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Remember Tomorrow – 2015 Retrospect

by Azlan

2015 has been a shitty year. Physically, I’ve been hampered by a injury that refuses to go away. And mentally, I’ve just been down in the dumps. It wasn’t until I started compiling the events for this write up that I realized there I’ve actually done a lot this year, but somehow these moments slipped my mind, thanks to one individual.

But where do I begin?

A forgotten start

When I first wrote this post, I kept thinking that my year started in April. I left my job around the second half of 2014 and I only resumed working again in April this year. I had almost forgotten that I took part in the first Runners Convention in February and got to meet some inspirational trail runners, as well as friends from abroad. More of that here.

Runners Convention 2015

A lesson in despair

In 2014, I made the decision to run my first 100 km race, after having done okay in the Translantau 50. I balloted for the 2015 Hong Kong 100, but was unsuccessful. Reluctantly, I signed up for the Translantau 100. The elevation profile alone scared the crap out of me.

I trained the best I could till March, but in hindsight wasn’t enough (or maybe I’m not good enough). I suffered miserably for the race with 2 sleepless nights, hallucinations, tired legs, over-packed gear, unused nutrition, among other things. I finished the race as the second last male runner just 30 mins before the cut-off time. That race has left an indelible mark in me every time I think about doing another event.

With a fellow Singaporean runner, Clarabelle who ran/hike/crawled together with me till the end!

With a fellow Singaporean runner, Clarabelle, who ran/hike/crawled together with me till the end!

Hanging on by a thread

During a regular training run at Kent Ridge Park a couple of weeks after Translantau, I experienced a strain on my left leg while running up some slopes. I figured it would go away with a bit of rest and recovery, but it somehow didn’t till now. If you had met me during The Great Relay earlier in the year, you would have seen me running with a kinesio tape on my leg, which indicated that I was running in spite of the discomfort.

As of now the strain has felt slightly better. Well, a bit more with the help of a couple of sports massage sessions, strength training, foam rolling and icing. But it hasn’t gone away. Not really sure what to do…

Photo by Second Wind Magazine

Photo by Second Wind Magazine

Second chances

In 2014 I missed out the chance to meet Anna Frost on an invitation from Salomon/World of Sports. Fast forward a year later in September, I got word that she would be in Singapore for just a few hours in transit, so I took an urgent leave to meet her. It was wonderful to have been able to chat with a respected and inspirational figure in the sport (of ultra running).

Fearless Frosty

The slog

Later in the year I signed up and ran the 50 km category of The North Face 100 Singapore. The last time I took part in the race was in the 25km category way back in 2012. The race was a slog; probably the most painful race I’ve ever done (which explains why I never wrote a race review). I ran well for 20 km before agonizing cramps set in, with the heat of the day not helping at all. But I found brief respite when a friend stationed as a medic there helped to sort out my leg the best he could, before setting me on my way. I felt the burn from that race for a couple of days.

The North Face 100 Singapore 2015

Photo by Run Shoot Repeat

But I got to meet and interview a few more elite athletes, so I guess it turned out alright.

Left to right: Vlad Ixel, Wyan Chow, myself, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Left to right: Vlad Ixel, Wyan Chow, myself, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki


In early November, I relapsed back into depression. I was frustrated at myself over someone and snappeddeactivating Facebook in the process. It had been a very long time since I’ve been in such a poor state of mind. Peers and friends who noticed my disappearance texted me their concerns, but for the most part, I think no one noticed. But by the end of 2 weeks, I lost my appetite to be totally disconnected. And so I pulled myself together, put on a straight face and get along with the reality of things. However, one can’t move along from a depressive episode without being affected by it in some way or another. This feeling would linger on for months to come.

The last race

I successfully balloted for the 2016 Hong Kong 100 (HK100) and the feeling was akin to winning the lottery. It was great to know that Andy and Ian was successful in the ballot and will be with me on this trip. Beyond Hong Kong 100, I have no other running plans for the rest year, aside of taking part in the Terry Fox Run.

I made the controversial announcement that I will leave running. Well it’s partly true; I will leave running maybe for a month or two to sort my leg out and work on other things. It will be difficult to get running out of my system, as I’ve been doing it for almost half a decade now. But time away from the pavement and trails might do me some good. I have something planned tho I can’t say if it will happen at this point of time.

Photo from the UTWT Website.

Photo from the UTWT Website.

Being thankful

2015 wasn’t a great year for me. Yes I ran my first 100 km race and what not, but injuries and being depressed took the joy out everything. I don’t think I’ll have much fond memories of 2015. But there’s still plenty to be thankful for; learning about despair during an ultra-marathon, talking to more elite runners, figuring out whether I was important to people, wondering why I’m still injured, why I’m such an average runner, among other things.

Before I end this post, I’d like to give a special mention and shout out to the following groups of people:

  • Nuke Optics and Simple Hydration for allowing me to be their brand ambassador and supporting me in my endeavors.
  • The very, very small group of people whom I communicate with regularly (you know who you are).
  • The people whom I text but usually get a delayed or non-existent reply, umm, thanks. Guess there’s a reason for everything. A reply would be great though.
  • And of course, fellow peers and acquaintances of the trail and ultra running world. Nothing inspires me more than watching you people do great things that I wish I could do.

At the end of the day, you have to remember tomorrow. Because you never know what it’ll bring.

With that, see you next year. Hopefully.

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