Asia’s largest women-only running event – the Great Eastern Women’s Run – took place this morning, with close to 15,000 women of all ages kickstarting their Sunday with a race through some of Singapore’s key landmarks.
Now into its 11th edition this year, the race comprised of three main categories for adults – a 5km fun run, 10km competitive run and a 21.1km half marathon, as well as a Princess dash targeted at encouraging children to start exercising from an early age.
Took part in the 21.1km category
I took part in the 21.1km category – which had flagged off at the Singapore Flyer at the wee hour of 5.15am.
The race village was already bustling with 21.1km runners when I got to the Singapore Flyer at roughly about 4.30pm. I made my way towards the race pen and waited for the race flag-off.
Said runner Courtney Burnett, 38, a project manager at a technology company, “I thought it was a really good turn-out and it was inspiring to see so many women up so early in the morning. The spirit of sisterhood felt great.”
Added fellow runner Rossatsa Avramova, 45,a fitness instructor, “I love this run as it brings out the power of women.”
Pacers added liveliness and excitement to the atmosphere with their “costumes”
As I had waited to start the race, I noticed that the pacers, who were from Running Department, had added some liveliness and excitement to the race atmosphere. For example, the 2:00-hour pacers were wearing Pikachu ears and each pacer was also carrying an inflatable PokeBall balloon. And the 2:15-hour pacers on the other hand, were wearing fairy wings.
The 21.1km elite open and closed categories had been flagged off first, at 5.15am sharp, and then after that, the rest of us were flagged off roughly about five minutes later.
Scenic city race route
The race route took us from the Singapore Flyer and through landmarks such as the F1 Pit Building, Singapore SportsHub, Marina Bay Golf Course, and the Gardens by the Bay. It was indeed a scenic and beautiful route.
The race started off quite well. I reminded myself not to start out too fast, maintaining my heart rate in the steady state zone.
Weather was good
The weather had been quite good throughout the run, and the early hour start had ensured that the run was thankfully not too hot.
Said Nathalie Legree, 32, a French teacher, “The weather was great, the starting time was nice and I loved the atmosphere.”
The hydration along the way was great; there were lots of points and they served us ice-cold water and isotonic drink that had felt really refreshing.
Agreed Burnett, “The water stations always had water and it was cold too.”
At times though, I had to dodge the crowds of runners at the hydration stations to get myself a cup; a couple of additional tables of hydration may have helped.
After the halfway mark I attempted to pick up the pace slightly, focusing on my running and maintaining my heart rate zones.
I also noticed there had been a couple of narrow paths along the 21.1km route; one was around the Fort Road heavy carpark area and the other had been near the Singapore Sports Hub, but fortunately, I didn’t experience any bottlenecks along the way though.
Added Fatima-Zahra Zahzouhi, 48, a housewife, “We had plenty of space to run; there were small parts that were narrow but luckily there had not been too many runners to create problems.”
Pushing the pace
I pushed the pace a bit more in the final few kilometres. We were running past the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands area before heading past the Marina Bay City Gallery and the Esplanade area.
It also helped that towards the end of the race, there were “cheerleaders” and photographers to add some mood and atmosphere to the race. Many of them were male runners who had turned up to support and encourage their female counterparts.
Running up the Jubilee Bridge in the last 1.5 kilometres was a bit challenging… but I told myself that the race was ending soon. And seeing the green pacer balloons within touching distance of me, I decided to give chase… and overtook them with about a kilometre to go.
Crossing the finish line
As such, it had felt good to finally cross the finishing line at The Float @ Marina Bay.
And like previous editions of the Great Eastern Women’s Run, there was lots to eat and do at the race village. These had included the iconic Live Great powder room for runners to touch themselves up after the run, as well as plenty of selfie and photo booths – for the women to create memories of the race with their friends and family members.
There was also lots of food ranging from ice cream to muffins, milk and fruit juice, for runners to replenish their energy. My favourite was the delicious, cool ice cream.
Organisers were pleased with the race
Great Eastern were happy with how the 2016 edition of the iconic women’s race had turned out.
Said Keith Chia, the Head of Group Brand and Customer Experience, Group Marketing, Great Eastern, “We were pleased with the run. The weather helped a lot by being kind to us, but the women had been so enthusiastic about the race and embraced it with plenty of fun; it brings joy to us to see them enjoying themselves so much.”
More than $65,000 donations to the two supported charities
He added, “As a LIFE company, Great Eastern champions healthy living and empowers women to live healthier and better through sports. This year we are also extremely pleased that through the collective effort of race participants and the larger community, more than $65,000 will go towards the two worthy women-related causes.”
The donations, which had been raised for the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Women’s Health Research & Education Fund, were collected through online donations from participants, as well as the ‘Don a Tutu for a Cause’ initiative – whereby runners had been encouraged to make a minimum donation of $5 in exchange for a tutu.
Added Chia, “The tutus had helped to liven up the mood of the race and make it feel more like a fun event than a serious race. Though we do have professional runners taking part, we feel that this is largely a community event for the ladies in Singapore.”
As well, Great Eastern Women’s Run also collaborated with KLARRA, a local fashion label, to produce an exclusive scarf designed by fashion icon and founder Beatrice Tan. And the proceeds from the sale of the scarf were also contributed to the two charities.
Some of the runners however, had felt that there could have been minor improvements to the overall race experience.
Said Legree, “Everything was done really well and it was a great race, but there were some turns I got lost because there was nobody to show us the route; for those who are in the front pack and you are running on your own, a guide will help you to know where you are going.”
Added Zahzouhi, “I thought that a few of the volunteers who were cheering us on seemed a bit shy and not as lively as I had hoped; maybe it was because it had been too early for them. But other than that it had been very well organised and I had loved the event.”