and 1km is short compared to the distance you will achieve! In the Singapore Marathon there are bins about every 20 metres in the ECP area.
    • If it is a gel packet, then put it into your short’s pocket/underwear or for women put it into your bra top. For the “euwwers” out there, you are smelly and sticky anyway, or carry a small bag for your trash.SuperHeroVolunteer
  • Thank the volunteers for their time and help. They’ve been out longer than you, setting up and then waiting to help & encourage you. At the Singapore Marathon, many will have been setting up checkpoints since midnight, and then waiting for runners from 04:30 onwards. Give them energy and they will give you energy back.

 

  • Look out for each other. You are an immediate hero when you help someone.

Effort

The effort you can expand will depend on both your physical and mental preparation.  On the saying “90% mental, 10% physical” Ross, a sports scientist, says:

An athlete who lacks talent is exposed, as a junior in many cases, and never reaches the Olympic Games.  An athlete who has abundant talent, but lacks the mental edge, may fade into obscurity because they don’t have the drive or discipline to train, or because they don’t compete well.

The athlete who lacks confidence or self-belief stands out among the crowd eventually – they reach the “highest level of insecurity”, if you will, before being exposed, often spectacularly.  On the other hand, the athlete who lacks talent often disappears into the middle of the pack and obscurity.  Perhaps this is why we have identified mental aspects as so crucial, the source of the 90-10 principle?

Source: http://sportsscientists.com/2010/02/the-mental-edge-thoughts-and-opinions/

And finally an element that very few seem to spend time on is visualization. This can be done in bed some days before an event. This can help you go so much further than you expected as it can keep you positive throughout the event.

So next time you talk about your PB, remember you can PB in other areas other than time.

 

Tips for Runners at the Singapore Marathon

  • Use rehydrating salt (@ 60cts a pack in the pharmacy). Found every 2 hours is good enough for me.
  • SwelteringRunner

    Sung to the melody of Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain Again”

    If you are a 4 hours onwards marathon runner, the sun will suck out your energy.

    Carry a water bottle that you can refill at the hydration stations. You will be thankful you had one when 1.5km to the next checkpoint feels “forever” long after 30km in the hot blazing sun on the open road…and as you’re pouring water over your head to cool yourself down, you will overtake gaunt faces wishing they had brought their own bottle to do the same between checkpoints.

 

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Undoing Trashy Events and the Battle Against Running Tossers

The streets of London are not lined with gold but lined with 1/2 drunken plastic bottles (London Marathon 2011)

A lady had stopped along the road in my street to talk on her phone. As she did so, she rolled down her window and smoked a cigarette, doing that “typical smokers’ thing” to flick ash out her window and then flick her cigarette butt out the window.
A couple walked by, would have seen what she did and took no notice of the cigarette butt that was now burning on the floor releasing its toxic chemicals. I also happened to have witnessed the event, picked up the cigarette butt and knocked on her window. She wound down her window to allow me to return her “droppings”:
“Excuse me, I believe this is yours. Please don’t litter here. Learn to put it in the bin.”
She looked at me a little embarrassed, apologised and continued to smoke the cigarette butt I had just returned to her. I can only imagine she was waiting for me to continue walking by so that she could flick it back outside. But ahhh that glimmer of guilt the second time round…..
Participants in a running event are like the smoker, acting as if it is normal to drop stuff on the floor, accepting other runners dropping rubbish on the floor. New event participants copy the same thing, even though they didn’t do this in training!
Many marathons are a complete trash festival where we see the ugly sight of plastic bottles, cups, gel packets, bananas, oranges all dropped on the floor.
Most participants expect someone to clean it up for them! So what is the issue?

New York Marathon 2017. Picture from a CNBC article

Health and Safety and the Environment
It is surprising this behaviour has been allowed to happen for so long, when places like the UK have banned children playing games that could hurt themselves (like catch, tag, british bulldogs, conkers).
I’ve watched participants slip/skid on a bottle/cup/banana skin that has been dropped right in front of them.
Additionally there is “run away” trash. Runners’ trash that has been casually tossed into a bush or into a drain, and if it is raining or windy, the trash is washed into a water way that is close by. It is always unfortunate to see the Singapore river has had to participate as a large dumpster when outdoor events like the Singapore marathon has occurred.
…And the Rubbish Has to Go Somewhere
Like in many places, in Singapore, the marathon trash is a mixture of organic and inorganic stuff and will simply go to landfill.

And Now The Change – Battle Hat On!

The Ironman organisation have recently taken over running the Standard Charted Singapore Marathon, and have agreed a change needs to happen with regards to handling trash. They have provided us an opportunity, to see if we (grassroot communities) can encourage responsible runners in the Singapore Marathon. This is an event that will have about 60,000 runners participating in the 10km, 21km and 42km events.
NoMoreTrashyEvents

Singapore Marathon in a previous year

Education

We will subtly and proactively encourage and educate runners to put their trash in a bin to reduce the run away trash that is occurring with:
a) Trash Evangelist amongst the runners in all the events. They will be directing runners to put their trash in the bin and they will be taking photographs of those that do and those that simply drop it on the floor.
There will also be participants wearing a Bin It logo on their running tops to remind runners to bin their trash and additionally will be bringing their own bottle to show you can “have your bottle and run a good time”.
BinIt
If you want to see a clean mass event, please print or draw the Bin It logo, put in a clear bag (like the one your event t-shirt came in) and pin to the back of your shirt.
The marathon organisers have also stated they will be putting out Bin It signs to remind participants.
b) Trash Directors who will be directing runners and spectators at the finish point to separate trash in specific receptacles that the organisers will provide.
Note: There will be MND (Ministry of National Development) volunteers who will also be encouraging runners to “Bin It”

Landfill Reduction

By separating the trash we will be able to repurpose some of that trash. This means some of the plastic bottles can be recycled as they will be separated and the banana skins will be collected and redistributed to community gardens for compost.
So in addition to the end point trash directors we have volunteers who will be Banana Marshals. These volunteers will be at the banana check points along the ECP and separate the banana skins from the bottles from the cups. Perhaps they might play games with the runners to see if they can run and target stuff into the banana bins!

Checking For Run Away Trash

At the same time we will assume there will still be “running tossers” who have not seen the Bin It signs, tossing their trash in any direction. After the organisers’ clean up crew have been through (Veolia), we will be doing a community clean up along a 10km section of the marathon route to see if the “same old run-away runners’ trash” will be there. They will be checking the bushes, sand, and drains especially for the bothersome gel tabs.
This means the organisers can develop an action plan in future years to ensure we “Leave No Trace”
VolSpots
If after reading this, you want to get involved in this inaugural opportunity to change a large mass event, then have a look at this volunteer form and get involved. Click here for the link to the form . If you’re a runner, then please wear the Bin It logo. This event is in Singapore.
We will close the volunteer form on the 16th November 2017.
Am also pleased to announce we have a partnership with Better Trails. This is a company dedicated to keeping the trails in Singapore in their natural state and organise “Clean Ups” of the natural areas around Singapore.
BetterTrails
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Do Serious Runners Care About the Environment?

Of course many do, but if it gets in the way of getting a PB (Personal Best) or PR (Personal Record), then screw the environment. I asked some “serious” runners these questions.

Me: Do you get paid for a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: Is it life or death to get a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: So is a PB for your own personal happiness?

Typical Implied Response: Yes

Me: What about your trash impact?

Typical Response: The organisers clean it up!

Perhaps Brexit and Trump happened to show us how societies can slide backwards so that we would have to relearn the lessons of older generations…..(yes a long politically discussion for a long run).

Before the common use of plastics a disappearing generation remembers having to BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable). Then disposable plastic came forth. As our populations expanded, we were suckered into a disposable plastic addiction. Quiet observations have been made that our disposable plastic habit is wrecking environments; wildlife feed on our toxic rubbish, and plastic that fills landfills leach chemicals into our soil and water….and this plastic takes 100s of years to decompose.

We are totally oblivious that our convenient lifestyle does not harmoniously fit with our environment. Too many with the excuse of “I don’t have time” are really saying “I am too lazy to care. Screw the environment”. Too many companies continue on the same reckless path of developing products that are single-use and can also be pointless.

Of course there is the “money” element. Every organisation wants to minimise costs and maximise profits. It’s the law of economics. Screw the environment because profit is king. Seems the same with running/triathlons/cycling events….”Screw the environment because my PB is more important”

Many events have allowed me to do mini campaigns at their expos to encourage runners to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) on the run and some events have made some consideration towards at the very least purchasing compostable cups for their events. Some ultra events have gone further by purchasing their own reusable cups for the events or declaring zero cups and forcing participants to be responsible for at least their own cups.

But it is hard being a crazy, mad tyre-pulling lady, trying to persuade runners and event organisations to be the change & to think more holistically when they run their events.

Collaborations

Finally have understood a lone wolf can only go so far. Multi-national corporations see the benefits of having cultural diversity integrated within their own structures to strengthen their power of influence. We gain more support, enlightenment and ideas when we collaborate and form partnerships with others.

So to be more effective, this lone wolf has found buddies to help with her hunt to evolve organisations & runners to be more considerate towards other runners and the environment we all share….. and am excited to announce Ironman, Asia has allowed us to start with the Singapore Marathon. In this event, there has been far too much “run away” trash that has landed in the Singapore River and East Coast drains and sea due to poor handling of trash by runners. The cleaners are unable to pick up trash that is casually tossed in the grass, into bushes, into drains….despite there being several bins along the route. Obviously lots of very “blur sotong” runners (Singaporean saying for being ignorant).

Raise your game event runners because it’s time you learned to Bin It. People don’t like Sucky Tossers and we will be watching you!

SuckyRunnerPoster

Tabs from Gels are evil bits of trash that become run away trash

 

 

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#68 or #69 2XU SG Ultra Marathon: Trash Runners

Tring and Runners trash

Event Type: Had entered the 50 km solo event (there were 100km, 21km and 10km events at the same time)
Timing: 50Km solo began at 5pm in the afternoon
Route: Gardens By the Bay, Marina Barrage to the East Coast Park along the Park. Turn around point is just before Aviation Park Road.
Weather: Started at 27 degs C, cooling down to 25 degs C in the evening. Torrential rain fall at the start.
During: Water + energy drink; bananas; one checkpoint used twice with bread, biscuits, sweets, peanut bars
At the End: Medal, t-shirt, bananas, energy drink, water for the 50km runners
Pre-Race Pack: T-shirt, reusable bag, timing chip
Website: https://www.sgultramarathon.com

Overview

The inaugural 2XU-Sg Ultra event was a good event: there was a baggage holding area / plenty of toilets at the start / signage was well placed / u-turn points were well manned & timings checked throughout / there was a feeding station that was used twice (out and back) & plenty of water / isotonic drinks at the aid stations.  Roads were closed for the Marina Barrage & the rest of the route was on the PCNs.  Below are some iconic scenes you can expect to see in this event that I found on the web.

GardensByThe Bay

Night time view

Singapore is generally very well lit

East Coast Park

The Disconnected Runner

Our world is one we share with all species and we as “outdoor” people should want to respect and integrate with our natural environment. I love the nature runs because the surrounding plants emit peace & kindness to the eyes. Concrete buildings on the other hand emit cold heat & a feeling of disconnect and disharmony.

Ultra runners all round the world generally will boast they are respectful of the environment and to other users of the trail. However having now run in a number of ultra & marathon events, the only runners who truly respect their environment are the ones who are self-sufficient and get it! “It” being we have a duty to our natural world to integrate with it.

In my first marathon (Singapore 2006), I was shocked at runners (local and foreign) deliberately throwing their cups, bottles, trash on the floor, sometimes in front of runners. Their selfish actions had little consequence for them, and their focus was on achieving a PB (Personal Best) regardless of those around them. Having continued to enter other marathons and ultras – New York, London, Rome, Race to the Stones, Pilgrams, etc – all have the same, shameless tossing of trash on the floor, trash that sometimes cause those behind to slip on, or are washed away into the waterways, or eaten by an animal. Even after a “litter sweep” there will be a percentage of litter that escapes a clean up. Have seen this repeatedly, more recently in the Windsor Half Marathon. The gel tabs are big offenders especially when thrown into the grass or bush.

I grew up in Singapore, learning that littering is anti-social behavior and unacceptable, yet why do we accept runners & cyclist throwing their “crap” on the floor as if it is the normal thing to do?

SuckyRunnerPoster

There is a nagging feeling that has grown in me with event after event. I know there will be readers of this post who have felt it in their consciousness and have turned a blind eye to the anti-social behavior of “tossers” (UK derogatory expression for an obnoxious person)….or even a sucky tosser (one who sucks gels and is obnoxious). I’ll use the terms here to refer to runners who deliberately toss their trash on the floor.

Convenience?

Just like banning CFCs in the 1990s because we had a chance to saving our atmospheric ozone, we are at a point where we can stop the plastic rot in our environment, in our waterways. I can no longer turn a “blind eye” to our superficial convenient lifestyle and call this progression. It is backward as it denies our need for nature. We the amount of trash many of us generate: stop & think how this affects the local landfills, the global waterways. Reconnect with your natural world.

Trash Man

Rob Greenfield wore the trash he generated in a month.

2XU SG Ultra

Time to see if ultra runners were really better than shorter distance runners.

My buddy Marinna joined me in this event to be a back runner litter picker.

Marinna Bin It

Marinna Encouraging Runners to Bin their Trash

Of course accidents happen and we were interested how much “accidental” trash would happen. Prior to the event an appeal was made to the participants to keep the trail clean and to BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable cup or bottle).

As the event started, the heavens poured out its heart onto the participants. Despite the torrential rain fall, we were in high spirits believing ultra runners are respectful to their environment and we did not expect to pick up much rubbish. We were one of the last to cross the start line and ran in the puddles like excited kids enjoying the warm tropical rainfall. It was glorious and cool for hot humid Singapore where temperatures can hit the 30s (degs celcius) and humidity can cause you to melt in minutes.

The Runners Trash Drops

50km Route of Profiled trash

Profile of runner’s trash and two sucky desperate runners’ gel addiction

At 2-3km,  Marinna and I parted company as I needed to take advantage of the wetness to move Tring quickly on. I soon caught up with Samantha at the 5km aid station, which was the start of the East Coast park (ECP). We would run a lot of the first ½ of the route together.  The ECP is generously lined with bins placed about 10-20 metres  apart for approximately 12km of the route.

10km in, a runner had clearly thrown a cup from an aid station into the grass, 5 metres before a bin. Soon after tops of gel packets appeared on the ground. We gave the runners an excuse & blamed gel manufacturers for having made it too easy for tabs to be torn off completely and dropped as a sweaty tired runner “sucked” in their chemical loaded short-lived carb.

Why Gels?

Am amazed that long distance runners are conned into sucking the stuff every 30 minutes (as is stated on the package).  I have tried gels and found they took me on a “high low high low” journey that I did not appreciate and found better ways to stabilize myself with breakfast bars and protein. My ammunition was two protein bars & a sandwich to see me through this event plus a top up of two banana from the aid stations.

Additionally I have seen  people “bonking” in ultras despite taking the gels at the prescribed time. Later I would read that is because of the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin to cope with the sugar overload provided by gels. I wonder how many regular users of gels will suffer from diabetes & bad teeth?

Back to the Event

18:30-19:00 darkness was settling in, however this is Singapore, and all of the route except one small 500m part of the route was well lit, enough to see the gel tabs on the ground. As I wandered left and right on the path picking up gel tabs, Martin, a friend who came to support a short distance, ran with me amused. I would later find out Marinna also picked up a load of gel tabs & gels along the path after me from returning runners.

Gel manufacturers really need to come up with a different design to reduce this nuisance plastic litter that can be easily missed and washed into our waterways.

Trash Collected By Marinna

Marinna’s trash pick up

As the big golden orb (the moon) rose from the sea, I reached for my phone to take a picture, and had a quick panic. I had dropped my phone about 10km from my current position. I quickly rationalised there was no point in panicking and hoped that the phone would be fine.

Thus had to forgive the couple of gel packets found on the Tanah Merah Road on the way to the u-turn point as accidental droppings. Past the 24.5km aid station, it became more obvious that the runners’ actions were deliberate, as tossers had chucked cups about a couple of hundred metres from the aid station and some bottles were placed by a police sign! Amongst 248 runners who were completing the 50 km and the 100km duo, there was a small group of a***holes.

Returning back on the Tanah Merah Road, had left Samantha and was joined by Siva back to the feeding station at 33.9km. Three gel packets at regular intervals had been tossed into the grass. As we overtook a pair of 50km runners, I complained to them about the High 5 and GU tossers and the body of water that was close by. They coined the term “sucky runners”.

Siva righted the world with me and we berated about selfish sucky runners until 33.9km.

After the feed station at 33.9km more participants obviously were no longer caring about their actions as sweetie wrappers, bottles, cups  were picked up along the route as if this were a normal road marathon. Picked up six bottles in total and slung them into the bin.  The small trash bag I was carrying was already full from picking up 13 cups previously.

As I headed back to the ECP, my phone appeared on the wet floor. It was still wrapped in a plastic glove that I had found and used to protect it from the rain. The screen was a little damaged but it was still working. Ironically guess because it was wrapped in a plastic glove, everyone avoided it.

The callous sucky High 5 tosser irked me as he chucked his gel packets close to drains, drains that channel run off water into the sea.

RunnersTrashCollectBy TL

TL’s trash pick up

My first “period” day is normally a day to feel exhausted, however the litter focus fueled my mind with thoughts that runners need to grow up. My legs were still firing with energy to move Tring along, overtaking runner after runner and still picking up trash dropped by a***holes.

Along the last 4 km after the last aid station, six cups had been thrown into the tree lined area.  Again when did it become a social norm for runners to chuck stuff on the floor because they can’t be bothered or because it allows them to get a PB? Friggin’ tossers was my last thought.

Tossers & Sucky Runners, in future events, your trash will stay there as your ugly legacy & you can delight at the fact that your trash might even become micro-plastic or animal food. Please grow up and become #ResponsibleRunners

AnimalsEatingPlastic.JPG

When you next go out for a run/walk challenge yourself to pick up at least 5 pieces of trash (#5ThingsClear) to make your environment a better place.

It should be noted this is an issue that happens in events around the world in cycling or running events. Society may think this is normal. Nature does not!

Final challenge to you all:

PlasticChallenge

Resource: Plastic Ocean or Drowning in Plastic

Look forward to hearing about you being fantastic using less plastic

Nets Card

I picked up someone’s NETS card along the Tanah Merah Road. It must belong to a 50km or 100km runner. It has about $18 left on it. Contact me and I will post it to you. Also happy to post back gel packets dropped by the sucky tossers.

Finally, James (my biggest fan) has made me aware that I still have to complete the Race To The Kings write up…..it will be completed before the end of this month….Hence this ultra might be considered marathon #68 if I fail the RTTK.

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Tring Returns From Retirement

TrangTring

Dec 2008: Trang (back) & Tring (front)

November 2008, Tring was found wandering a Singaporean rain forests. She was dirty, frightened and lost.

We cleaned her up and tried to get her to participate with Trang in the Singapore Marathon in 2008. After being in the jungle, Tring found the crowds of people overwhelming. Her reluctance to move after 6 miles, meant we had to take her off the reigns and continue on with Trang. We completed the event whilst Tring was looked after by a friend. Tring’s confidence was really low, so we found a role for her as trainer and coach to other runners. She loved it.

Tring Marathon Dec 2010

Tring in her former glory days

We slowly introduced her to larger groups of people and in December 2010, she completed her first marathon – the Singapore Marathon. We also gave her a bunch of animals to look after during the event in case her people phobia returned. Tring was hooked.

OldTring

She went on to complete the Singapore Marathon in 2012, three Parkruns, Twilight Ultra (50K) – 2015 & the Green Ultra (50K) – 2016.  With the distance she had put in, her pretty treads were looking worn on one side, and holes developed catching on roots and stones on trail paths. It was time to retire her.

Many tyres like her have gone onto successful careers upon retirement (…as garden ornaments or pledge tyres), but Tring was not ready to go. She requested a new lease of life as a a “Tyre Lady” tyre.

Tring’s Transformation

We have rebuilt her! Her transformation from land lover to sea lover is now complete. So here is the lovely Tring and the art work she displays is:

“Plastic fish feeding on polystyrene”

Tring is requesting that all people of the world help stem the flow of plastic in our waters and ocean which is affect our aquatic life, plus our fundamentals – food, water and air supplies.

It requires a little effort by refusing disposable/single use plastic & using a BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) approach. That is bring your own reusable cup, plate, cutlery, bag, etc to anywhere that provides plastic. It’s part of stuff in my handbag 😀

Please commit to this action because #PlasticSoup #PlasticOceans can be healed. Boyan Slat is helping one part of the solution with an ocean clean up:

We are another part of the solution.

Below are images from the web on plastic pollution that we can all play a part in stopping and preventing in the future.

FRomWeb.JPG

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Introducing Big Bluey

Big Bluey has been around since end of last year. Big Bluey is a dedicated 5K racing tyre, promoting BYOR to reduce the amount of disposable plastic trash, supporting Sky Ocean Rescue mission and #5ThingsClear

This is Big Bluey’s story:

For anyone wanting to pull Big Bluey you will need to pledge to reduce your usage of disposable/single-use plastic with a BYOR attitude.

You can also donate to EarthWatch, a charity that Tyre Lady supports: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TyreLady