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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Passion North Run Singapore - 18 October 2014 - 8K

For my October run, I had actually signed up much, much earlier in the year for the 21km race at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in British Columbia, Canada.  I figured I would spend my birthday weekend in that beautiful province, tackling the half-marathon and enjoying the gorgeous fall colours along the non-repeating route.  However, as some best-laid plans go, this one didn't quite happen the way it should, and I had to fill the spot with another run that best matched my work and travel schedules.

Which is how I stumbled upon the Passion North Run that was held in the northern Singaporean suburb of Sembawang one cloudy, white-sky day.


Now this race - organized by Nee Soon GRC Community Sports Clubs - and set in the decidedly suburban neighbourhood of Sembawang which is best known for its ports and military base, represents two firsts for me: 1) that it's held on a Saturday and 2) we were to run in the afternoon.  All my other races have been on Sundays, and most of them have (unfortunately, for me) started way before the sun hit the snooze button.  Holding it on a Saturday didn't affect me in the least but I did wonder about how I'd fare running 8km at 5 p.m. in sunny, muggy, tropical, hot Singapore. But thanks for the overabundance of cumulus clouds that day (yes, I did take an elective course in Weather back in my university days - no judging please,) it turned out to be quite a pleasant exercise - pun fully intended.  An added bonus was that the organizers had mapped out a non-repeating course which saw the Finish line at the breezy Sembawang Park on the water's edge.



So this was the scene prior to the race.  That's my two hardcore supporters in the above photo (hint: they're the only ones not wearing yellow.) 


And here I am (in black) across the street, waiting to start the race.  Oh, and another plus was that we got to run on actual roads for most of the 8km, and not on sidewalks or dirt paths.

Huffing along Sungei Sembawang

For about the second to the sixth kilometer marks, we veered off the main road and ran down forested country paths. Along the way were various houses of worship, a seaside bar and a barrel of monkeys.  Not seen were the kampungs that must have dotted this area a couple of decades ago, which is a real pity.


Along Admiralty Road East and Canada Road

After we literally came out of the woods, we had the good fortune of running through the streets of some of the city-state's best colonial homes.  Built in the early 20th century and reflecting Sembawang's history as a British naval base, many of these houses are on roads are named after various Royal Navy dockyards, warships, admirals,countries and cities such as Canada, Wellington, Canberra, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Bermuda and Kenya.


In land scarce Singapore where most of the residents are piled on top of each other in ubiquitous public housing blocks, I got to indulge in some turn-of-the-century real-estate porn along the route.  This one (photo above) of the single story colonial is my favourite among the bunch.  I mean, look at the size of that garden! 

Another colonial beauty along King's Avenue


Finally I got to Sembawang Park (one of a few in Singapore with a natural beach) to see this amazing playground structure just about 100 meters from the finish line.


And this is what we saw during that last 100-meter slog....a peek at the Johor coastline across the slim body of water separating Malaysia and Singapore.

Clockwise from top left: Another run in the bag; my dad/cheerleader and me; the adorable medal, sweating along Admiralty Road East; passing Sembawang Park at around the 6K mark.

Those last few steps leading up to the finish line were tough as the latter was at the top of a slope, but hey, I completed another run and that's what matters (my time was so not my personal best, but oh well.)  To recap: this was a well-organized race, loved the route and the shoe-medal, and it's great that it's held in one of the towns I don't frequent that often.  Highly recommended as a fun family event if you find yourself in the Lion City this time next year.


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The Golden Age of Airport Restaurants - From NYTimes.com

In recent years, as airlines around the world have cut back on in-flight food, a wave of business-savvy chefs have given rise to the golden age of airport dining. Want Champagne and caviar? Take a seat at the Petrossian bar at LAX. Have a taste for perfectly marinated goose meat? Check out Hung’s Delicacies at Hong Kong International. Even local joints — Ivar’s fish bar in Seattle, the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Tex. — have gotten into the act, opening airport outposts that make it feel as if you’ve visited even when you’re just passing through. (Chefs at Phoenix Sky Harbor International think so highly of their food they’re pushing to host a James Beard Foundation dinner at the airport next year.) Indeed, thanks to a doubling of air traffic in the past 15 years — not to mention a general refinement of taste on the part of travelers — eating at the airport no longer means just preflipped burgers and cafeteria seating. Here, some stats on food’s rapidly ascending staging ground.

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