Puma Night Run 2014

The last time I did a road race in Singapore was March this year. And that is despite a running calendar that averages 2 races a week. And the last time I did a 10 km road race in Singapore was way back in 2012. So it was quite like a new experience to me to find myself at the starting line, well almost the starting line, of a 10 km road race on Saturday.
I have no intention of doing a 10 km road run in Singapore especially when more often than not, it is either at the Marina Bay or East Coast Park which is kinda boring. But this time round it was slightly different. Firstly it was to be at Sentosa, a place that I don’t get to run on very often and more importantly I don’t have to pay any registration fee as I was given a complimentary slot by the people from Puma Singapore.
So on Saturday night I found myself about 30 metres behind the Start Line.
Which remind me of another reason why I no longer want to do road races in Singapore. You see, more often than not, to maximise profits, the organiser tends to allow for too many participants but our narrow roads simply cannot cater for these huge numbers. Just like here where the runners are crammed into a 2 cars width road adjacent to the beach. 
After the flag off where I had to weave and pushed myself through the horde of walking couples, strolling and jogging groupies, I remember another reason why I don’t want to do local races. The participants simply lack race etiquettes and do not bother to place themselves appropriately in the correct start pen. Of course, organiser would have help by encouraging runners to sort themselves out but I suppose that will be like asking for the moon.
Walkers barely 1 km away from the start line
Fortunately for the Puma Night Run people, the organiser was sensible enough to start the 3000 runners in 2 waves alleviating the problem a little bit. After about 2 km, the path was finally clear enough to start running properly.
The thing about Sentosa is that it is a very small island and so there were many u-turns along the route. But kudos to the organiser, there was proper segregation of the 2 directions and the path was fully cordoned off so that no other people would wander into it. There were security officers at junctions and marshals at  every turn. Water points with isotonic drink and water were located approximately 3 km apart and I could see 2 ambulances on standby along the route. The route itself was fairly interesting. Starting from the Siloso Beach, we ran to the end at Tanjong Beach, made an u-turn and went up Allanbrook Road. This was where many people started to walk. Then we went up to the Satellite station! I was like wow! The last time I ran up here was in the Real Run in 2005 and since then I understand the road has been closed to public. What a surprise! We also ran into an area that was unknown to me. It was quite dark though and rather narrow and only 2 runners could run on the pavement at a time. Nevertheless, I quite like the route as it is definitely more challenging than the usual flat ground of Marina Bay or East Coast Park. The slight blemish was that on certain sections, we had to run on the pavement and that is simply too narrow to accommodate more runners. Nevertheless  I feel that is was one of the best managed route in all the races that I have done so far.
Unfortunately the ending point wasn’t as well organised. After crossing the finish line, each participant gets a medal, a bottle of mineral water and banana. No isotonic drinks. And then the runners have to walk to the Wave House which is where the Event Village was to participate in the free activities. However, there were not many signs to indicate what is where and I had to ask around before finding out that the collection of the free towel was on the 3rd level of some building.
On the bright side, participate gets to enjoy “surfing” at the Wave House plus entertainment by local bands.
Overall despite some shortcoming like the lack of directional signs at the main event ground and the narrow pavement, this has been one of the best organised race I taken part in. Crowd numbers were kept to a manageable size, adequate security and marshals, a fairly value for money race pack comprising of an event top, a sling bag, a waist belt and the towel and some value for money discount voucher for Puma products. Runners looking for something different should try this race next year.

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

So the claws are out – for the poor organiser of the 1st ever Hello Kitty Run in Singapore. Social media and rather surprisingly, even the main stream media has exploded on the so called “chaos” that erupted during the race.
The unhappiness stems from 2 main areas – the rain and the medal distribution.
First the rain. The organiser, Pink Apple (PA) is being blamed for the rain, the lack of wet weather plan, the lack of shelters, the lack of poncho and generally everything that is associated with the rain. But are they being fair?
How can anyone blame the organiser for the rain? That is something that is beyond even the PAP government control so how do people possibly expect  PA to ensure good weather? No wet weather plan? Actually all good event organiser will have one and in this case, PA do have. It is very simple. If heavy rain falls before flag off, postpone the start of the run. If  after postponing for a reasonable period of time and the rain does not stop, cancel the run. This has happened in several races previously but I can imagine if PA has really cancel the run and the rain stopped after say 30 minutes. I am sure the will be braying for the blood of everyone in PA.
Next some people went on to suggest PA should have provide poncho for the participant. And how do these people expect PA to do that? Put a poncho inside each race pack? Let be honest to ourselves. If they do that, how many will actually bring the poncho to the event? I dare say very few will do so. And distribute poncho on the ground? Do these people really expect PA to have 17000 to 18000 ponchos available at the site? And then if it rain after flag off like what happened on Saturday, how do they expect the PA to get the ponchos to the people that is already out on the route? And if they are under shelter, they don’t need poncho do they?
Some people even suggested PA put up shelters along the route. How many shelters do they expect PA to put up? And enough to shelter 17000 just in case it rains? That must be the most ridiculous self centred suggestions ever. If anything, Sentosa is probably the best place to run in the event of rain because there are buildings practically everywhere and especially along the beach with the many pubs, restaurants, rest rooms and other attractions. The people could have easily seek shelter at any one of these. Do they seriously expect PA to put up tents along the narrow roads of Sentosa!
So I think there is nothing that PA can do when it started to rain. After the first 2 waves were flagged off and it rained, they held back the next 3 waves and that was the best they could do. What else do the participants want?
Now on to the medals. According to the complaints, the distribution was chaotic. There was not enough medals for everyone and people collected multiple medals. And this to me was a big surprise. PA is a very experienced event organiser having organised many races with many on a bigger scale than this Hello Kitty. Usually, after the participants crossed the finish line, they will be directed to a chute where they collect the drinks, medal and finisher tees from volunteers. To ensure that people do not collect the medal more than once, it is usual for the volunteer to put a tick on the race bib. So exactly what happened?
I believe the rain was the main problem. Because of the rain, everybody squeezed into the Pavilion which was where the medals were being distributed. The number of people overwhelmed the volunteers and likely, just helped themselves to the medals on the table with the poor student volunteers being unable to stop them. Staff who raised their voices at the participants were labelled as being rude but how do you control an unruly crowd without being loud and firm?  The same thing happened a few years ago at the Shape Run where the people just grabbed the medals that were placed neatly on the table. Some people went behind the table and took medals from the boxes that were lying on the floor!
One of the criticism that were levelled was that PA should have marked off the bib. PA has informed that they had choose not to do so to avoid defacing the bib as most people would likely want to keep the bib as a souvenir. So a kind thought and gesture misfired. On hindsight, PA should have put a small box on the bib to check off or added a tear off tab at the bottom of the bib to exchange for the medal. 
So people took more medals than they were entitled to resulting in medals running out for those who came late. So whose fault it is? PA or the cheapskate participants who took more than they are entitled to?
Some other  criticism that were levelled at PA – the route was not 5 km. There was congestion at the bus station at the Siloso Beach end and people had to wait long period before they can get out of the island. Well, I don’t think any serious runners actually signed up for this to run 5 km. It is a fun run and most people I am very sure signed up more for the limited edition Hello Kitty plush and other memorabilia rather than for the run. And on their website, there is a statement that the distance was actually 4.2 km and not 5 km. For marketing purposes, obviously it is nicer to call it a 5 km run rather than 4.2 km run. 
About the congestion – Sentosa is always congested on weekends and long wait for the limited number of buses is expected as Sentosa do not allow private hire buses to ply on the island. So people should just have continue to enjoy the sights on Sentosa instead of leaving straight after the run. Isn’t that the purpose of travelling all the way to Sentosa for?
Of course, there are something that PA could have done better like being aware that Sentosa with its narrow roads cannot accommodate 17000 people at one good and kept the number to a more manageable size. Communicate with the volunteers could have been better so that the volunteers can inform the participants of updates instead of just relying on social media.
Ultimately, I think PA do not deserve all the flaks they are getting in the local media and social media. If anything, it is the ugly participants, the greedy one who took more medals than they should, the self centred one who think only of their own comfort and not think of how their ludicrous suggestion can not possibly be implemented and the spoilt brats who are asking for refunds for the “bad” experience but who have conveniently forgotten that their $65 or $75 already gave them an exclusive t-shirt, an exclusive plush toy and an unique personalised race bib which collectively is, I am very sure worth more than $75.00!

Puma Night Run

Themed run are popular here in Singapore and it seems apparel sponsored races are just as popular if not more. Ever  since Mizuno kicked off its Mizuno Wave Run, the other apparels have jumped on the bandwagon. There was Nike with its Nike We Run and Nike Women Run, Adidas with its King of the Road Series, Newton Challenge, Brooks Happy Run and now the latest to join the club Puma with its inaugural Puma Night Run

To kick off its first race in Singapore, Puma has seen it fit to have it at Sentosa instead of the usual Marina Promenade. It promises a challenging route with a portion of the route that is normally not opened to the public and a prize money of up to $9,000.00. On top of that, participants can get to party at the Sentosa Wavehouse with performances by local acts plus go wave surfing of course.
On top of the unique race experience, for those wondering what their $59 registration fee will get them, there is a Puma tee, Puma shoe bag and a Puma towel. Plus of course the usual medal and other sponsored gifts and vouchers.
To ensure there is no over-crowding and participants get to enjoy the experience, entry is limited to only 3000 participants. Registration closes 14 September 2014 so for those looking for a different running experience in a different setting, this could be it. 
For more details, go to the Puma Night Run website here

Brooks Run Happy 2012

This was billed as the first ever Singapore Party Run. Unfortunately, although the organiser did their best to create the party atmosphere, majority of the runners came more for the running then the party.. Still, there were a few who really got into the spirit of the whole party thing and came decked in their party best.

This guy has a jester hat!

This group was decked out in fancy attires

Our famous Catwoman forsake her costume for this red piece complete with red hair

And Miss Punggol came in a sexy 2 piece

There was a huge party at the end of the run at Marina Barrage with free flow of food, drinks and live performance.

Now all races in Singapore should be like this!