Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dear Singapore race directors

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 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... 


  1. I kind of wish more races in my area gave "real" awards. I hate to be demanding, but seriously, who wants a plaque? Whereas a running jacket or even a free pair of shoes - man, that would be awesome!

    1. Yeah - that would be excellent! The Pioneer Road Run had a partnership with Brooks and a couple of other health-related companies, so even though it was a small community run, the top prizes were shoe vouchers (...and the last couple of prizes were like, toasters or something like that. Odd but kind of endearing.)

  2. I ran a 5K this spring where the age groups were under 18, 18-35, & masters, the first time I've run into that in the US. It was a small community race so I could see them not having the budget for a *whole* bunch of age group awards, but I totally see how that could get irritating if it was the norm at most races you attend. Good luck with the Olympic Tri!!!

    1. Thanks!
      I like small community races and am willing to cut them more slack; for example the ultra I volunteered at had no awards or age-group anything but it was really, really well-organised and well-supported. But yes, youth/ 18-35/ masters is the norm here - even at the big corporate events. I feel like Singapore's running culture emphasises participation over performance, and there are pros and cons to this - it does get a lot of people lacing up their sneakers and being active. But I'd love the extra encouragement of age-group awards!

  3. My favourite races are the ones where they have five year age group categories. That way you have a little hope in hell of placing when you're in the second half of the decade.
    I had a message to pass on to you from my coach. You and any of your friends coming over to the Gold Coast Marathon are welcome to use our tent as a base for the race.

    1. Thank you so much! Now I get to meet the legendary Coach Chris (feel free not to tell him I said that if it'll just go to his head). And I look forward to sampling your fabulous cupcakes. I'll probably do a day-trip to Brisbane sometime during the week, too.
      Man, five year age group categories...what a novel idea. :P (Doesn't help me, alas; for triathlon intents and purposes I am in the terrifying 'fast ladies'* category (30-34) for the next few years.)

      * - fast ladies who often are now earning enough to buy their own fancy bicycles.

  4. Are you on Facebook? I can message you my details or send them via email so we can catch up while you're here.

  5. Hehehe....triathlon, baby!!!! Go Grace!