Running Trails in Singapore

With Cindy Poon

Where to go running in Singapore? Are there any trails at all in this urban jungle? We asked Cindy Poon, a passionate runner from Singapore who introduces us to the surprisingly many trail running options that you can find around the island.

Cindy running at the MSIG Action Asia Event in Singapore. (Photo by MSIG Action Asia)

1) Can you introduce yourself and let us know how long you have been trail running and where you are based?

My name is Cindy from Singapore. I was introduced to trail running by a friend in 2015 and it has changed my running journey ever since!

2) Are you a competitive runner joining races or do you just run for fun and pleasure?

I would say I am in between both options. I run races for enjoyment and therefore don’t over do it or push my pace too hard to ruin the fun, however if I am told that I am doing well and in the lead in the female category then my mind instantly switches to ‘competitive mode’ and I push hard. So, I would say I have a good balance of both aspects, but the most important thing for me is enjoyment because if you are always a competitive person, you are going to break down one day, therefore it’s vital to enjoy the journey and not stress!

Cindy at a trail race in Hong Kong (Photo by Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan)

3. Can you tell us about your (1-3) favorite trail runs in your country and what is interesting about each of them?

1) MacRitchie Trail – Located in the center of Singapore. One loop is about 10.5km and it is linked to the TreeTop Walk with 25m high solid suspension bridge for some fresh air and overlooking canopy. Boardwalks around the water. Simple trails, gentle ups and downs.

2) Mandai T15 Trail – Further away, peaceful and quiet. This trail is shared by bikers and hikers. Out and back about 10km if I remember correctly. A lot of loose rocks, roots, gentle ups and downs. There’s a part where you will come across lovely bamboo groves which remind me of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto and running through the short forest aisle. This trail can be quiet during weekdays but I do go there to run for the quietness. Plus, off beaten trail ( Fisherman Trail ) somewhere, the entrance is quite hidden, so better to open google maps for assistance. This short trail is along the reservoir water with a pool of turquoise water as you go further around the corner. Worth a stop for this eye catching view. Focus on the path because there are a lot of tree roots and uneven paths as you might trip over if you are not careful enough.

Parts of the Mandai T15 Trail

3) Chestnut Southern Loop – A loop of 2.1km with a separate hiker and bike trail. Winding trails overlooking the expressway, slightly rocky terrain, a short stretch of lalang field and perfect place to catch a little sun.

4. Are there any trail races in Singapore? If we come to Singapore for a race which race would you recommend to sign up for and why?

Yes, there are a few races here. We don’t have a lot of trails so most of the races are almost the same route. It is either looping, out and back or anti clockwise or clockwise. Races that I recommend are:

1) Garang Warrior Ultra - 4km loop, do as many loops within 12 hours. Plenty of food and drinks at the checkpoint. Half road half trail. Start and finish at the same point, so all participants and supporters will hang around, like a family outing!

2) MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 – this race brings you to the trails that I mentioned above. So if you want to explore Singapore trails, do this!

5. How is the trail running community in Singapore? Are there many women running and joining races?

Almost everyone knows everyone! The trail running community in Singapore is like a big family. We often bump into each other on the trails and chit chat about our routes, race advice and training. Throughout the years, the number of women in trail running and racing is getting bigger all the time and in other countries around Asia I have noticed this too. It’s really awesome that more and more women are getting involved and their mindsets are changing. I really want to encourage more women to come out and start running trails - it doesn’t matter how pretty you look, or how strong or fit you feel but you should give trail running a chance and you will feel fearless, push your limits and enjoy the amazing nature and challenges the trails bring.