Another Year of SCMS Another Fiasco

Why does it not surprise me to read of all the complaints on social media about the Gold Label Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore? For a country that prides itself on doing things well and setting the standards for its neighbours, this race is the biggest blemish in Singapore’s reputation and a laughing stock of the marathon world.

Take this post from a Malaysian who was in Singapore to support his friends.

And the number of complaints on the SCMS’s Facebook page. Much has been said about that and I will not go into that except that I think the whole fiasco boils down the desire to make more money by cutting cost and not being concerned about the runner’s experience. 

The latest blow up is complaints by volunteers about not being given food and drinks, being yelled at and being paid a miserable $20 for volunteering from 11 am the night before to up to 3 pm on Sunday. You can read all about that here. I will talk about this in a later blog post.

But of course my pet subject is always about people cutting the course. And this year is no different. Very early in the race, I could see FM runners coming in. Looking at the way they running, I know they have not done 40 km in such short time between 3 to 4 hours. Not impossible but there are not that many local runners that are capable of doing sub 4. So as usual, I did a result search of a few random runners are here are their results:

Sure enough my gut feeling was not wrong and all these runners are marked as DNF (Did not finish). But the interesting thing is that all of them missed the checkpoints from the 10 km  onward until 38.5 km. This year because of the late start due to the baggage problem, the cut off time was extended to 9 hours and so I believe no runners were officially “diverted” which means these runners either ran the wrong route by mistake or deliberately cut the course. I could like to give these people the benefit of the doubt that they ran wrongly but if one had trained hard enough for the FM, they will realise that their timing was not possible and the route was too short especially after they see the distance markers. The more likely reason is that these runners ran the HM route while signed up for the FM. In any case, still the organiser fault. Did they deploy enough marshal to direct the runners onto the correct route? Was there any physical barriers to prevent runners from cutting the course?

The Singapore Marathon will never improve if it continue to priorities profitability. It has the ambition of becoming a World Marathon Majors. But until it buck up and go humbly to learn from the Japanese or Taiwanese, the WMM will just be a pipe dream.. But having said that, they might just be able to buy that rights with the money they make from this race. Like what they did to get the Gold Label status.

 

Singapore Marathon 2017

In every major marathon, the organiser will usually set up a pacing group to pace the runners who wish to achieve certain timing goal. The SCMS is no different and for the past few years, the Running Department, a group of seasoned running enthusiasts have been tasked with doing this job. They will wear tees with their timing standard on their back and have balloons tie to them to make them visible so that runners can keep track of them easily.

The Running Department has been doing a great job as evidenced by their being the official pacers for the past years. But this year, thing has gonna a bit confusing. Another running group has set up what is essentially an “unofficial” pacing group for the marathon as well. This group will have pacers from 3.30 hours to 4.30 hours slightly different from Running Department’s 3.45 hours onward.

This unofficial pacing group has rifled some of the pacers from Running Department and split opinion whether it is a good thing. Those in favour argued that the more the merrier. More runners can then achieve their target. Those against argued that the unofficial pacers will cause confusion to the runners, is not liable for any mishap and take away the credit from the official pacers.

Unfortunately when asked, the organiser has refused to take a stand and only repeated its position that there is only one official pacer.

So is the unofficial pacing group a good or a bad things. I suppose just like the argument against the new disruptive technology and to a certain extent, us volunteer photographers in Running Shots and the official event photographers, there are always pro and cons.

On the one hand, the so called unofficial pacers can, if they do their job properly help some runners to achieve their goals especially if it is in a time band that the official pacer is not able to provide. On the other hand, if the unofficial pacer group fail to do their job properly and runners who didn’t realise they are unofficial, follow them and subsequently failed to achieve their goal, who can they blame? The unofficial pacer or the organiser? 

Me think the official pacer group should be allowed to be the only visible pacing group so as not to cause confusion. Anybody who want to pace as a community service should either join the official pacing group and go through a proper structured pacer training  to ensure that they can do the job properly on race day. Or they can just run alongside a friend or a small group of friends as personal pacers and not be some visible group with their own timing target printed on their top.

Here at Running Shots, we don’t call ourselves unofficial photographers. Neither do we openly declare that we will be covering an event (unless we are invited to do so by the organiser). We don’t even announce where we will be parking outside to shoot photos. Why? Because we recognise that there are official photographers and we should let them do their job properly without interference from any other parties trying to cash in on their territory. Having said that, I think there is room for everybody to co-exist but everyone need to be mindful of their own position and respect each other. After all, this is a voluntary effort and not some profit making scheme and there should not be any competition to be one upmanship against the other. 

 

Australia Diaries – Running – Blue Mountains

We drove straight from Sydney airport to the Blue Mountains but by the time we had our lunch and checked in, it was rather late in the evening. But since we were staying at Echo Point itself, we had to check out the place and then we the trails leading down from the lookout. And I knew I have to run – notwithstanding the cold and that it was going to get dark in barely 45 minutes.

Changed to a long sleeve top and short and off we went. We had no inkling where to run – got trail just run. There were actually 2 – one towards Leura and one towards Scenic World. We figured with our limited time to play safe and just ran to the right and u-turn when we feel that it was too dark to go on.

The trail was a fairly nice cemented path initially but gradually it became just a dirt trails with many steps going up and down.

Along the way, there were many “lookout point” where the Park authorities had conveniently put in barricades to stop people from falling over the cliff while admiring the valley down below.

We stopped too often to take photographs and by the time we reached Katoomba Falls Creek, it was getting dark.

Not willing to be caught in an unknown places in the dark and cold, we turned back reluctantly. We had only ran about 1.5 km making a total of 3 km return. Still it was a nice run made beautiful by the gorgeous view and the setting sun.

So beautiful that it make me want to come back and do the Ultra Trail Australia ……….

Australia Diaries – Running – South Bank Parklands

Another of the thing on the top of my list to do in a foreign country is to do a short run – to burn away the excess calories from consuming all the good food during the trip and to explore the city on foot in as short a time as possible. For Brisbane though, the schedule was so packed that we couldn’t find much time to do a decent run. In the end, because we stayed in the city near to South Bank, we decided rather than tour the area like a tourist, we will do our run there.


South Bank strike me a lot like our Singapore River not just because it is alongside the Brisbane River but there are many historical bridges over it and the ever present giant Ferris Wheel. Singapore has its Singapore Flyer and Brisbane has it Wheel of Brisbane. There are also many eateries at South Bank just like at Boat Quay and Clark Quay back in Singapore. And of course there is a dedicated space for cyclists and runners. Just like our park connector.

We started our run at Victoria Bridge on the other side of Brisbane River where the casino is. Such a pity that such a beautiful building has been converted into a casino. Continue Reading →

Coffee Tea Runners Running Clinic

Attended a running clinic held by Coffee Tea Runners. The Coffee Tea Runners is a running group formed by running enthusiasts. They hold weekly run every Thursday at the Labrador Park and also volunteer as pacers for races such as The Performance Series. In fact, they are recruiting pacers for this year series and welcome volunteers to try out.

The first part was by Mr Peter Tan from Justrunlah.com. He talked about the setting up of Justrunlah as a web portal for runners and 3 years later, it has grown and evolved into not just a web portal but a running community and race organiser. With just a small team of 5, it has managed to maintain a website that has gone international with over 200000 members from 5 countries; created an app for runners and even organised a Race series, The Performance Series!

The next segment was a talk by Dr Derek Li, one of the top marathon runners in Singapore. His talk was on training for a race. He touched on the importance of total mileage as opposed to speed and even distance clocked in a run. He also talked about recovery with special emphasis on getting enough sleep. Last but not least, he went into some pointers on choosing a running shoe. 

The final segment was a short stretching and strength exercises conducted by Dr Derek Li

Finally at the end of the session, there was a short sharing by one of the sponsor,  Apex Pharmacy on its joint lubricating product Flexiseq. Flexiseq is not, contrary to what most people think, a glucosamine cream. In fact it is a lubricant that once absorbed into the joint can form a lubricating layer with the synovial fluid.

 

Running @ Leisure Farm Resort

Whenever I go away, I try to get in a short run and it was no exception when 2 weeks ago, we stayed over at a friend’s place at the posh Leisure Farm in Malaysia. The place is big – real big. It sits on 1765 acres of land spread over 7 gated compound and 4 strata plots and comes with facilities like club house, swimming pool, orchard and f&b outlets.

Just to get an idea of how big the place is, we stayed in a bungalow in one of the gated compound and managed to do a complete loop of 10 km within that compound alone!

It was a cool morning when we started our run. It fact it was threatening to rain but thank goodness the weather held and we had an enjoyable time exploring the place.

The place was built apparently on an old forest converted to palm tree plantation to now residential and it is very hilly.

Beside the slopes, there are many many empty plot of lands waiting for some rich landowner to built their own bungalow.

We came upon a beautiful little stream and we could run alongside it for a short distance before we went back on the road.

On the road, there were many big bungalows, some typical European design with big driveway, porches and arches. Then there were the modern type with big glass facade. And there is this futuristic house

There is a little canal or creek as they called it.

The highlight was when we came to this place.

A dead end but a very tempting looking place. Good for trail running and birding! But since we were guests, we didn’t enter the area and choose to continue running on the road. That was when we heard some rustling up in the trees. My immediate thought was macaque but it turned out to be this:

A big band of Dusky Leaf Langur! What a nice surprise and a nice way to wrap up the run.