Great Eastern Women’s Run 2013 – the men have it too!

This year at the Great Eastern Women’s Race, I saw a fair number of guys running alongside their wife or girl friends or partners. Later on on Facebook, some ladies was visibly angry at these guys for gatecrashing their party. But I think the guys who ran the GE run obviously don’t see it that way. 
These guys who were running are what is known in races as bandit runners. That is, runners who do not register for a race but still run in it. In the West, this is a big no no. But what is the big fuss? Those who bandited will argue? After all, they do not take the drinks, the gels, the banana and there are so few of them they are not likely to cause any obstructions. And beside, most will know enough to run to the side and not cross the finish line. So their argument will be that nobody has suffered an disadvantage because of them. And of course the line that everybody use. It is a public place and everybody can run in these place.

Not true. The other camp will argue. Most bandit runners will still take the drinks. And if everybody think like them and many more turn up, they will be an obstruction. And beside, what if they collapse during the run. The race people will still have to divert resources to them notwithstanding that they are not registered. And it is unfair to those who paid to run……
And so the arguments goes on. I am actually surprised that the GE organiser do not have bandit catchers. I saw the bandit catchers first hand at the previous years’ Shape Run and Nike Run and I was pretty impressed at the power of the security although I didn’t think they could outrun the bandits:) Maybe next time round I can volunteer to be a bandit catcher. Anybody want to join me?
But seriously, while I think the bandit runners are not correct to run without registering in the race, I think the guys in the GE Race had good reason to do so and that is to support their loved ones. I can understand why they do it since I am always running side by side with the sidekick although I have never bandit a race with her before. My support if they can be counted on as support is to drive her there, take her photo and drive her home. And beside, if I run with her, I will in most cases end up as the pacee and she the pacer.
But back to the bandit pacer. I think there is good reasons for races to have this category. The Malaysia Women Marathon this year had this. The Craze Ultra had this and many oversea Women races actually allows men registration. So if the problem can’t be resolved, maybe next year GE, Shape and even the Venus Run might want to create a new category for male pacers. Charge them a fee to run but no freebees except whatever is given to the ladies and no prizes. Then the bandit pacers will have no excuses to be bandit and the organiser – they might as well make a buck from it. After all, if you can’t beat em – might as well let them come it and have it too! 

Venus Run 2013

A race for the ladies. After a hiatus last year, this fun ladies only race organised by the SAA is back. The race at the Marina Barrage and Garden by the East required the ladies to run a short 5km out and back route. Weather was kind to the ladies and I could see the ladies had fun.

To add some spice to the event, Running Shots as the Official Photographer, held a contest for the most creative and outrageous attire and the ladies responded enthusiastically with many of them coming as fairy and angels. I guess it is not in the ladies nature to dress as something evil:)

These are just some of the ladies in fancy attires that I shot.

For more pictures, hop over to facebook/runningshots.sg

The GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012

Once again, another weekend, another race. But again I am not racing but kapoing. Not that I didn’t want to do this race but last I checked, I lacked the physical attributes to qualify for it. I did told the sidekick I can wear a skirt and run but she said don’t foul up the place with people’s vomit. Wondered what she meant by that? Anyway, the GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012 return for its fourth edition with a little bit of variation.

Previously, Great Eastern Life Assurance was the title sponsor of the event. This mean they paid for the rights to have the event named after that and that was basically it. They do not have “absolute” control over the rest of the details and organization. What happened this year, according to a little bird, was that Great Eastern decided that they wanted to increase the distance from the usual 10km to a half marathon but the event organizer did not want to. So there was a divorce and Great Eastern went ahead and appointed their own organizer to organize the event for them.

And what a right move to do! Just like last year was a year when every race seems to be hitting the pits with its poor organization, this year, every race organizer appears to be trying to outdo each other with great organization and generous freebies. I have not done many races this year but from feedbacks from friends and the chatter on the web, it was a good year for racing. I guess with so many events chasing the same pool of runners, the organizer had no choice but to up the stakes. The Yellow Ribbon as usual set the standard with its well planned route and carnival; the Newton provided goodies galore and even the TNF 100 got its acts right again. But the GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012 must in my opinion beat all of these hands down and could possibly be the best for this year if the SCMS maintained its poor route planning.
Noticed the GREAT? In capital letters? It was that GREAT!

When was there ever a race when the 3 categories of runners do not meet each other during the race? The 21k women had a different end route from the 10k and 5k women. There were no human jam and no congestion except for maybe the slower 10km runners who has to merge with the faster 5km runners.

    When was there a race where there is a “Powder Room” to freshen up after the race? The Newton race last week gave a cold towel to each runner to freshen up. The GE Women provided a covered tent with mirror and toiletries for the ladies to clean up!
      

      A participant cleaning her face at the “Powder Room”

      Nowadays, free food at the end of the race appears to be a norm. There were muffins, fruits and drinks at the Yellow Ribbon Run. At the Newton, there were free soya pudding, biscuits, fruits and ice cream. GE Women had muffin, fruits, ice cream and drinks and hotdog in a bun!

    The non-participants were not forgotten. There was a “playground” for kids and adults under the stand of the Floating Platform. The baggage deposit area was also under the stand which means the runners did not have to queue up in the sun to collect their bags.

    Most local races offer token cash prizes and product vouchers. GE Women had $10,000.00 for its first prize for the Elite category and $3,500.00 for the Open Category. Even the winner in the 10k Women Master’s category get $1,000.00. Except for the Gold Label SCMS, which other race in town offers such great cash prizes? 
    So the GE Women had it all. Great race experience, great scenic route and value for money. All perfect except for one small blemish.

      
    They inexplicably went to create an “Elite” category and invited 15 runners; both foreign and local to come under this category. The “Elite” champion gets to take home the $10,000.00 whereas the 2 runner up get $5,000.00 and $2,000.00 respectively. Then there is the Open category opened to the rest of the field. The prize money is $3,000.00, $1,500.00 and $1,000.00. The “Elite” runners also get to start 2 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
      
    These are the top 3 results in each category:
      
    1- 1:17:58; 2 – 1:18:28; 3 – 1:22:41
    1- 1:19:35; 2 – 1:24:02; 3 – 1:24:28
      
    So what’s the problem? Unfortunately, the results on the top row are those of the 3 winners in the Open Category whereas the results in the bottom row are those of the “Elite” winners. It was no wonder that the Kenyan woman who came in top in the Open wasn’t smiling when she receive her prize. One certainly wondered how these “Elites” were selected. Take the local runners who were “Elites”. There were at least 3 local runners who had finishing time that were faster than the 10th place “Elite” runner.

    The “Elite” Champion

    Do they really need to have an “Elite” category? Wouldn’t they just invite their sponsored runners and let everybody have a go at winning the top prizes?
     Other than this, I think looking at the contended face of the women; it was definitely a GREAT race. Too bad we guys still don’t get it!

    Venus Run No More

    The 2nd Venus Run for women has come to a premature end barely 2 weeks after registration opens. Scheduled for 11 March 2012 at the Bedok Reservoir, this race which was to celebrate International Women’s  Day has the dubious honour of being the first race in Singapore to be cancelled. Ostensibly, the reason as stated on the SAA’s website was “In order to ensure the best Venus Run race experience for you, it is with much regret that the Venus Run will be postponed till a later date.”

    Huh? When does having a best race experience means cancelling the race? Read between the lines, and I think the pure and simple reason is “Poor Response = Not Commercially Viable = Cancel Race”. 
    What do they expect? Launching a race just 1 month before the race day? And no publicity at all! It’s no wonder there is no response. Which is a waste considering that the sidekick who took part in it last year really enjoyed the race. In my opinion, last year’s race was one of the better organised and value for money race
    There are obviously lessons to be learnt here.
    1. Prepare for the event well in advance and launch it early (but not too early)
    2. Have a proper marketing program. Don’t take the running public for granted and assume that the public knows about the race and sign up automatically.
    I hope all the other race organisers out there sit up and take notice. Do not clap and applause that there is 1 less competition for the race money. If it can happen to somebody like SAA, it can happen to any other, especially the smaller outfit!

    GE Women 10K 2011

    Last year the sidekick skipped this race but this year due to the considerably attractive pricing (as compared to the other races), she is back for this and so poor old me got to drag my butt down to be driver and supporter.
    As usual, parked myself somewhere just in front of the start line. Seems like all the other guys also got the same idea and soon the stretch of Nicoll Highway was filled with photographers and staunch supporters. Spotted a few guys all decked out ready to run alongside their angels. 

     After the flag off, I moved towards the finish line but choose to place myself about 100 metres away to avoid the mass of photographers who had amass there. There had a fantastic view of the first few runners coming in.

    First was who else but a Kenya.

    Far behind was Suzy Walsham with Singaporen Ann Qi trailing her closely. Surprisingly though, Suzy slowed to a jog where I was and allowed Anne Date to overtake her to become the 1st Singapore Women 10k road run record holder. I really can’t understand why Suzy gave up her 2nd position unless she was totally tired like this poor lady.

    She was running erratically coming down the road and I think she was really badly dehydrated and was going to collapse soon. But with barely 100 metres to go, everybody was rooting for her to finish but unfortunately she collapsed into the arm of the security officer at the interim timing mat.

    The first of the 2 lady friends that I know, Stella and Roonz soon came in strongly to finish among the top 15. Too bad there were so many foreigners this time round otherwise with their timing, it would definitely have been a top 10 finish.

    A big surprise was Sumiko Tan didn’t do so well. Maybe she haven’t recover from the exertion last week when she finished top in the Sundown Ultramarathon.
    Then the mass of runners starts coming in and I was busy trying to look out for friends and interesting characters. 

    Happy to note that M managed to finish under 60 minutes despite the nagging problem with the foot. 

    Saw the security evicted 1 man, quarrelled with non-registered participants. One angmio lady started arguing and the guy pointed to her shoe. I think he was saying no chip. But the lady in the end just push him aside and ran off. But surprisingly, they allow a lady with a pram to complete behind though the rules said no pram!

    Walking around the Padang after the race, noticed the crowd of women happily queuing up for at the photobooth, for balloons (guess balloons are not just for kids); and whatever freebies that are available and I can understand nowadays why there are so many races just for women and none just for men.

    Photos that I took here

    Shape Run 2009

    Today is the 4th Shape Run for the ladies and this is what they got for their money:

    Oh and of course the run. This year they had a new route starting from Republic Ave instead of the usual Esplanade Bridge. Interestingly, they choose to start the 10km and 5km race 5 mins apart which only means trouble for the 10km runners as they will be likely to run into the recreational 5km runners at the last part. Also, on the way to the race, noticed they had closed off part of the road outside Marina Square with signs saying running in progress but later heard that the runners didn’t run there. More screw up: they had a finisher bracelet which I thought was a nice change from the usual finisher medal. But they choose not to give it to the runners when they cross the finish line but left the whole lot unwatch and in the open and many runners were just helping themselves to more than 1. Heard later that they ran out and some runners did not get it. The finishing line was outside Millennia Walk but it was franked between 2 construction sites and very narrow and cramped without much space for the supporters.
    Apart from that, the weather was kind to the ladies, there was free Vitagen and yoghurt, corn flakes etc so I think it wasn’t too bad all in.
    M did fairly well despite her lack of running in recent weeks. Surprisingly, most of the ladies from sgrunners  were missing. Did they miss the registration?