Race Review: Runners League Leg 1 – The Beginning

Set on four different dates this year and organised by X-Change Events, the Runners League is a series of four running races taking place in the four regions of Singapore. These areas are the North (Coney Island), East (Gardens by the bay), South (Sentosa) and West (Jurong Bird Park) respectively.

Click here to view the Runners League Leg 1 photos at the Photo Gallery.

For the four runs, participants have the option to choose which one of the four zones they want to represent, for example, depending on the area that they resonate with the most, or else the part of Singapore where they had grown up in. The zone with the fastest cumulative times stand to win attractive prizes.

Runners thought the Runners League idea was excellent

Runners taking part in the Runners League had thought the idea was an excellent one. Said Liam Cotter, 51, an accountant, “If I am to be honest, I am impressed with this idea. It encourages people to talk to each other and get to know others in their own zone. That is what I really like about it.”

Sharing Liam’s sentiments was also Irene Lim, 35, a bank analyst. She said “The concept is a very unique one and it is the first time I have heard of something like it. It really binds everyone together for a common purpose, so it is a great one.”

5km and 10km race categories

Each of the races in the Runners League consists of two categories, the 5km and the 10km distances. The first race in the Runners League, the North Zone, took place this morning on Coney Island. And overall, this race had attracted around 1,000 runners.

I took part as an official 1hour 10minutes pacer for the 10km North Zone race.

Reached the site at 6am

This morning’s 10km race was scheduled to flag off at 7am. I reached the race site around 6am to make preparations to pin on our pacer bibs as well as to tie the balloons before flag off. The pacers also had time to chit chat, wish each other good luck and take photos together before beginning the run.

New Baggage Deposit System

Pre-race, I did not use the baggage deposit system myself, but I saw that the organisers had started an interesting locker system for baggage.

The system works as follows: Runners would store their bags into the lockers and pass the volunteers on-site the key. They would then receive a wrist tag in return with the number of the locker that their bags had been placed into and runners would then use this to claim their bags subsequently.

More lockers could have been made available though, to cater to the number of runners present.

Race flagged off at 7am

We entered the start pen at about 6.45am and headed to the front. The organisers created a bit of banter to spice up the atmosphere a little prior to flag off, before blowing the horn to signal the start of the race.

The 10km run had flagged off on time, at 7am.

The race route had been a straightforward one, taking place at the Punggol WaterWay and Coney Island areas. Here is a map of the route.

Easy 6:55mins-7mins per kilometre pace

Keeping in mind that we were supposed to run at 6:55mins-7mins per kilometre in order to complete the run in 1hour and 10minutes, my three fellow pacers and I constantly checked our GPS watches to ensure that we were on target.

I think that this went pretty well, and if anyone went off too fast, the rest of us would tell the person to dial back on the pace. It was a pretty Easy conversation style pace to me, so I had found the run quite enjoyable.

Scenery was beautiful

I took in the scenery along the way too. This was lovely. I don’t come to Punggol area that often so it was nice to run here for a change.

Added Jon Veel, 51, an engineer in the air conditioning industry, “As I stay in Siglap, this was my first time running here and it was a beautiful environment. It’s nice to come somewhere different and I love the rustic charm of Coney Island.”

The route wasn’t crowded and I did not encounter any bottlenecks. As a result, it had been quite enjoyable to run.

Race Hydration

The first hydration point of the race was about a couple of kilometres into the race. I didn’t stop at this one, as it was still early.

But at the hydration points apart from the end, I noted that there was ice cold water being served, but no isotonic drink though. I think that it would have been good to have had some isotonic drinks in addition to water.

Liam however, was satisfied with the hydration. He said “I thought the hydration was superb even though I generally do not take hydration in a short race like 10km.”

But added Jon, “The water points were either too far apart or too close together.”

Kilometre Signages

We turned into Coney Island at about 3km into the race.

At this point I also saw the first kilometre marker of the race. However, it was inaccurate, reading 4km. This was one of two kilometre markers along the route; the other was the 8km marker but it was placed a kilometre too early on the route.

Added Irene, “Not every kilometre had a marker.”

Lack of guides and marshals

She also pointed out that the faster runners had got lost along the route due to a lack of guides and volunteers to show the way. Said Irene, “I did not see any guides; some runners got lost along the route because of that.

The gate to Coney Island was wide open when I reached it, but I had later heard reports that for the front runners, the gates had not been opened and they had to wait for the gate to open before they were able to continue on with their race.

Coney Island was peaceful and rustic

Running through Coney Island was rustic and peaceful. Though the route here was quite short, from 3km to just before the 6km mark, it was beautiful and had been probably the most enjoyable part of the run, in my opinion.

Along the way, my fellow pacers and I also encouraged the runners to keep on going, when we saw them walking or struggling. Others, upon seeing us approaching, picked up the pace on their own, apparently worried about being overtaken by us.

By this point of the race though, I was feeling rather sticky and wet from the Singapore humidity but was able to maintain the pace until the end without any difficulties. I noticed that my heart rate, at this point of the run, was in the high end of my Easy zone. This was a good sign that my aerobic fitness level is improving.

Added Jon, “It was a very hot and sweaty race today. The race shirt was also too sweaty and clingy and the DRI-fit material did not do its job. It was not user friendly. I was really melting when I was running.”

Thanks to the early enough race start time though, the heat at this point, was not as bad as it could otherwise have been.

Route was 500m short

When I reached the end point a short while later, I had realised that the route was 500 metres short. My fellow pacers agreed too, when we compared the distance.

Added one of the runners, Stephen Hill, 29, an engineer in the oil and gas industry, “I think that the route was about 500 metres shorter than it should be, based on my watch. But I got a personal best out of it, so I am not complaining. Next time round, it would be good to have the distance to be accurate though.”

Jon also shared Stephen’s sentiments. Said Jon, “I do not think that it was 10km. It seemed short; I was running with my own GPS and it said 9.3km. But I am happy with my timing though.”

Collection for finisher items

I collected my finisher items after completion of the race. These included my race medal and a bottle of orange flavoured isotonic drink which was quite delicious and I had gulped down with relish.

As the pacers had not been not officially registered for the race, we did not need to queue up with the runners in order to receive our finisher polo shirts. Instead, these were handed to us by the race organiser.

But I noticed that there were long queues for the collection of these finisher items, with some runners apparently waiting in line for more than 30 minutes in order to collect theirs.

Lots of photo opportunities

At the race village there were plenty of standees for runners to take photos with. These included photo opportunities with signages of each of the four zones that runners were representing as well as some generic Runners League signages.

Of course and I could not pass up the chance to take pictures posing together with some of these signages.

The North Zone signage had been the most popular one, probably because this race was taking place in the Northern part of Singapore.

And added Jon, “It seemed as though anyone could join what zone they want; most people chose the colour of the shirt that they want rather than the area in which they live. There were 75 per cent of red shirts today and that seemed quite uneven.”

There was also merchandise for sale, including water bottles and hydration bags, as well as compression wear, socks and other running related apparel. I did not buy anything but I had noticed some runners making purchases though.

Overall though the race had some shortcomings, runners still managed to have a great morning with their friends.

Said Jon, “The location and logistics was good. I also liked the isotonic drinks at the end.”

Added Stephen, “The organisation overall was pretty good and I had enjoyed the camaraderie and community bonding today.”

Leg 2: The Ties That Bind

Runners League Leg 2: The Ties that Bind, will be taking place at the Gardens by the Bay East on 26 August and registrations are still open, if you are interested to take part in the Runners League to show your zone what you are made up of.

As Leg 2 takes place in the East Zone, runners who are staying in places like Tampines, Bedok, Kembangan and Marine Parade, do come forward.

Registration is currently open at https://www.runnersleague.com.sg.

Click here to view the Runners League Leg 1 photos at the Photo Gallery.

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