Race Review – NTUC Income RUN 350 [2016]

Organised by Young NTUC, the NTUC Income RUN 350 is billed as South East Asia’s premiere Eco Run in support of the Global 350 Movement, and aims to raise the awareness to lower the atmospheric carbon dioxide in the air to 350 parts per million. Today the level of carbon dioxide stands at 400 parts per million.

I spot one Cinderella balloon...

I spot one Cinderella balloon…

The 2016 edition of RUN 350 took place this morning with about 13,500 runners across the categories – the 21.1km Half Marathon, 10km Competitive Run, 800m Kids Dash as well as a brand new category, the 4km Fun on Wheels. In the Fun on Wheels Category, the participants had cycled, kick-scooted or skated through the 4km route to showcase the ease and availability of environmentally friendly options around Singapore.

I took part in the 21.1km race this morning.

I took part in the 21.1km race this morning. This was my running route.

Took part in the 21.1km Category

For me, I took part in the 21.1km Half Marathon Category, which had flagged off at 5am this morning.

I took part in the 21.1km race this morning.

Runners waiting to flag off.

At about 4.25am, I reached the Formula One Pit Building, where the race had started from. Here I caught up with a couple of friends and deposited my baggage at the “bag drop” counter, before heading down to the start pen, with about 20 minutes left to go.

The 21.1km race flagged off quite promptly, at 5.00am.

Sharks at the 21.1km starting line.

Sharks at the 21.1km starting line.

Tried to maintain a slow & easy pace

Once I started running, I had tried to maintain a slow and easy pace in the race, aiming not to stress my body too much after having already done a half marathon at the 2XU Compression Run, just the week before.

The race flags off!

The race flags off!

The first couple of kilometres passed by quite well and I was doing a good pace, with my heart rate where I had wanted it to be.

Haze creeping back

Race Pacers along the route.

Race Pacers along the route.

However, after a little more running, I soon started to pick up a familiar, smoky, burning smell in the air, and this began to affect me – I began to get a bit nauseated and my heart rate was soaring at the same time. This race wasn’t going very well, any longer.

But I continued to run slowly and tried to push on. The haze became more apparent as the sky got lighter and I could see iconic landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer shrouded in a cloudy smog.

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Runners out in full force this morning.

I wasn’t alone – other runners were also able to detect the haze. According to Ivy Kang, 32, an accountant in the oil & gas industry and who ran in the 10km race, she mentioned that the burning smell had been quite apparent for her too, this morning.

Well organised with no bottlenecks and well-stocked hydration stations

Spotted: A pink alien sneaking into this photo!

Spotted: A pink alien sneaking into this photo!

But the haze issue aside though, this year’s edition of the RUN 350 had been pretty well organised; there were no bottlenecks throughout the 21.1km route and the hydration stations were quite well stocked with water and 100PLUS isotonic drinks easily available too. The tables at the front always contained water, and those at the end always had 100PLUS so this was quite good.

Added Miriam Cowpland, 50, a Housewife who also did the 21.1km, “I thought there were big gaps between some of the hydration stations, but other than that, this was quite good in that there was plenty of fluids along the way.”

Runners hold hands as they cross the finishing line.

Runners hold hands as they cross the finishing line.

Distance was longer than 21.1km

Miriam also felt that the 21.1km distance was longer than it should have been. She said, “It was too long – about 800m longer according to my GPS watch. That can be quite annoying if you are looking for a personal best timing in this race.”

Runners pose for a photo after their run.

Runners posing for a photo after their run.

I also found the distance to be more than the advertised 21.1km. For instance, when I had been running towards the Jubilee Bridge, my GPS watch was already telling me that I had completed 21km. Yet the finishing arch was still nowhere in sight at this point in time – this can indeed throw off the pacing of runners who are targeting certain timings. My watch was also pretty much in sync with the watches of many of my other fellow runners, who had clocked distances ranging from 21.6km to 22km for the half marathon.

Continued Miriam, “Also, the kilometre markers were also not very accurate – from KM4 onwards, they were really way out.”

A runner tries out one of the green activities at the race site.

A runner trying out one of the green activities at the race site.

Kilometre markers made for an interesting read

However, despite their positioning, the kilometre markers made for an interesting read, though. This is because each marker contained ‘green’ messages to remind runners of what they should do, in order to take care of the environment and I thought this had been a rather unique touch by the RUN 350 organisers.

Runners enjoy a post-race massage.

Runners enjoying a post-race massage.

For example, I found out that using certain font sizes can help to save ink, or that about 70 per cent of the total paper waste around the world actually comes from offices. And during my race, I found myself reading through all of these, and looking forward to each new marker and the message that it would bring.

Said Markus Huber, 25, a Technology Management student from Stuttgart, Germany, who is on an internship in Singapore and took part in the 21.1km this morning, “The signboards were very interesting and I was reading them for the first 15km of my run, but I got tired during the last 6km so then I stopped reading. Some of the text was things I knew already, but others were interesting and they were an eye-opener.”

Runners sorted out some pens, in another green activity at the race village.

Runners sorting out pens, in another green activity at the race village.

Sundeep Khanna, 45, an accountant at a trading company who ran in the 10km race, also agreed and he added, “I would suggest that the race organisers put whatever tips they give on the signboards, on the website – I was finding out many of these nuggets of information for the first time, and while people may remember them soon after the race, we will eventually forget about it. Having it in a more permanent place can refresh our memories.”

Run’s Green theme had been emphasised at the race village

Winners pose with their unique "green" trophies - plants sealed in glass containers.

Winners pose with their unique “green” trophies – plants sealed in glass containers.

And at the race village, the green eco theme of the run had also been reinforced through interesting activities such as the “Carbon Footprint Game” where the race participants found out about their carbon footprint, and discovered new ways to give back to the environment and to lead a low-carbon lifestyle as well as exploring the future of green jobs.

Another green initiative at RUN 350 had also been the utility challenge whereby runners presented one of their recent utility bills. And if it reflected that their household usage was below the national average – they would receive NTUC FairPrice cash vouchers as a reward. Altogether 1,050 participants were rewarded in this way.

With my race medal and the lovely Singapore Flyer in the background.

With my race medal and the lovely Singapore Flyer in the background.

Indeed, some of the runners who took part in the RUN 350 this morning, are all already doing their part to play, to take care of the environment.

Said Markus, “I try to do things in my daily life, for example, I only turn on the lights when I enter a room, and I do not turn the aircon unless I really need it. These are small things that can really add up and help a lot in the long run.”

The race village is a hive of activity after the run!

The race village is a hive of activity after the run!

Sundeep and his family also implement similar measures at home. He said, “We do not encourage our kids to use the aircon unless the temperature is really soaring. We also sleep in the same room so that we don’t use unnecessary electricity.”

"Let's take a selfie together to remember our race!"

“Let’s take a selfie together to remember our race!”

He continued, “And we always remind our children on usage of water and food, and not to waste it. For food, we never buy them in large quantities – we only buy what we need. There’s no point in buying extra, only to have to chuck it out when it passes the expiry date.”

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