The Runners League is a series of four 5km and 10km races that takes place in four different locations on four different dates around Singapore.
Four zones to develop a friendly sense of rivalry amongst runners
The zones that the races are being held in, are the North, East, South and West zones and runners get to choose which zone they would like to represent. This could probably be the zone they grew up in, the zone they now live, or else perhaps the zone where that they met their other half.
The aim of having the four zones is to develop a friendly sense of rivalry and an active alliance between runners of the various zones.
Second race took place last Saturday
The second race in the Runners League, representing the East Zone, took place last Saturday morning at the Gardens by the Bay East and attracted about 350 runners.
Participated as a pacer
I took part in the 10km race as a 1hour 10minute pacer.
The 10km event had flagged off at 7am in the morning. The pacers were required to be there at about 6am to receive our pacer singlets and tie our balloons before making our way to the starting pen.
Had a lift to the race site
I was kindly given a lift to the race site from another one of the pacers. We reached the site at about 5.30am. So there was quite a bit of time to spare before my run.
However upon wearing my pacer singlet, I found that the XS unisex cutting was still a bit big for me and seemed to hang off my body. I then decided to get some safety pins – so I could at least look decent in my race photographs.
It wasn’t just a problem with the pacer singlets though. Some of the participating runners also had issues with the cutting of the singlets.
Said Jerry Tan, 41, a civil servant, “The cutting of the singlets was different to that of the first leg. Some were quite small but others were big so there is some inconsistency there. As well, the organisers could have female and male cutting instead of just unisex cut because unisex sizes do not really fit girls and so they may feel uncomfortable wearing the race singlet. Sometimes people do not wear the race top because it does not fit them or the cutting really cannot make it.”
This may be quite true; I had spotted some people in their own running tops and quite a few runners were also wearing the singlet from the first leg race at Coney Island, which might have fitted them better than the second leg singlet.
After spending time to take some photos around the race site, the pacers made their way into the front of the start pen at about 6.50am. The organiser acted as the emcee, trying to creating a bit of hype before we started running.
For my group of pacers, we were targeting a 1hour 10minutes finish, our pace was a relaxing 7mins/km. This is an easy pace for me to maintain as it is not too fast, and at the same time, not too slow either.
The route was also a rather straightforward affair, taking us in the direction of the Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage and the Marina Bay Sands before taking a u-turn and heading back to where we had come from. It is a route that I am familiar with as I run in the area quite often.
Added Jason Tan Wen Long, 24, customer service officer at a local telco, “I am familiar with this route because I run here almost every day. Because I live opposite, it is part of my 13km training run. So this was a familiar and comfortable race for me.”
I thought that it had been a scenic route, and it is one that I always really enjoy running, with beautiful sights to see along the way, such as the Singapore Flyer and the intriguing SuperTrees of the Gardens by the Bay.
It was also easy to run and quite flat, as we did not have to run up the Marina Barrage.
Said Inez Alsagoff, 18, an Environmental Science student at the National University of Singapore, “It was an easy route that was nice and flat. I like running on flat ground.”
The paths were wide enough to prevent any bottlenecks too so it made for quite smooth running throughout the race. As well, it also helped that the crowd was relatively small.
Said Jason, “There were no bottlenecks.”
Sufficient water points
There were sufficient water points along the route for a 10km race in my opinion, serving both water and isotonic drinks. I took some isotonic at the first water station to give me energy to last the distance and this was nice and cold, which I appreciated.
Said Inez, “The hydration was good and there was nothing to complain about.”
Added Jason “I did not take any hydration, but I could see that there was enough for all the runners, so that was pretty good.”
However, Jerry begged to differ. He said, “The water points could have been more.”
He also felt there should have been trash bins to throw the paper cups in. He said, “There could be disposable bins after the water for the paper cups too. The poor volunteers had to keep picking up cups off the ground because people were throwing them all over the floor.”
Motivating the runners and clapping for them
As we ran, my fellow pacers and I tried to motivate the runners by cheering them on and encouraging those who were walking – I thought that this helped, as some of them had seemed to pick up the pace slightly for a while.
We also saw several other groups of pacers training for their respective races, such as for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and the CSC Run by the Bay. So we clapped and they clapped back and encouraged us on, in return.
I also spotted Ron Siow and Ng Chee Beng, who were in the middle of doing their long run to train for the Berlin Marathon next month.
Marshals were good
Jason, who had been the eventual winner of the race, had also pointed out that the marshals had been good and efficient. He said, “The marshals led us (the race leaders) the right way and there were no mistakes.”
Few kilometre markings
However I did notice that there were very few kilometre markers and the ones that were present, may have been positioned wrongly. I could only see two along the route – these had been the 3km and the 8km markers and based on my Garmin, I had noticed that they were at least half a kilometre off the mark.
Said Inez, “With the lack of kilometre markers, it was hard for me to pace myself.”
Added Jerry, “There were no distance markers for us to judge the distance.”
Distance was short
The route was also too short. When my fellow pacers and I had reached the finish line, it was only about 9.4km, rather than 10km.
According to Runners League though, the short distance was because they had been asked to make a last minute change to their race route by the officials from the Gardens By the Bay.
The organisers also added that they themselves had run the original route prior to race day, and so they had made sure that it had not been short.
It must also be noted that the distance of the first leg 10km race at Coney Island had also been about 700 metres short; but hopefully the distance will not be short for the final two legs of the upcoming Runners League races though.
Post Race Carnival was simple
The post race carnival had been a rather simple and fuss free affair.
After completion, I picked up my finisher medal and a can of Lucozade before taking fun group photos with the other pacers at the standees representing the various zones. Also, I caught up with a few of my other friends at the race.
As well I had noticed a CompressSport booth set up at the carnival though, for runners to make purchases such as running calf sleeves, hydration packs and running waist pouches. I didn’t really need anything at this point, so there was no need for me to make a purchase.
A few improvements
Some runners, had a few improvements for the race organisers.
Said Jason, “Personally I had thought that everything was okay and the organisation was good, but there could have been more cheering support to motivate people to run. I thought it was a very quiet run.”
And while Jerry would like to see some new running routes, he admitted that there are only so many running routes in Singapore, which is a small city, after all. He said “They are limited with running routes; there are only so many places to run in Singapore.”
Nevertheless, Jerry hopes that more race organisers could take into account, the feedback given to them by the participating runners – in order to improve the event further.