Yesterday, the Official Durian Run 2015 took place with runners flagging off at 4.30pm and running around Sembawang Park. Organised by RUNDOJO’s Gerrard Lin (Ah Siao), 32, this relay event dangled a tantalising reward in front of runners. Instead of receiving finisher medals, they got finisher durians together with plenty of other delicious food items.
Wanted to create something different and unique
What gave him and his team the idea to create such an interesting and unique running race? Said Ah Siao, “It was a year ago. We at RUNDOJO wanted to something different that runners would enjoy. A durian as a finisher reward is actually more expensive than a medal – five times, to be exact. But it was something so ridiculous that my team RUNDOJO jumped onto the bandwagon and went ahead with the race.”
To participate in this relay, runners had to form teams of four and complete a cumulative distance of 19.2km around Sembawang Park. Each runner would do a 1.2km loop and pass the baton to the next runner, until the total distance had been reached.
Altogether, the event attracted 50 teams of four runners each, according to Ah Siao, and the eventual winners of the inaugural Durian Run were a group from the F1 Runners Team.
Runners enjoyed themselves thoroughly
Runners enjoyed themselves thoroughly at the event. Said civil servant, Alan Chiang, 30, “We were actually looking forward to enjoying some durians when we signed up for this race. The idea of replacing finisher medals with durians, the king of fruits was fitting. Though the calorie intake versus our output wasn’t quite ideal, it gave us the opportunity to bond and feast over our achievements – both personal and team. The ice cream topped off a great evening for a team running event in a park.”
Added Chiang, “The race itself was a great relay event, for runners at all levels, as each runner only needed to complete four sets of 1.2km. Most importantly, the waiting/resting time was not too long, but it was sufficient for runners to catch their breath before heading out on the next 1.2km set.”
The run was shiok
Fellow participant Mark Gan, 34, also thought likewise. Said the sales executive, “The run was shiok. There are a few slopes – that was unexpected. But it was a safe run and we enjoyed ourselves. After all, this race was a team effort and brought my team members even closer. The durian and ice cream after the run felt like a bonus.”
Liz Koh, 45, also thought the atmosphere was really great in terms of bonding and having fun. Said the Human Resources Executive, “I was just there to support my Runninghour team mates – as I could not run due to a recent operation. I had registered for the race though.” Her running club, Runninghour, is a socially inclusive club that runs together with visually, intellectually and physically challenged participants.
Koh added, “It was fun as it was something different – a small, informal and cosy gathering. Having old-school ice cream with wafter was quite cool especially after a hot run. Not to mention, the durians were really yummy. Sitting around after the race and enjoying durian with friends is really enjoyable!”
Like an informal gathering with friends
For Tan Caibao, the event was very much like a gathering with friends, rather than a running event. Said the 30-year-old software engineer, “The event was awesome. It was more like a friends gathering, with us all running together and having plenty of team-building taking place.”
Added Tan, “The durians – from Ghim Seng Durians in Ghim Moh – also tasted excellent and were of a good quality. Each team was entitled to six durians – and there was also a buffet with lots of other food like hash browns, sandwiches and ice cream.”
So Tan really enjoyed himself at the event.
The route could perhaps have been improved a little
Marine Engineer Adrian Lee, 44, felt that there could have been a little improvement. He said, “The run was very well organised. But I was a little worried about the two sharp turns – one was at a corner going downslope, and the other was when we were approaching the finish line. I was also worried that my team members would kick over the tree roots and trip as it was a downslope.”
Lee added, “But other than that, I think that everything was fine. The ice cream, food buffet, goodie bag and lucky draw were a bonus. Overall, myself and my running mates at the Northern Kia Runners very much enjoyed this run.”
Ah Siao is pleased with the run
For organiser Ah Siao, he is pleased with the way that the run had turned out as a whole. He said, “It was a reasonably priced run and done with the runners at heart. I might be biased, but I think most of the people who joined, made new friends. It was difficult to organise, as we are fairly new at this. But we loved the challenge and we learnt so much. Durians, buffet, ice cream and finisher bottles are practical things that we runners would really enjoy – so we wanted to do it for other runners.”
Continued Ah Siao, “Remember the last time when you ran a relay and you were sporting a wide grin, regardless of the pace – because you were having so much fun? We wanted to recreate this fun. People said they enjoyed the run. But I am not too sure why. I think an event is only as good as the volunteers. We were so lucky to have them. They executed everything so well. If we had the budget, the welfare of the volunteers would have been a primary goal, and to provide them with the joy of helping other runners achieve their objectives.”
Ah Siao admitted that that there could have been an increase in the number of barricades and banners, as well as having more tents. He added, “But that comes with scale. Next year though, we might just make it perfect and still not lose the personal touch. Whatever it is, we would do it from the heart. And hope that we can stay happy for as long as we can, too.”
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