The reservoir comes in and out of view during a loop of MacRitchie.
Runners in Singapore are spoilt for choice. With parks and stadiums dotted liberally throughout the island it’s often a case of just nipping outside, and a great place to run will be literally round the corner. But sometimes it’s best to leave your local haunts behind.
Here’s our pick of what we consider to be the five best places to lace up your trainers.
|You might get lucky and catch a show on the Symphony Stage during a run through the Botanic Gardens | Photo: Alan Grant|
Distance: 1km to 4.6km | Suitable for: Everyone
For this writer, the number one spot to run is the Botanic Gardens. Sticking to the outer paths within the gardens provides a loop of 4.6km, which some might say is too short. Well run it twice, thrice or even four times round to get your required distance or try alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise loops to relieve any perceived boredom.
The full loop is fairly undulating but even if you don’t fancy the 51m of elevation gain, you can always stick to flatter loops of Swan Lake or the Eco Lake or just explore the myriad of paths that crisscross the gardens. The gardens are suitable for all runners, fast or slow, sprinters or endurance junkies. Use the short, sharp hills for speed intervals or if you’re just out for a jog, what better place to do it than surrounded by the best of Singapore’s flora, away from the noise and pollution of the traffic.
Distance: 10.6km | Suitable for: Experienced runners
The main trail around the reservoir is 10.6km long but be warned, it’s not for everybody. It takes a certain amount of stamina and even skill, as the ground is rarely flat. Not only are there several steep pitches, it’s gnarly underfoot and full of potential pitfalls. Good running shoes, maybe even of the specialised trail variety, are essential for running in MacRitchie. Also watch the weather forecast before venturing in, as the hills make it susceptible to flooding. And please leave your iPod at home and tune into nature instead; you’re bound to come across the odd monkey and you might even be ‘lucky’ enough to spot a wild boar or even a snake or two!
|The Green Corridor takes you over a series of old railway bridges, including this one crossing Bukit Timah Rd. | Photo: Alan Grant|
Distance: 13km | Suitable for: Everyone
This is a relatively new and hidden gem. When the tracks were ripped up from the old KTM route, what was left was a pristine trail running right through the heart of the island. Unlike MacRitchie, the Green Corridor is suitable for all running abilities because it’s wide and flat as a pancake. The southern entry point is via Silat Road, and the trail runs parallel to the AYE for the first 2km. While you can hear the speeding traffic you can’t actually see any of the noisy polluters. Soon the din is gone, and the track goes under various roads and flyovers, and crosses one or two old rail bridges as it skirts the edges of Bukit Merah, Queensway, Tanglin Halt, Holland Road and into Bukit Timah. It can be accessed from all these areas if you don’t want to run the whole length. Alas it comes to an end at Hillview Road, where for some reason the old rail bridge has been removed. Still, that’s 13km of uninterrupted running.
Distance: 1km to 15km | Suitable for: Everyone
The waterfront run along Kallang and Geylang rivers has long been a popular run with the CDB crowd, either as a route to/from work for East Coasters or for a lunch-time run. Now with the addition of Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay, a wider Marina Bay loop is possible. The full 15km route starts at the Esplanade (or anywhere else on the loop) and runs clockwise past the Flyer and F1 Pit Building, under Nicoll Highway, over Rochor and Geylang rivers, then back under Nicoll Highway. Alas because of National Stadium construction madness the route temporarily needs to leave the waterfront with a detour down Mountbatten Road and into Stadium Boulevard, before crossing Geylang River again into Tanjong Rhu. Then it’s south along Gardens to the Barrage. The view of the city skyline from the Barrage is breath-taking at any time of the day and provides a boost for the final run back into the city through the main part of the Gardens. The last few clicks of the loop involve running past the Marina Bay Sands then back around to the Esplanade. Of course you don’t have to do the full loop. A shorter recommendation is the Barrage through the Gardens and back.
East Coast Park
|East Coast Park | Photo: InSing|
Distance: 1 to 21km | Suitable for: Everyone
We were tempted to omit East Coast Park because it’s so clichéd but the reality is it’s the perfect place for the whole family to run. Weekend Warrior Dad can tackle the full 22km out-and-back course, the kids can jog around the water-ski lagoon and even grandpa can safely shuffle for a kilometre or two if he’s so inclined. The entire 11km from Fort Road to Changi Coast Walk is flat, a cooling sea breeze is virtually guaranteed and there’s no need to carry a water bottle thanks to the myriad of shops, kiosks and water fountains. The main drawback of the East Coast Park is of course that it can get kind of busy. Beware of cyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladers and ordinary beachgoers wandering aimlessly into your path. There are actually well-marked lanes indicating separate passages for those on wheels and without but hardly anybody seems to take notice of these. It’s quieter at the eastern and western extremes of the park so stick to the edges if you want a less fraught run.
Alan Grant is a freelance editor/writer based in Singapore and his biggest passions in life are eating and cycling. His longest ride to date was this June's Trans Malaysia Express where he and 14 friends covered 800km from the Thai-Malaysia border to Singapore in just 43 hours. He has placed his journalistic hat down at such legendary Singaporean spots such as The Straits Times and I-S Magazine as well as TimeOut Singapore, Discovery Channel Magazine and Spin Magazine.