I recently went on my 2nd Parkrun, this time to Singapore's central Bishan Park. Yes, I will still claim that I do not enjoying morning running. And yes, I have to admit, that I quite enjoyed the experience!
If you are unfamiliar with the term, a Parkrun is a community based 5km ( 3 mile) fun run, held every Saturday morning with flag off at 7.30am. Originating in the UK, there are now hundreds of Parkruns around the world.
Singapore has 3 Parkruns: West Coast, Bishan (central) and East Coast. I had previously run my first Parkrun in the West Coast. Once again called on the support of an old friend and regular park runner, to introduce me to his local parkrun, this time in Bishan.
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Parkruns start at 7.30am and I generally hate morning running. So I thought that this time, with a little extra preparation, I could try to make the experience more enjoyable. With a slightly longer drive, 20 minutes not 10 minutes (in tiny Singapore any drive over 20 minutes could be classed as 'far') I duly set my alarm earlier, plus included some time to get to our local kopitiam (coffee shop) to pick up a my daily caffeine fix, a kopi gai siew dai. Arriving at the park in good time I could then do a proper warm up before the run commenced.
My first time in Bishan Park - so thank you Parkrun. Bishan Park, at 7.0am, is an almost model like experience of what a pleasant park, bustling with morning park goers should be. Walkers, walkers with strollers and babies, walkers with strollers and pet dogs, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, groups of tai chi practitioners. All enjoying an ultra groomed and very attractive park, surrounded by neighbouring high rises.
A very different experience from the narrower confines of West Coast Park, between the road, the dockside and its views of the bustling shipping lane.
Finding the meeting point was easy enough, a short walk from the car park. Before the run there was time to go for a short warm-up jog, have a chat with fellow runners. Parkruns are very social occasions, the sense of community is strong. I bumped into an ex-colleague and we caught up for a few minutes. Before any run is a first-timer introduction and safety briefing, new comers are properly welcomed to the group and the run itself. I estimate that about 20 of the 60 runners were newcomers, both from Singapore and overseas: tourists and business travellers.
Similar to my first experience, those wanting to run fast put themselves at the head of the pack, everyone else formed up to the rear. My running partner and I fancied running a little faster than previously, so we put ourselves in the middle of the pack and awaited the flag-off. No intention to race, although admittedly we were keen to get a better time than before.
And we were off. Twice round the park, the route marked at key points with hi-viz cones. Some participants jogging, some running hard. I have to admit, I stymied my run, at least the official timing. At the outset I had to make an unplanned restroom trip - in the sparklingly clean park facilities - that put me well behind the pack. Singapore parks generally have great restroom facilities.
When I returned to the path I almost immediately caught up with the group, but not the runners - the trail sweepers, those volunteers who slowly follow behind the official group to help along any stragglers.
1 lap down, then 2, and over. Timing, including restroom break, officially captured. A chats and a few photos with other runners and the organisers, then off to a local coffee shop for the traditional post-run breakfast.
Once again, I really enjoyed my Parkrun, especially to see Bishan park. With an early morning kopi inside me and a better warm up than for my first experience, the run itself was more enjoyable. As a solo runner, the social aspect is interesting, fun. Meeting other runners from different backgrounds and specially to see so many runners from out of town, who look for Parkruns when they travel.
I know that a Parkrun is meant to be a fun run first and foremost, but the opportunity to take advantage to run a timed event was hard to pass up, especially for my second Parkrun.
Ps. Thinking to take part in a Singapore Parkrun? Use the following links...
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