Another run around the reservoir

I almost didn’t make it to the race today. I’d called for a taxi with plenty of time to spare, but when I got in the driver denied all knowledge of our destination. “Bedok” I said. “Where?” “Bedok” I said again. “You show me?”

I’m not driving a taxi, and Bedok is well known around Singapore for its reservoir and the occasional bodies that are fished out of it. How was I going to show him where Bedok was?

I tried spelling it out. “Oh, Bedook” he exclaimed, as though it were obvious that the word rhymed with look and not lock. And off we went, me seething in the back seat.

I’ve run this relay race for three years now. The first year, they mucked up the course and it was about half a kilometre short. The second year was obviously tougher, and then this year I did it with lungs full of phlegm and a head devoid of willpower, instead full of jet lag and befuddlement.

This year I was the last runner in my team. As I lined up next to Anna, the last runner in the women’s B team, the race official told me I’d better run extra fast so I didn’t get beaten by a woman. Which was helpful advice. I mean, if I was racing a bloke, it wouldn’t matter if I got beaten or not, because that’s not anything to get competitive about, but the mere thought of two sets of X chromosomes crossing the finishing line before me would be enough to provoke rage and sheer determination to run faster, surpassing all other factors.

Or something.

The 3rd member of the women’s B team arrived about half a minute before my third man came in, so I’d have to be running at least thirty seconds faster than Anna to keep up. Anna’s faster than me unless she’s worn out from a big race, and I’m not sick, which was unlike today, where Anna is in training for a marathon in two weeks time, and I’m hacking up green stuff into a bush near the start line. So off I went, without much hope in my heart.

I caught up a bit. Anna was nowhere to be seen to begin with, although that could have been because of the crowds of rollerblades and cyclists slowly moving around Bedok Reservoir. Very slowly. If I’m running past you and you’re riding a bike, especially if that is a $3,000 bike, you need to put your back into it.

Or stay off the path and let the runners through; the BedoK Reservoir relay is organised by people who really get eggy if somebody doesn’t do the correct exchange in the handover zone, but won’t say boo to a goose or a man with two kids on his bike, weaving through the middle of the race. Priorities, anyone?

Sooner or later I sighted Anna, and as we got close to the turnaround point at the halfway mark, I began counting how long it took for me to reach where she was. About fifteen seconds. Catching her would still, theoretically, be possible over the remaining 1.75 km.

Or, when I counted the split later and it was getting bigger, I’d be too demoralised to continue.

When I counted the split later, it was getting bigger.

I carried on, going as hard as I could, but I was over a minute slower than the same race last year. I suppose last year I had had the motivation of La Serpiente wailing from the sidelines, whereas I was very much alone this time around. It’s likely being the last man back.

Still, never mind. If 2015 me had raced Anna, he would have won comfortably. Although we don’t know how quick 2015 Anna was going.

Overall, Singapore Shufflers killed it: first and second in both the men’s and women’s events. We only won a single thing in the raffle though, an electric steamboat cooker. No 3-in-1 vacuum cleaners for us, so we went home, gnashing our teeth in rage. There’s always next year.

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