The ASICS City Relay took place last night at the National Stadium with over 3,000 runners participating.
Billed as Singapore’s only night relay run, the ASICS City Relay took place at the Singapore Sports Hub with two categories – a Full Marathon (42.195km Team of 4) and a Half Marathon (21.1km Team of 4).
The route had been the same for both categories, but Full Marathon runners each completed two loops of the course, whereas the Half Marathon runners each did just one.
I took part in the Full Marathon category together with Gareth Chang, Cora Ang and Kwek Joon Keng.
Got to the Sports Hub at 5pm
I got to the Singapore Sports Hub just after 5pm in the evening and met Gareth and Joon Keng – before heading into the National Stadium where the race flagged off at 6pm for both categories of runners.
Once inside the stadium, we hung around with a few other running buddies for a while. Cora reached the National Stadium at around 5.30pm.
Race flags off
After a short motivational talk by Olympian and ASICS sponsored athlete Neo Jie Shi – to hype up the runners, the ASICS City Relay 2016 flagged off sharply at 6pm. As I was the 3rd runner, it would be some time before it was my turn to run.
At this stage, it was not very clear whether the Full Marathon runners would complete their two loops consecutively or whether we would be having a break in between. So many of us were quite confused.
But in the end it turned out though, that we would be running the two loops consecutively, that is, we complete 10.5km at one go before subsequently passing on the baton to our team mate.
To be honest, as this was a relay, I would have thought the format would have been to complete a 5.2km loop before passing on the baton, and then taking a one and a half hour break before the next loop.
Agreed Cora, “It would have been more vibrant if it was like a real relay. If it were 5.2km loops, then the first runner also would not have to suffer so much in the heat.”
During the race, our team’s first runner, Gareth, had actually point out that his leg had been quite hot – due to the Singapore climate and humidity.
Looking around the race village
I also had a look around the race village before my leg was scheduled to begin. There were plenty of photo taking booths and opportunities on-site, including stilt walkers in coloured LED light costumes.
But the queues were quite long though. Cora pointed out, “The activities seemed fun, but the wait time was long so I didn’t bother.”
As well, runners could take part in a mini obstacle course to win attractive prizes – I didn’t try this out though, because I did not want to tire myself out prior to my run.
Waiting to run had been quite relaxing and comfortable though, thanks to the air conditioning and ample seating inside the National Stadium.
My relay leg starts
My relay leg had started a bit after 8pm.
The transition area was pretty smooth, with a big leaderboard announcing the team names of the runners who were entering the stadium. This helped me to know exactly when Cora, our second runner, was about to complete her two legs…and thus for me get ready to run.
Taking the baton from Cora, I ran out of the stadium and through the carpark… and then suddenly the full force of the Singapore humidity hit me. It came as a bit of a shock – after having spent the past couple of hours in air conditioning.
Running through the dimly lit carpark for the first time though, I must also admit that it felt a bit eerie – and was also strangely lit up in neon lights. The fact that there were less people, too, when it came to my turn to run, also added to the slightly spooky feeling.
But I already knew what to expect during my second loop though, so the feeling was thus not so bad.
Cora, our team’s second runner though, had pointed out that during her second loop last night, running through this carpark, it felt more eerie – as there were fewer people by that stage.
She said “On my second round the carpark was a bit scary because there were not so many people as the first round.”
Race route was mentally draining
The race route itself, I must admit, had been a bit mentally draining especially on the first lap, as there were quite a lot of loops, twists and turns. Also, seeing the National Stadium from different angles also didn’t really help, because it played on my mind, making me think that I had run more distance than I actually did. This was especially so in the final 2km of each loop.
As well, there were also a few slopes along the way but these were generally not a problem though.
Added Gareth, “The turns were quite ok and there were a bit of down slopes but it was generally rather mild.”
The second loop however, was easier in terms of how I was able to pace myself better, since I knew what to expect in terms of the twists and turns that were involved.
Hydration was ice-cold
The hydration was excellent along the route, with ice-cold Pocari Sweat available to runners. This had been really welcoming and delicious during the humid evening.
Agreed Cora, “I liked the fact that the drinks, even at the end, were all ice-cold!”
Race Marshals were good
The marshals also did a great job in telling us where to turn – so that runners did not accidentally clock extra mileage. This had been especially important for the third and fourth runners, as there would not be so many people out on the course to follow.
Agreed Joon Keng, “There were a number of twists and turns, moderate up and down slopes, but it was generally clearly indicated with directional signage and marshals who cheered us on throughout the run.”
He added “There were also marshals on bicycles to keep a lookout for the runners.”
Baton lit up and glowed in the night
What I also quite liked was the neon lit baton that could be worn round the wrist. Our team’s one was yellow; and as I was running through the night, I could see it glowing a little in the dark. That was quite cool. However the only drawback though, was that the baton was quite sweaty by the time my turn had come!
Completing my leg
It was a relief to complete my leg and run into the stadium, pass the baton to Joon Keng, who was our team’s last runner… and then collect a bottle of ice-cold Pocari Sweat from the post-race finisher’s entitlements booth.
Waiting at the National Stadium after running, I took the time to catch my breath, hydrate myself with Pocari Sweat, and simply recharge my batteries.
I also spent some time taking a couple of photos – to mark the memories.
When Joon Keng had returned – just over an hour later, we took some group shots and then headed off to supper with several of our other friends – to replenish the calories that we had burned during running. This had been a great way to cap off a fun evening out.
Event had been well organised
Overall my friends had thought that the ASICS City Relay was a well organised race – as a whole.
Said Gareth, “Overall the event was well managed logistically. The crowd size was not too packed so the traffic for the run was quite smooth. But the only unforeseen condition was the weather which was exceptionally warm.”
Possible improvements for future editions
Cora shared his sentiments – but at the same time, she felt there could have been some improvements.
She said “Staggering the start times would have kept more people around till the end. And if they had started the half marathon category later, to end closer to the timing of the full marathon, there would be more people around – as the National Stadium was quite empty near the end.”