The North Face 100 (TNF100) made its first appearance in Singapore. It is a regional race series of four countries that started from Australia, followed by Philippines, and made it’s stop in Singapore and lastly, the grand finale will be in China.
Compared to TNF100 in other countries which requires the runner to run solo for the whole 100 km, The North Face 100 in Singapore is a race that takes a team of two person which are capped to 150 teams, going through 50 km off road trail run in the Central Catchment Area from MacRitchie Reservoir to Bukit Timah, Bukit Panjang and back to MacRitchie Reservoir.
Runners can individually run on their own, but the group having the fastest total timing will win the race, regardless which member came in first.
Traditionally, this race provide very minimal support. Therefore runners have to bring along their own hydration and fuel throughout the race. They are required to plan and ration their drinks and fuel consumption to ensure that it is sufficient for them to last throughout the race.
Due to the element of surprise, the route of the race wasn’t give out earlier. It was only given to the runners one week before the race. Therefore, runners will have limited time to recce the route.
From the info in Alexa, it shows that the website didn’t really pull in the crowd. The website has a potential to spread the meaning of true trail ultra running and provide runners with information on ultra trail topics. It is a unique race, although not in overseas, but of its own kind in Singapore.
There is no online registration. The registrations were done manually at the The North Face boutique. It is quite a hassled for those who do not have time or opportunity to go there. And having online registration will boost more participants for both local and overseas.
As a participant, the most important thing about event website is the information. The TNF100 website were stagnant with little or no information even after the race pack collection. It should be updated constantly on race infos such as the race route and the details of the race.
Race Pack Collection
It was held one week before the race at Velocity @ Novena Square. The location is centralised. Easy for runners to collect their race pack. The space is sufficient to gather 300 over participants. Since there were no infos about the chip timing, some of the participants were caught unaware about it and have to scramble around for ATM machines. Other than that, the collection was very smooth.
Inside the race pack, there was a pair of event shirt, race infos, notebook, isotonic drink, and some discount vouchers. Everything looks fine accept for the t-shirt, which is not The North Face brand. It is a printed 100% polyester event t-shirt with a printing company brand on its label. The quality is great but most of the participants wish it could be a real “Exclusive The North Face 100 Singapore Event T-shirt”.
There was a race-briefing conducted during the collection. Having it at shopping center, the participants have sufficient time to hang around and do some shopping before the race-briefing start. It was a very straight forward briefing which briefly described what can be found in the race-infos and end with question and answer session.
In the race-infos, it stated clearly that runners have to bring at least a 2 liter (minimum) hydration pack as well as a mobile phone and emergency contact sheet for either of the team member. There were no mentioned that participants will be disqualified if they didn’t bring the compulsory items.
There were lucky draws and The North Face product thrown out to the audience during the session. Very entertaining and well organised.
Race Starting Point
The location of the startin point is at MacRitchie Zig-zag bridge. It is where the annual school cross country have their starting point. The place were definitely cosy for 300 over people to hang around and do some pre-chatting before the race. The only problem about the location was the insufficient carpark space which were beyond the organiser’s control.
The runners need to collect the timing chip. The collection was very smooth. The starting point was wuite confusing. Runners are not sure which direction to face. Having a race gantry with “START” and “FINISH” signage may help.
This was one of the toughest route that was ever organised by any race organisers in Singapore. The minimal support and the unexpected humid weather adds on the toughness of the race. Click here to see the route, done by acidburn.
The route were very technical. Majority of the route ran through the undulating high and low terrain. This might be the the first race that requires runner to run up towards the Bukit Timah peak and ran through the the Chestnut mountain bike trail. The route were basically narrow, muddy, rocky, steep and slippery.
Startin at MacRitchie reservoir, runners have to run long Lornie Road which was pretty much of a warm-up. The fun starts when the runners ran along the Lornie trail back to the starting point and towards the Northern Trail Route. From there, runners will proceed to the Rifle Range Road, and than went off track again inside the Durian Loop Trail that lead to Bukit Timah Visitor Center. From there, runners had to run up the steep slope towards the peak of Bukit Timah hill.
From the peak, runners had to run along the Catchment Path towards the Belukar Track, running along the trail beside BKE (expressway) towards Chestnut Avenue and ran inside the Chestnut Trail. Chestnut Trail were very new to most of the runners. The trail are meant for mountain biking, where bikers were often spotted there during weekends.
Going though the rough track, the participants will reached their first water refill cum checkpoint below BKE at Bukit Panjang Exit. Than runners run northwards towards Jalan Kok Meng. Runners need to cross underneath the BKE towards the other side of the trail.
From Jalan Kok Meng, runners have to run downwards towards the same water refill cum checkpoint again via another route from the other side of the trail. Upon reaching the water refill cum checkpoint, runners to u-turn back and ran along the same route that passes by Jalan Kok Meng and back towards the same water refill cum checkpoint for the third time at Bukit Panjang Exit.
From the water refill cum checkpoint, runners will back track towards Chestnut Avenue through the Chestnut trail and Belukar Track and up the Rifle Range Road towards the finishing point at MacRitchie Reservoir. On the way back, the route was quite narrow and requires the runner to give way to the oncoming runners.
The route are not for the faint hearted. It is no longer about speed. It requires alot of strength and endurance. It is about balance and stability in the treacherous trail. The undulating terrain made the whole route even tougher. It’s like running up and down on a wave of short hills and slopes.
The chances of getting a sprained ankle is high. Not having proper plan and strategy for hydration and fuel in this unpredictable weather was definitely a risk not worth taking. The weather was extreme in this extreme race. The weather were merciless to the runners. It drizzles but the heat from the glaring sun was totally unbearable.
Having a cut-off time of 8 hours is definitely very optimistic for runners who are not used to this type of terrain or for those who have not completed any marathons before. And it’s neither for those who have not trained for quite sometime.
In terms of runner friendly, this will definitely score zero. But in terms of runners who seek for something different, adventurous adrenaline challenges and enjoy toturing himself, this will definitely scores high!
Marshall and Official
The route marshall and official were great. They did a perfect job on showing us the direction. There were a few officials on bikes which made the participants felt safe along the trail.
There was only one location where participants had a problem on which direction to turn at Durian Loop Trail. It was quite confusing. Participants may end up running back to the same point if not properly guided in the trail. Other than that, the route were marked very well.
The organiser did a very clever job, in putting only one water point out of the whole 50 km route. And the best thing about it, runners will stop at the same water point for three times.
The water point was great. The volunteers were very generous with the water. And they even had a supply of ice cube for participants to refill their hydration bag.
The finishing point which was also the starting point for the race. There were no crowds to cheer the participants after going through the gruelling experience except for their friend and family members. Finishers were greeted with a medal around their neck.
The best things of all, participants enjoyed a very great spread of food that were catered by the organiser. Kudos to the organiser who manged the reception. Participants really appreciate the food that were catered.
From the results, the overall winner, F1 Runners was the only team that did a total timing of below 10 hours. They won $3500 worth of products from The North Face, stuffs from other supporting sponsors, trophy and a fully sponsored trip to Beijing, China to represent The North Face 100 Singapore to compete in the Grand Finale of The North Face 100 series. This F1 team really live up to its name and maybe the only team that does not required any pit stop for such a race. Totally not human! SGRunners.COM wishes them all the best in the upcoming TNF100 in Beijing China.
Being Singapore, a hot and humid country, it can be a potential one of the toughest race in the world. It is definitely not for beginners and casual runners. If anyone who want to join this race, they must have to train for this.
The website did not really live up to its fullest potential. It will be great to have informations constantly being updated, especially for runners who are hunger to prepare for the race.
With miminal support given by the race organisier, it really does help them on minimising the hassles of managing the logisitics and manpower. The loop from Bukit Panjang to Jln Kok Meng to Zhenghua Park and back again really did the trick!
Overall, this is truly a great experience for the participants. Quite a number of runners did not made it to the finishing line within the cut-off timing. It’s not that they couldn’t finish the race. Everyone and anyone can complete an ultra if they have a chance to do it.
Do look forward for next year’s TNF100, if it is going to be an annual event. It might be double of everything, which results in double the toture and double the fun.