Race Review : Pocari Sweat Run Singapore 2016 – Running to the Moon

The fifth edition of the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore flagged off last evening at The Float @ Marina Bay.

10KM Runners await flag-off at the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

10KM Runners await flag-off at the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

Attracting 10,000 runners participating in the two race categories – the 5KM and the 10KM competitive runs, the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore this year had an intriguing theme of  ‘Run to the Moon.’

Completing the distance from the Earth to the Moon

A runner wears a suit to race.

A runner wears a suit to race. His colleague wears not just a suit, but also a horse’s head!

This is because runners who have taken part in the previous editions of the Pocari Sweat Run have contributed a cumulative distance of 300,000KM and the total distance from the Earth to the Moon is 380,000KM. So the 2016 edition was momentous as runners completed the remaining 80,000KM to conclude the ascent of Pocari Sweat, to the Moon.

Pocari Sweat Singapore runners had thought that the theme was quite an unusual one. Said Monique Huisman, 34, a Graphic Packaging Designer, “It was a great thing for Pocari Sweat to try and achieve something so ambitious. Honestly at first the theme went a little past me, but after finding out more, then it started to make more sense and I think it’s really good.”

Pacers from ASICS running club are all hyped up for the run.

Pacers from ASICS running club are all hyped up for the run.

The Pocari Sweat Lunar Dream Capsule Project

This unique theme had actually been tied closely with the Lunar Dream Capsule Project, which is linked to Pocari Sweat’s ambition to be the first beverage in history to successfully launch and land on the surface of the Moon.

To tie in with the Run to the Moon theme, an astronaut makes a guest appearance.

To tie in with the Run to the Moon theme, an astronaut makes a guest appearance. [Photo courtesy of Pocari Sweat Singapore]

Designed and developed in partnership together with AstroScale, the Lunar Dream Capsule contains Pocari Sweat powder – with the hopes that the beverage can one day be made with water found on the moon’s surface.

Said Nobu Okada, Founder and CEO of AstroScale, “Our partnership with Pocari Sweat is based on a mutual love for challenges and excitement to be the first private payload project to the Moon. It is my hope that the next generation will inherit this desire to overcome challenges to open this capsule.”

Gym trainers hype up the runners with warm up exercises before their run.

Gym trainers hype up the runners with warm up exercises before their run.

Took part in the 10KM race

I took part in the 10KM race at 2016 Pocari Sweat Singapore Run. This flagged off at 6.30pm. I must admit though that I had felt a little nervous at whether the race would commence because it had been raining during the morning and threatened to start again in the afternoon.

But fortunately the skies cleared up, giving way to a really nice and cool evening… by Singapore’s standards.

The 10KM race flags off.

The 10KM race flags off.

Watching the 5KM race flag off

I reached the race village just before 6pm, in time to watch the flag off for the earlier 5KM run. It was quite cool that the organisers had decided to play Pokemon themed music… possibly to capitalise on the Pokemon Go craze that has been currently sweeping the world.

Unfortunately though… I did not manage to spot any wild Pokemon at the race site nor during the subsequent run later!

Pacers and runners are shooting out the blocks.

Pacers and runners are shooting out of the blocks.

There to flag off the 5KM Men’s and Women’s categories with Wina Wong, Country Manager of Pocari Sweat Singapore, had been Dr. Wong Tien Hua, President of the Singapore Medical Association; Eunice Toh, Executive Director of Tan Tock Seng Hospital Community Fund; Whang Shang Ying, Chief Executive Officer of Lam Soon Singapore Pte Ltd; and Mui Kok Kah Wei, the Senior Director, NTUC FairPrice (Purchasing and Merchandising).

I then spent the next 15 minutes hanging around the pre-race village, before heading to the starting pen to try and get a good starting spot. It was quite crowded – which was quite overwhelming – but thankfully I was fortunate enough to get into the first wave. I think the crowds may have been caused by a combination of late 5KM runners combined together with the masses taking part in the 10KM race.

Runners pass the iconic Marina Bay Sands.

Runners pass by the iconic Marina Bay Sands.

Flagging off at 6.30pm

My 10km race started off on the dot at 6.30pm. Our running route was a scenic city route, taking us from The Float through the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade and the Gardens by the Bay before making a U-turn and then returning back, more or less the same way that we had initially come.

The running route was a scenic one.

The running route was a scenic one.

The 10KM run had been flagged off by Yoshihiro Bando, Operating Officer of Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Japan; Seah Kian Peng, Chief Executive Officer for NTUC FairPrice Co-operative Ltd; and Tng Ah Yiam, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, NTUC FairPrice (Merchandising).

Scenic and cooling race for me

My race went pretty well. Right from the start, I could tell that the weather was cooperating with the runners. It was mildly breezy and windy and at the same time quite cooling – thanks to the earlier rain.

Runners along the route.

Runners along the route.

But other runners may have begged to differ though. Said Danny Martens, 43, a Financial Manager at a bank, “I had thought the earlier rain would have made it easier, but I felt that it had been very humid when I started running.”

For me, the first kilometre of running was pretty okay and I was able to maintain the pace that I had wanted, though occasionally I found myself looking out for pedestrians and cyclists who were also using the Marina Bay Sands waterfront – it had been a busy Saturday evening after all.

Runners are full of energy in the early stages of the race.

Runners are full of energy in the early stages of the race.

Feedback on the Pocari Sweat Singapore Facebook page – from other runners who had started in later waves – seemed to signify that there had been a substantial amount of congestion within the first few kilometres, due to walkers, cyclists and pedestrians blocking the path. In fact, I also heard later from one of my friends that a runner had been knocked down by a cyclist. So I suppose that I could consider myself quite fortunate then.

Just over one kilometre into the race, the route then took us onto a narrow wooden floating platform outside the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall. I think that this area had the tendency to create bottlenecks for the runners in the subsequent waves, due to the small space but personally for me, it was ok because I had been running near the front of the pack. So I was only slowed down for a few seconds.

Marina Bay Sands along the running route.

Marina Bay Sands along the running route.

Passing by the Satay by the Bay food centre and breathing in the delicious aroma of the satays, made it quite tempting to stop and have a dinner break… but I told myself to remove those thoughts from my head and keep on running instead.

Soaking up the sights and sounds of the Singapore city centre

And as I continued running, I allowed myself the opportunity to soak up the sights and sounds of the beautiful city centre. It was indeed amazing, coupled together with the sunset and the daytime gradually becoming night.

A winner crosses the finish line.

A winner crosses the finish line.

Agreed Monique, “The view was amazing. We had an amazing red sunset sky and this really takes your mind off the monotony of the running. This is always a scenic area for a run.”

Along the route, I also slowed down slightly to take the ice-cold Pocari Sweat from the hydration stations, but tried not to stop completely though – so that I would not lose too much time. There were quite a few water stations along the way though; I thought the amount of hydration was just right for me.

Some 5KM runners complete their race.

Some 5KM runners complete their race.

My pacing wasn’t too bad during my run; it was pretty even for the rest of the race, as we ran past the Gardens by the bay and the coastal park connector linking the Marina Barrage to East Coast Park. The U-turn point for 10KM was somewhere along this connector.

The return route for me, was pretty much the same sights and sounds that I had experienced earlier on the way out. I attempted to pick up the pace ever so slightly, knowing that I was on target to make a decent timing.

A winner is presented his finisher's medal by Neo Jie Shi, Pocari Sweat Singapore ambassador and Rio-bound marathoner.

A winner is presented his finisher’s medal by Neo Jie Shi, Pocari Sweat Singapore ambassador and Rio-bound marathoner.

But Danny begged to differ. He said, “I had thought that the route back from Tanjong Rhu would be easier, but it got tougher for me so I almost collapsed.”

At times during my run though, there were pedestrians cutting into the path of the waves of runners. But based on my experiences, there were marshals on hand to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, by hurrying the pedestrians to cross… so that the runners could continue on their way.

Runners pose with their medals.

Runners pose with their medals.

UpSlope in the final kilometre of running 

The final kilometre took us up the bridge linking the Promontory @ Marina bay to the Floating Platform. Fortunately here, the race was almost finishing, so I gave this slope everything that I had left in the tank. Thanks to the cool evening weather, running this upslope was not as bad as I had otherwise expected, and surprisingly, I found that I was able to still maintain a decent pace at this stage.

Runners pose with Mok Ying Ren, Pocari Sweat Singapore ambassador and SEA Games 2013 marathon gold medalist.

Runners pose with Mok Ying Ren (4th from left), Pocari Sweat Singapore ambassador and SEA Games 2013 marathon gold medalist.

But Monique had begged to differ though. She said, “It was a bit tough to have this slope at the end of the race.”

I zoomed down the slope and the finishing line was right in front of me. I ran as fast as I could for the final 200 metres of the race… and completed the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore 2016 in my best 10KM timing so far this year.

Happy group of runners at the end point.

Happy group of runners at the end point.

Lots of photo opportunities and things to see and do after the race

After the race, there was plenty to see and do. These had included numerous photo opportunities, including posing with a giant Pocari Sweat medal and an “anti-gravity” photo booth – to tie in with the space theme of the race. There was also a unique LED water drum performance by Urban Drum Crew too.

Finishing the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

Finishing the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

Of course I also spent time catching up with friends who also had participated in the race. We spent some time chatting and taking photos together and after the race, I had dinner with some of my running kakis. It was a good gathering.

Besides photo taking sessions, Pocari Sweat Singapore runners also had the chance to immerse ourselves in a lunar experiential Space Zone, which featured three aptly themed booths to educate, entertain and challenge the Pocari Sweat runners.

The giant Pocari Sweat medal was one of the many photo opportunities available.

This giant Pocari Sweat medal was one of the many photo opportunities available.

Runners also got to participate in an Astronaut Workout Challenge – which was essentially a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session whereby we were all given insights into the level of fitness required of an astronaut in a zero-gravity environment. This session had been organised in collaboration with the Reactiv Gym.

An AstroScale booth on display at the race also featured a 1:1 scaled model of the IDEA OSG 1 Satellite, the world’s first micro-size satellite for the tracking and mapping of space debris. Yasu Yamasaki, the Head of Brand Management at AstroScale, also shared his insights on the need for sustainability and the role of IDEA OSG 1 in space.

Other runners pose with the medal!

Other runners pose with the medal! [Photo courtesy of Pocari Sweat Singapore]

Thanks to the outer space theme though, I admitted that I had been half-expecting Captain Kirk, Spock and their crew to make an appearance… That is because after all, Pocari Sweat Singapore had been aiming to “boldly go where no man has ever gone before”… in their ambitious bid to have become the first beverage on the Moon!

Pocari Sweat Singapore ambassadors – national marathoners Mok Ying Ren and Neo Jie Shi – also made special appearances at the race, to congratulate the winners of the 5KM and the 10KM categories, and also share more about their dreams and aspirations with runners.

National marathoners and Pocari Sweat ambassadors Mok and Neo commemorate Pocari Sweat's journey to the Moon. [Photo courtesy of Pocari Sweat Singapore]

National marathoners and Pocari Sweat ambassadors Mok and Neo commemorate Pocari Sweat’s journey to the Moon.
[Photo courtesy of Pocari Sweat Singapore]

Mok and Neo also commemorated the completion of Pocari Sweat Singapore’s journey to the Moon by planting a lunar landing flag on stage, together with Wina.

The Winners of the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore 

The water drums was one of the highlights at the run.

The water drums was one of the highlights at the run.

Winning the 10KM Men’s race was Khemraj Raj with a timing of 34 minutes and 20 seconds and in the women’s race, Concetta Arcella came in first, completing her run in 41 minutes and 58 seconds.
Said Concetta, an Australian who recently moved to Singapore with her husband, “I was really impressed with how well organised the race was. Everyone was so supportive – the marshals, the supporters and even the runners who were running alongside me. I am very pleased with today’s event and will definitely take part again next year.”

The 5KM Men’s race saw Kenyan runner Japheth Kurgat winning in 17 minutes and 20 seconds, while in the 5KM women’s race, Belgian runner Vanja Cnops emerged victorious with a time of 20 minutes and 40 seconds.

Neo Jie Shi.

Neo Jie Shi.

Said Japhet, 28, “This is my first Pocari Sweat race and I think that it was a really good one. I am happy with my timing, despite having to get used to the climate and the many sharp turns that tested my stamina during the run.”

Overall Thoughts

Everyone had so much fun at the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

Everyone had so much fun at the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

As a whole, I would say that I had a rather enjoyable time at the Pocari Sweat Run, with so much on offer to see and do at the race site, despite the crowds and bottlenecks at the start. The evening flag off time was great and the weather was perfect.

The medal design was simple and tied in with the theme of the run.

The medal design was simple and tied in with the theme of the run.

The race medal was also a good and solid one and I liked how the Moon theme was incorporated into the design. It was a circular shape, and I thought that it was quite apt and tied in with the shape of the Moon.

I can’t wait for next year’s edition of the Pocari Sweat Run Singapore.

Thank you Pocari Sweat Singapore for the invite.

Click Here for your Pocari Sweat Run Singapore Photo Gallery.

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1 Comment

  • Eugene says:

    Happy group of runners at the end are The High Panters 🙂 – a charity running group. You can connect with them on Facebook/The High Panters

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