Dear Singapore race directors / organising firms,
I'm trying to pin down my race calendar for the rest of the year, and here's how to get my hard-earned $$ and how to make sure I really train for your race:
- My basic requirements are, as always: a) Is the distance correct? b) Does the race start on time?
- Would it kill you, really, to tell us what the route is...at least a month in advance?
- Please make sure there is ample water. In case you haven't noticed, this country is rather hot and extremely humid. There is absolutely zero excuse for running out of water. Especially at a small race.
- I love it when races give away photos (aka photo price is included in the race fee) or make the photos low-cost for runners. No use making three lonely shots available for a package price of $39 - who buys those? There are plenty of hobby interest groups who will shoot for free or a nominal fee. But if you're keen on getting professional photographers to do the job, make sure you pay them what they deserve - they will be shooting for 7 to 9 hours before, during and after a marathon.
- Please brief your volunteers well! A useful answer to "This road's closed for the race - how do I walk from point A to point B?" instead of 'uh, I dunno' will go a long way in helping runners as well as members of the public, and make the public more charitably inclined towards big fat races that set up shop in their neighbourhood. (On a related note, I wish more runners would volunteer. Most race volunteers here are high school or university kids volunteering to get community-service points; while they are usually sweet and enthusiastic, they don't always know what runners want or need.)
- Same day or same-weekend race pack pickup would be really nice. Singapore is small so it's not absolutely necessary, but races that attract international participants (Sundown, Standard Chartered) already have this. It would be a tiny bit more convenient...
- Giving out proper age-group prizes would put a little more competitive fire in our heels! I remember doing a very small race (Pioneer Road Run) where the top 10 finishers would get prizes - I tried to chase down the lead women and didn't wind up top 10, but ended up 12th with a shiny new 10K PR. (I was not lying when I said I haven't a competitive bone in my body...only my muscles are competitive...) Right now, most running races here have just two giant categories - 18 to 35 and 'masters'. My usual reaction to that is 'meh, I'm never going to win anything so I'll just chug along - maybe I'll PR if the stars are aligned'.
- You know what's worse? I've seen some triathlons that do proper age groups for the men, but lump several women's age groups into one. Not exactly fair is it? It's not as though the women aren't training as hard. Sure there are fewer women in triathlons here in general, but that is absolutely not an excuse for differential treatment. (My gold standard is Metasprint - go and see how they do it.)
- Another thing on my wish list: Live results posted at the finish, or at least same-day race results. Okay, this is much harder when there are thousands and thousands of runners - even a 'small' race like the Venus Run has a couple of thousand participants. But the Metasprint triathlon series I've been doing has laptops with your live results and it's always fun to check your results and your friends'. Really, there is no reason to keep participants waiting for results for a whole week.
- And something really, really basic: don't mix up net time and gun time, dummy.
In related gumby news, I will be doing something that scares the eff out of me: I signed up for my first-ever olympic-distance tri in September. Time to get a new pair of goggles and clear the cobwebs from the bike...