RunningHour 2017: Run So Others Can is an annual running event that aims to use mainstream sports as a platform to promote integration and nurture an inclusive Singapore for people with special needs. This is the only running race whereby sighted participants run alongside large numbers of runners with special needs.
Third edition took place at Bedok Reservoir Park yesterday
The third edition of the event, which took place yesterday at Bedok Reservoir Park and was organised by RunningHour Cooperative, saw more than 2,000 runners taking part. Members of the public ran alongside 470 visually, physically and intellectually challenged runners – a growing number since RunningHour’s first event back in 2015.
RunningHour 2017: Run So Others Can, was also graced by Guest of Honour and Minster of Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.
5km and 10km Blindfold Run categories
In line with the message of the race, RunningHour 2017: Run So Others Can, had consisted of a 3.5km, 5km and a 10km Blindfold Run to give sighted runners a better understanding of the challenges that the visually impaired runners face when they run.
In the Blindfold Run, runners take part in pairs, with one running with a blindfold to simulate visual impairment and the other acting as a guide using a tether band.
Eye opening experience for sighted runners taking part
And for many of the runners taking part in the Blindfold Run categories, it was an eye-opener. Said Vincent Devadason, 49, a Teacher at United World College who took part with his wife, “Running blindfolded was interesting. All your senses become amplified and you can hear people talking, and you can even hear footsteps.”
He added, “It definitely gives me a deeper understanding and awareness of the challenges that visually impaired runners face in Singapore and I think it is great to have an organisation to start things like this for them.”
His views were echoed by Donna O’Shea, a 38 year old Pilates instructor who said, “Running blindfolded was a lot harder than I thought. At the beginning I felt very tense and I realised how much I was relying on the person with me. It felt weird to not have anything to hold on to. I also found that I had become very aware of the noise around me. It was a good experience and it has made me very grateful for my sight and very glad that I did this challenge.”
She added, “It was very hard to run at the beginning when I had the blindfold on. I was walking and not really running. But I had a good guide who was excellent in telling me what was around me and how much space I had in front. That helped to calm me down.”
Guiding a runner makes you more aware of the surroundings
Donna and her partner had taken turns to guide each other during the run. Said Donna on being a guide, “We took turns guiding and being blindfolded. It was interesting to guide someone. It makes you a lot more aware of the surroundings and telling people for example, that you will be running on gravel or that the ground would go up. These are all things that we take for granted and when you run, you think about your pace and they come naturally. But today it was something else; I did not think about pace at all. I was too focused on giving clear instructions and making sure what was surrounding me.”
Donna feels that her participating in the event has definitely made her more aware of the challenges faced by the visually impaired runners too. She said, “I realised how impressive it is that people who are visually impaired run and take part in races. There are so many people around and you are trying to do something that is so much more challenging. I am in awe of how they are able to conquer the challenges that they face.”
Donna’s sentiments were shared by Thomas Anderegg, 46, who is self employed and in the finance industry. Said Thomas, “When you are running blindfolded you really need to trust the person guiding you. I mean, to literally, blindly trust them. This definitely has made me more aware of how the visually impaired people run. I see them occasionally when I am running and this experience has made me a lot more respectful of what they do.”
Thomas added, “I find it unbelievable that some of them run marathons and I have even seen them at MacRitchie Reservoir where the ground is uneven. I am impressed by them and how they are able to set aside these challenges to actually do what they want to achieve.”
Visually impaired runners hope that the event helps to spread more awareness and understanding of the special needs community in Singapore
Similar to previous years, RunningHour extended complimentary slots to all special needs participants in an effort to encourage them to join in the fun.
Wayne Chee, 47, a 65 per cent cent visually impaired runner, had taken part in the 5km category, and is glad that events such as the signature blindfold run at RunningHour 2017: Run So Others Can are being organised, as he feels that it helps to spread more awareness and understanding about visually impaired and special needs people in Singapore.
Said Wayne, a telemarketer in financial planning, “I hope that this event can help to increase the public’s understanding of people like us and what we are facing right now.”
He added, “To all the special needs people out there, I also hope that anyone can run, as long as you are physically fit, regardless of whether you are visually handicapped or whatever handicap you have. As long as you are capable of running and exercising, then you should do it and transform your lives.”
RunningHour is pleased with the event’s reception
RunningHour is pleased with how their 2017 running event had gone. Said John See Toh, Co-Founder and Chairman of RunningHour, “Year on year, we see more youth joining RunningHour’s training sessions and events. Not only are they keen to learn more about those with special needs; they are taking action to help their special needs friends integrate into the mainstream community. It is very heartening to see actions from our youth and we hope to see more groups of people step forward to make Singapore into a more inclusive society.”
He added, “Just by being present at today’s event, we have given the special participants more courage to believe that they too, can pursue an active lifestyle. More importantly, we are letting them know that we want them to be a part of our diverse community and vice versa.”