Grab your trainers and beat the Singapore heat with an early morning run. Adam Jordan from ANZA Running takes us for a jog around the Little Red Dot – and recommends some top breakfast spots too.
Central, Marina Bay & Singapore River Run
The loop around Marina Bay is one of the most famous and popular running routes in Singapore, taking in some of the island’s most famous sites. We at ANZA Running sometimes do the following run which is approximately 10km, starting and finishing in Raffles Place. First, we head north across the Cavenagh Bridge and then towards the Esplanade Theatres, at which point we head back across the river to the Merlion, the icon of the city. Even at an early hour there are plenty of tourists to dodge here! Past the Merlion, our route follows the water’s edge, past the historic Fullerton Bay Hotel (the arrival point for passenger ships in colonial times) and Customs House, then past the Marina Bay Financial Centre and around to Marina Bay Sands.
Before crossing the bay via the Helix Bridge, we like to rack up a little bit more distance by running past the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome to the Marina Barrage. The Barrage has a sloping green roof that’s perfect for a little bit of hill training, with a great city view from the top as a reward. This is a nice spot to pause and catch your breath before heading back to the Helix Bridge. A sharp left turn on the other side will take you past the Float (the floating platform at the mouth of the quays) and back to Esplanade Theatre and Cavenagh Bridge.
There’s no shame in stopping here, especially if it’s been a fast run, but for a little more distance we like to keep going along the north bank of the Singapore River as far as Clarke Quay before crossing the bridge and running back through Boat Quay to the finish line at Raffles Place. One of the great things about this course is that the length can be easily extended by crossing one of the other bridges further upstream as the pedestrian path continues on both sides for a couple more kilometres.
The city centre can be a bit of a ghost town on the weekends, but there is one great café right in the middle of Raffles Place. The Providore serves breakfast from 9am on the weekend and has a range of tempting food options and great coffee. There’s also outdoor seating which is perfect for sweaty runners. The Breakfast BLT and English Breakfast are good options for post-run carb loading, while the Organic Muesli is a good lighter choice.
East – Kallang Basin & East Coast Park
For our most recent weekend run, we did the following 9km course which started at Stadium MRT and crossed the suspension bridge to Tanjong Rhu before following the water’s edge around to the ECP motorway flyover. Turning left here takes you along the north edge of Gardens by the Bay East and the Marina Bay Golf Course before entering East Coast Park from its westernmost extent. It’s the site of the weekly East Coast Parkrun which is a free (and fun) 5km run every Saturday morning at 7:30am.
Heading further into East Coast Park, after a couple of kilometres, the path starts running parallel to the coast, with great views of the Singapore Strait (and the multitude of container ships sitting offshore). One reason why this is such a great place to run, is that there are segregated running and cycling paths, with plenty of other people out and about enjoying the morning. After a few kilometres following the coast, we usually start thinking about breakfast and head inland at Siglap Canal, but there is plenty more park to explore for those who want to do a longer run.
There is a pedestrian bridge at Siglap Canal to cross the ECP, after which the footpath continues north along the side of the canal. The last time we did this run we saw two wild otters playing in the canal along here, so keep your eyes open – but be careful, since the footpath is a park connector and gets a lot of bicycle traffic. Continue straight along the canal at the first traffic lights and turn right at the second (East Coast Road). This is the closing stretch of the route which ends at Penny University, one of our favourite spots for breakfast in the Katong / East Coast area.
The owner of this café was trained at the famous Prufrock café in London and it shows in the quality of the coffee on offer here. In addition, a good range of food options is available including Turkish Eggs, the house speciality which comprises two poached eggs with yoghurt, harissa and sourdough- not common in Singapore! We also sampled the French Toast which was very tasty (although lacking granola which on our visit was not available). All in all this is a great place to refuel after a beachside run. To head back towards the city, just return to Siglap Canal and walk another fifteen minutes to Kembangan MRT.
North – MacRitchie Reservoir & Rifle Range
OK, full disclosure: MacRitchie Reservoir is only ‘north-ish’, but it IS one of the nation’s best running spots. The most common route here is to circumnavigate the reservoir (a convenient 10km).
The best meeting spot is the taxi drop off point on Lornie Road, and from there we start running clockwise, keeping the water on the right. After a few minutes there’s a zig zag bridge. A sharp turn right after the bridge marks the start of the Lornie Trail and the course becomes an unpaved forest track after this. Please be careful to note the many trip hazards along the trail.
After a few kilometres, there is a break in the forest and the trail skirts the water’s edge again, past the Singapore Island Country Club. The trail becomes a boardwalk where it re-enters the forest and after a few minutes it passes the Jelutong Tower which has very nice views from the top if a little stair training is desired. If not, it might be best to keep following the trail to the turnoff for the Rifle Range trail. This trail is much quieter than the main route and also a bit rougher; there is even a little stream with stepping stones to cross. The trail continues for a couple more kilometres before emerging at the trailhead at the end of Rifle Range Road. From here, we run along the road all the way to the PIE, past a number of local landmarks including the Singtel satellite station and the Temasek Club.
Just after the underpass at the PIE, the road passes next to the Rail Corridor (another great running route) and this is where we usually stop. It’s also close to a great café: Rise and Grind (Bukit Timah Plaza). The setting is a little strange (it’s in the car park) but there are some pleasant outside seats for sweaty runners. Our recommendations include the Mexican-style Huevos Rancheros, Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict and “Avo-ka-Dukkah”.
West – Harbourfront to Kent Ridge
This run involves some serious hill training but it’s only about 8km in total. The first part is the steepest, straight up the Marang Trail from Harbourfront MRT to Faber Peak. Sometimes we run up, sometimes we walk – mostly it depends on what we got up to the previous night! From the top, the course is a gentle downhill as far as the Henderson Waves; then it’s uphill again!
The trail continues through Telok Blangah Hill Park, skirting around the peak of the hill, and then onto the elevated boardwalk that winds through the forest canopy towards Gillman Barracks. This is a very enjoyable way to experience the forest from a different angle.
Next, the route crosses the Alexandra Arch across Alexandra Road, and enters HortPark. It’s an interesting place to explore at leisure, with a wide variety of landscaped areas including a butterfly garden. The route rises again towards a very historical place in Singapore: the site of the Battle of Bukit Chandu, which took place just before the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces in WWII. We then cut through Kent Ridge Park, emerging onto Science Park Road, before the route ends at One-North MRT station. The Bread Yard is an artisanal bakery with a wide range of breakfast options at reasonable prices including a “free-form” list of ingredients to assemble your own plate. Also try the pancakes and breakfast pastries for those with a sweet tooth!
GRAB YOUR TRAINERS!
Have a route or breakfast recommendation for us? Please get in touch on Facebook at “ANZA Running”. We look forward to seeing you out there!