Come Sunday 20 August, the 25th edition of the Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon will be held – to commemorate 50 Years of National Service (NS), with a slew of new initiatives aimed at strengthening camaraderie amongst past and present national servicemen and at the same time, providing families with a glimpse of the NS experience.
CLICK HERE for my race review of Safra Singapore Bay Run and AHM (21.1km).
This was announced at a special event preview held at Safra Toa Payoh this morning and was attended by members of the media, runners and curious bystanders.
Jointly organised by Safra and the Singapore Army, the race has the aim of promoting fitness and bonding amongst active servicemen, NSmen and their families.
Significant year of commemorating NS50
Said Colonel (NS) Simon Lim, Chairman of the Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon Organising Committee and Director of National Service Affairs, Ministry of Defence, “This is a significant year as we commemorate NS50 and also celebrate the event’s Silver Jubilee.”
He added “Each year the run brings together over 300,000 past and present national servicemen, keeping their fitness and camaraderie strong. Through the new initiatives, we hope to further build on their shared NS experience and at the same time to recognise the contributions of all those who have served over the past 50 years.”
The NS50 Team Run
One of the new events include the NS50 Team Run, to give past and present NSmen a fresh opportunity to come together and strengthen their camaraderie. The new category has proven to be popular, with close to 200 teams registered so far.
Teams of 10 runners will each run a 5km route together to clock a total cumulative distance of 50km in commemoration of NS50. Participants of this category will each receive a NS50 commemorative medal specially designed to interlock as a set to symbolise the unity and close brotherhood forged as defenders of our nation, as well as a commemorative finisher tee each.
Said Lim, “Through our new category, we hope to bring the past and present NSmen back to commemorate this event to rekindle their friendships and build strong bonds. So past NSmen as far back as the pioneer generation can join us. This is a very important year for National Service in Singapore.”
NCC students will be taking part in the race
For the first time, students from the National Cadet Corps (NCC) will also be taking part in the event. This symbolises the passing of the baton to the next generation of soldiers in years to come. So a special contingent of 50 runners, consisting of NCC cadets together with their fathers, who are Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Operationally Ready Servicemen, will be taking part in the new NS50 Team category.
Other signature categories will take place too
Apart from the new category, the event will also consist of the other signature categories too, that is, the 10km and 21km competitive categories, the Safra 5km Fun Run and the Families for Life 800m Challenge for the kids.
The various categories will cater to runners of differing abilities.
Fine tuning of running routes for a smooth flow and minimisation of congestion
The running routes have been fine-tuned to ensure a smooth flow and minimise congestion too, while at the same time, enabling runners to enjoy the spectacular view of Marina Bay and its iconic developments. This year organisers have continued to ensure that the running routes are wide enough to accommodate the expected large volume of runners.
Said Lim, “We have enhanced the route to make the whole running experience a positive and meaningful one, to bring runners to various iconic places in Singapore like Marina Barrage. Runners will also go through a short stretch of East Coast Park and right through the Sports Hub, and we will end at the Padang. For areas where there were potential bottlenecks or congestion, we have looked into these too, so the whole experience this year will be a good one.”
Street side festivities along the route
A series of street side festivities will also be featured along the running routes to add to the sights, sounds and colours of the running experience. These include crowd favourites such as stilt walkers, mascots, belly dancers and percussion groups.
At the media launch we were given a sneak preview of what to expect – roving stilt walkers, mascots and a percussion band performance made an appearance and these colourful characters had been great in terms of rousing the crowd at the event, with photographers queuing up to take photos too. The mascots also playfully posed for a shot with me when I sat down – this had been quite interesting!
Post race carnival
The post race carnival will consist of no shortage of activities for families as parents and their children will be able to test their strength and endurance at tyre flipping, a common exercise used by the army to train strong soldiers. Parents will be challenged to flip the heavy tyres of the army’s five-tonne truck while children can try the lighter ones.
There was a tyre flipping station at the media launch event, and though I did not try it out myself, I could see plenty of children lining up to try their hands at it. Though not all of them succeeded at flipping the tyres, and I could see some of them getting help from their parents or the volunteers on-site, the main thing was that they were still having fun and enjoying themselves thoroughly.
As well, the Families for Life 800m Challenge will give parents the chance to run with their children in Army themed attire. Participants will get event tees featuring the Army’s pixelated camouflage design and as well, to complete the look, organisers will provide camouflage cream and hand out jockey caps to children at the start point.
I saw the camouflage tees at the media launch event on display. The designs of these definitely look rather cool and attention-grabbing, even though it is mainly the sleeves and not the whole tee shirt that bears the camouflage look.
What does Team Singapore Marathoner Ashley Liew think of all of the new initiatives that have been put into place this year? Said Liew, 30, a chiropractor at the Family Health Chiropractic Clinic, “I really appreciate the theme of ‘We Run Together.’ It is a really awesome way to celebrate NS50 this year. This is not going to be only a run; it will be like an event where everyone can come together. The NSmen can celebrate their camaraderie with not only each other but also with their families.”
He continued, “I have always appreciated how this event focuses on the culture of bringing in family, with the carnival like atmosphere and the obstacle course in the Families for Life 800m dash. These all tie in together to adopt this culture of inclusiveness and at the end of the day, would inculcate appreciation for the servicemen and their families as well.”
Liew has run in the event since 2004
A loyal supporter of the race, Liew has been taking part in the Half Marathon category of the Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon since 2004. He said “My first Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon was in 2004 as an overweight, non-sporty kid. I would take part every year in the premier Half Marathon event in Singapore so to go from an overweight kid to coming second in 2011 and 2012 is great. I had to take a hiatus after that because I was finishing my Doctor of Chiropractic studies in the United States. So this year would be a fitting return to the event since 2012.”
He is running the Half Marathon again this year. And Liew is hoping to go for the win. He said “I did end on a high note in 2012, coming in second, so I am looking forward to going for the win. That is on the cards. I mean, I am in good shape. It would also be good to run with my army division again after all this while. This event is all about bonding, so I am looking forward to bonding with them before, during and after the race as well.”
Tips for Half Marathon runners
Liew also shared some tips for those who are taking on the Half Marathon category. He said “One week before the race, it is important not to change your routine as there is not enough time to introduce something new. That goes for the workout, diet and shoes as well. Everything should be fine-tuned already. Treat the race like another run, and just that that run happens to be filled with thousands of other runners and friends as well. Do not try anything new on race day.”
He added “On race morning, I would wake up early and have a good breakfast and warm up beforehand. I take my warm up seriously because I don’t want to risk any injuries. When you start the race, do not go too fast. Keep at a steady pace and stay that way till you reach the finish line.”
Special rates for NSmen and the families of active servicemen
Like previous years, NSmen and the families of active Servicemen can continue to enjoy special rates to recognise their contributions to Singapore’s defence and support for NS.
This means that SAF NSmen pay $10 for the Families for Life 800m Challenge to $18 for the 21km Army Half Marathon.
For Family Members, they will pay $12 for the 800m event and $62 to participate in the 21km race.
In celebration of the event’s Silver Jubilee too, all runners will also get a 25th edition shoe bag. Other runner entitlements include a Limited Edition Army Singlet for SAF servicemen, NSmen and family members, or an Event Tee for Safra members and the public. 21km runners will receive an exclusive finisher tee only applicable to their category.
Also, all runners will get a personalised bib, and an exclusive finisher medal. 10km and 21km runners will have a timing chip on their bibs. Runners are entitled to an e-certificate too, as well as insurance coverage on race day.
Said Lim “We recognise the importance of having strong family support behind our national servicemen, enabling them to serve their NS duties with peace of mind and more importantly, to remind them why they serve – to defend their loved ones. We hope that our NS-inspired activities will give families a better understanding of what our national servicemen go through in NS.”
Over 27,000 runners have registered
To date, over 27,000 participants have registered for the Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon, across the various categories.
Added Lim “Come down on 20th August to experience fitness in a fun, exciting and meaningful way. This applies to not just servicemen but to the family members who have shown strong support to the servicemen; this event reaches out to the wives, parents and kids too, to join their husbands in a host of fun-filled activities. We have a line up of entertainment to make this into a very exciting experience for everyone.”