The ASICS Relay took place last night at Singapore’s first ever purpose build commercial airport – the Old Kallang Airport, with two race categories, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon.
Relay concept focuses heavily on teamwork
Focusing heavily on teamwork over individual running ability, the relay concept gives runners the opportunity to accomplish a Half or a Full Marathon together with three of their running buddies, as the idea of running 21.1km or 42.195km individually, may possibly seem daunting to some runners.
I took part in the 42.195km category together with Jaslyn Lee, Audrey Koh and Rebecca Lee (Bex) – who are all from Coached – a heart rate training programme for runners and triathletes that allows you to track, optimise and enjoy your training.
Audrey’s partner Mohamad Effendy (Fendy) had also turned up to show his support. In order to complete the relay, each of us were required to run 10.5km. This had been two loops of the 5.25km race track.
Checking the race village out
Though I had never been to the Old Kallang Airport before, the race village was not too difficult to locate. I reached the race site at about 5.15pm and caught up with my team mates before our first runner, Jaslyn had to head into the starting pen to begin the race.
I was the last runner, so I had plenty of time to spare before I was scheduled to run my leg. Audrey was the second one and Bex was the third runner.
While waiting, I spent time chatting to Audrey, Bex and Fendy. We also took a look around at the race carnival and had a good look at the various booths that were available to runners.
Grohe, the world’s leading provider of sanitary fittings and one of the sponsors of the ASICS Relay, had a shower truck for runners to clean themselves up after their run in an interesting touch to the event, and Pocari Sweat was also giving out cups of free isotonic drink to thirsty runners.
Rice bento bowls and Thai food had also been available for purchase at the race village for about $10 per serving. Face painting services, as well as some games such as a Rodeo bull as well as a parkour area were also available for runners, to further add to the fun carnival vibe at the ASICS Relay.
And Fendy helped us to get some refreshing fruity flavoured sng baos that were being given out for free to the participants, at the race village; I had the mango flavoured one and it was rather cooling and delicious – as it had been a hot afternoon.
Beginning to rain
Unfortunately just under an hour later, the sky began to turn black and it was threatening to rain, but despite that, the race still carried on though. So Audrey headed into the transition pen while Fendy, Bex, me and one of Fendy’s male friends, who had also come down to support us, had headed into the nearby Kallang Wave Mall in order to take shelter.
We headed to the Starbucks outlet there to chill out for a while, and then after that, we moved to the Chocolate Origin to try out their chocolate desserts.
By this time, our first runner Jaslyn had come back from her run, so she joined us at Chocolate Origin. As I have a sweet tooth, I tried out their chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream – and the influx of sugar was good to give me energy for my 10.5km run later.
At about 8.30pm, I left the Kallang Wave Mall and returned to the Old Kallang Airport as Audrey had finished and our third runner Bex was beginning her run, at this point. I had allowed myself plenty of time to stroll down, as I didn’t want to be late for my transition.
Race Carnival was well underway
When I returned back to the Old Kallang Airport, the carnival was well underway. There were live DJ performances as well as a performance by an urban drum crew in order to spice up the atmosphere and add a party vibe to the event. The music was loud, energetic and infectious.
I had a look around the race village again before slowly making my way into the fourth runner transition pen. By this time the rain had slowed down to a drizzle, which made it great weather for running.
Transitions were well arranged
When I was waiting in the transition pen, it was quite easy to figure out when to expect my third runner to come in – there was no confusion at all.
This was because there had been a large signboard positioned within the transition pen that was being updated in real time, when a runner crossed a timing mat near the finish line, that had indicated that he or she had 500 metres left to go. On display was each runner’s bib number, name and team name, so I had thought that this was quite idiot-proof.
As well, the time given was also ample, to allow the next runner in the team to get ready and collect the baton from his or her team mate.
Agreed Bex, “The transitions were seamless.”
Beginning my run
Bex completed her leg at roughly about 9.20pm. I immediately grabbed the baton from her and then I took off.
Route was simple
The route was quite a simple affair, taking runners from the Old Kallang Airport, past the Kallang River, Golden Mile Complex and Golden Mile Tower as well as the Lavender area.
It was a rather fuss free route, but because night had well and truly fallen by the time I started to run, I couldn’t really admire the scenery around me! So I had plugged into my music and chose to focus on my run, instead.
Running in my Easy zone
When I began running, I was mindful not to run too fast but to maintain my heart rate in the Easy zone. This had been a bit hard to do the moment that I had received the baton, because the first thought was to run a good time for my team and finish the relay strong.
Added Audrey, “It was easy to get really excited at the beginning of the race, especially for such a relay, when many runners went really fast because it was kind of a short distance for then. But I realised my heart rate went too high, too fast, and so I had to bring it down.”
But as I had just run a 32.195km race at Newton Challenge the week before, I had made sure that I slowed down soon after that, thus maintaining my heart rate in the easy zone. This was my goal at the ASICS Relay.
It was also quite easy to run at my own pace rather than following others, because the route was congestion free, as the 21.1km runners had well and truly finished their race, and there was only a sprinkling of 42.195km runners who were left to complete the run.
Jaslyn faced bottlenecks on her run
However our first runner Jaslyn had faced quite a different situation though. For her, there were bottlenecks along the route.
She said, “As the first runner, my only complaint is the two bottlenecks I faced at the narrow gate immediately out the race village and the short, narrow bridge along Geylang Road across Kallang River. It was so jam packed that we needed to stop running and walk instead.”
Jaslyn continued, “Maybe they should have separated the start time for the half and the full marathon runners.”
According to Jaslyn, she had counted more than 900 first leg runners in total, in the start pen when she went in.
Due to the drizzle when I was running, it also made for a rather cooling run for me. So I was able to maintain my pace at about 6.20-6.30 minutes per kilometre whilst keeping my heart rate firmly in the high end of my easy zone as intended. I felt thankful that the rain had more or less slowed down and that the lightning threat had ceased.
But I do admit that when I was running, there had been parts of the route that had some puddles and the ground had been slightly slippery due to the earlier downpour, but as I was not running at a very fast pace though, that did not affect me too much.
Nevertheless though, I had made it a point to continuously watch my step though as I was running, so that I did not trip up on any of the dark or uneven surfaces – I did notice some paths that had been relatively dark when I was running.
So I think that it would have been good if the organisers had installed temporary lighting, in order to light up the pathways for the runners.
Audrey faced moderate rain and lightning
But for Audrey though, it had been raining quite a fair bit and there had been some lightning too. She said, “I didn’t need to hydrate throughout the run because it was raining with occasional lightning. I was worried about the lighting though, as the route was mostly in the park, with lots of trees.”
Audrey added, “Also as the route was wet because of the rain, I had to be extra careful when I was approaching any drain covers or the makeshift wooden planks. It didn’t help when the route was not lit up, too. There was a portal after the second or third upslope where we had to go round it, to get back to the road. I saw a runner trip and fell onto the road, but he seemed okay and he continued with the run.”
Bex felt that parts were slippery
Bex also felt that that parts of the route were quite slippery, as it was still raining a bit during her leg. She said, “Some parts were too dark and slightly slippery with the rain. I slid a little on the first downslope into the park and had to go slow and easy on the downslope in case I rolled my ankle.”
She added, “Coming out of the park connector, there should have been a cone to draw attention to the slight curb. I almost tripped there.”
Roughly about one kilometre into my first loop, I had noticed there was a percussion drummer group and they were playing loudly on their drums to cheer on runners. This was great motivation but when I returned to the area to do my second loop, the drummers were no longer playing.
Instead the drummers had seemed to be resting – and sitting down on the benches. I admit I had been slightly disappointed by this, but then again, I suppose that they must have been tired, if they had indeed been playing and entertaining runners for the whole night though.
Neon coloured archway
Midway through each of my loops, I also noticed that there was a neon coloured archway for runners to run through. I thought this splash of colour had been a nice touch to the race and the bright colours had helped to bring a slight smile to my face in the darkness.
Bex also liked the percussion band and the neon archway. She said “I really appreciated the cheering sections along the way, the percussion group and the lighted arches. The route was easy and nice.”
In terms of the hydration available along the race route, there was one station positioned at the transition area; but unfortunately this one had already run out of both water as well as Pocari Sweat by the time I entered the pen.
But there had been another aid station at roughly the 2.5km point, and this one was fortunately still well stocked with both water and Pocari Sweat, which was a relief.
Kilometre markings were accurate and prominent
I thought that the kilometre markings were prominently positioned and the printing on them was large enough too, for me to be able to spot them easily in the dark. For the accuracy of the markings, I also thought that they were quite okay as the positioning of these had tallied quite well with my Garmin.
Agreed Jaslyn, “The signages were placed appropriately to guide the runners.”
Transition from the first to second loop
To indicate when the 42.195km runners had completed their first loop and were embarking on their second loop, we would receive a green wristband from the volunteer positioned at the end of the loop.
However I feel that this could have been more clearly indicated in the race guide or the pre-race instructions though.
This is because I only knew that I was to receive this wristband, thanks to my team mates who had informed me of it. But Jaslyn had been slightly confused at what the wristband had been for – after we were all done with the race, she admitted that she had thought that she was supposed to hand the wristband to Audrey!
I admit too, that I did not realise that the plastic green object was a wristband at first; I had thought it was a stick and so I was literally holding it on during my second loop and my team mates had informed me of it, afterwards!
But that said though, it had been quite clearly marked out that the 42.195km runners were supposed to go left to continue with their second loop and to go right when we were finishing our leg to hand the baton on to their next runner, or in my case, to complete the race for my team.
Finishing the race for my team
I had completed my 10.5km leg in about 1hr and 04mins.
And when I crossed the finish line, the volunteer handed me a huge cardboard box that was filled with plenty of items – like the team’s finisher medals, as well as plenty of bottles of Pocari Sweat, some healing patches and mineral water.
It was quite heavy and so I could barely carry the large box when I walked out of the finisher area to meet my three team mates and Fendy, at the race village.
Hanging around the race village after the run
After the race, it had been pretty late, about 10.45pm and a large majority of the earlier crowd had already cleared by this point – so the race village was now rather deserted.
But Fendy, my team mates and I had all continued to hang around to take plenty of photos at the race village, as well as to wait for the lucky draw which had been scheduled for 11pm. Unfortunately none of us won anything, though!
Chatting with HiVelocity’s Adrian Mok
I also had a short chat with Adrian Mok, the founder of HiVelocity Events and the events organiser of the ASICS City Relay, at the Pocari Sweat booth.
He was with Wina from Pocari Sweat at the time and it was quite nice to catch up with both of them again and take a quick photo with them before leaving the race village.
ASICS Relay was a seamless and well-run race and we all had lots of fun
Overall, my team mates and I, had all thought that the ASICS Relay had been a seamless and well-run race, that we would take part in again.
Said Bex, “Overall it was a well organised race and interesting route.”
Agreed Jaslyn, “Throughout the race route, it was rather well organised.”
And finally, we’d all agreed that all of us had had plenty of fun participating in the relay, too!