South East Asia’s first Pokemon themed fun run took place yesterday morning.
Bonded by their love for Pokemon, more than 6,000 participants took part, and they were between the ages of four to 76 years old. These had included families, couples and friends who took on the role of “Pokemon Trainers” to get healthy and active in a fun way – by embarking on a fun 5km Pokemon themed adventure around Singapore’s picturesque Marina Bay area. I had been one of the event participants.
Race village at Promontory @ Marina Bay
The run – which had been jointly organised by Avex Asia and Infinitus Productions – had started at 9am in the morning. I reached the race village at The Promontory @ Marina Bay at about 8am. Prior to the race start, Pikachu – one of the world’s best loved Pokemons, had led a warm up session in order to prepare the runners for a safe race.
After a quick look around the race village to take in the sights and sounds and see what was available in terms of photo opportunities, I was in the starting pen as soon as it had opened up about 8.30am.
Unfortunately, I had later found out that a Lapras had spawned at about 9am at Marina Bay in the Pokemon Go mobile game… and I had missed it because I hadn’t known till it was too late!
Flagged off at 9am sharp
We were flagged off by Pikachu at 9am sharp, with the Junior Trainers aged between four and 12 years old kicking off the run.
They had the chance to run alongside one of the most influential personalities in the Pokemon world – Junichi Masuda, the founding member of Game Freak and the composer and director of the Pokemon games. He was making his debut appearance in Singapore as the guest of honour for the run.
Collecting our PokeballsI was in the second wave, just behind the Kids Wave, so I started running about five minutes later. And a few hundred metres into our run, we began our journey to be a Pokemon Master by collecting a Pokeball. Unfortunately the Pokeballs had been given out randomly to us… and so we couldn’t actually “choose” our starter Pokemon, though!
Pokemon photo opportunities
Along the route, there had been three Pokemon photo points for us to take selfies with the various Pokemon that we met on the way. These had been pictures accompanied with descriptions of Munchlax, Pikachu and Togedemaru on boards, and I couldn’t resist the photo opportunities; so I stopped and posed for quick photos along the route.
Crystal Lowe, 33, an acting pit manager at a casino, didn’t stop to take pictures, though. She said, “I saw a few of those boards with the Pokemons, but didn’t stop because there were very long queues.”
While Crystal admitted that she herself was not really a big Pokemon fan, she had taken part in the run because of her friend Randall Yong, 38, a self-confessed Pokemon fan who loves the giant, cuddly Snorlax.
I could not help thinking that would have been nicer, though, to have actual Pokemon themed cosplayers waiting at each of the photo points en route… for us to to take pictures with. That would have helped to spice up the mood and add to the Pokemon event theme!
Not much Pokemon along the route
In terms of Pokemon Go, though, there were not much Pokemon to catch along the route. Besides the Lapras that I had missed before the start of the race, there was also a Rapidash… but I had also missed out on adding him to my collection, no thanks to the high CP. I did hatch one egg during the run… but unfortunately ended up with a Geodude from it – which I don’t need!
Added Matthew Secomb, 43, a commercial lawyer who was there with his six year old son, Sam, “We had been hoping to catch some Pokemon here but we didn’t get any. We had the Pokemon Go app on the whole time though. I thought that they could have released some.”
Hot weather and hydration
There had been only one water point en route at about the halfway point. Usually this is okay for a 5km run, but due to the late 9am start time and the hot weather, it would have helped to have more hydration. I myself had been feeling pretty parched as I was running.
Agreed Crystal, “There was only one water point; this was not really enough as the weather was very hot.”
The hot weather did get pretty torturous as the run wore on, but I took it easy, going at a slow pace and not pushing myself hard.
Fortunately though, I didn’t really face much congestion throughout the run – because I had begun the run in an earlier wave. The only crowds that I had, was at the Jubilee Bridge area, where throngs of early morning tourists were taking pictures at the Fullerton Merlion. But fortunately at these moments, there had been race marshals deployed en route, and they had done a pretty good job in guiding us in terms of where to run.
Added Crystal “The route was ok, it was quite clear and they had marshals shouting out so that we knew where to go. But I found some parts were quite narrow and we couldn’t really run much. So we ended up walking.”
Distance was a bit short
I must point out that for a 5km run, the route distance had been a bit on the short side though. When I got to the finish line, which was back at The Promontory @ Marina Bay, my Garmin measured 3.6km. My friend’s Garmin had also ended up a tad short, giving a reading of 3.8km.
I admit that I did feel a little shortchanged at that point. But picking up my cute Pikachu medal at the finishing line had helped to take my mind off this, to some extent.
But despite the shorter distance and the hot weather, the Pokemon Run still had been a lot of fun. After the run was over, I had a field time taking photos of myself at the race village, as well as together with the Pokemon characters on-site.
There was a Pokemon Garden where I could interact with life sized Pokemon cut outs including the starter Pokemon from the newly released Pokemon Sun & Moon – the latest Pokemon role playing video game adventure developed by Game Freak. This was quite interesting, and had provided a great backdrop for photo taking.
As well, there was a photo booth where we could pose with plush versions of popular Pokemon such as Pikachu, Litten and Rowlet. Unfortunately there was no life sized plush Snorlax… which I would have liked! The queue for the photo booth had been very long, but fortunately it had moved faster than I had expected.
A few cosplayers also took part in the run. At the starting line, I came across an adorable parent and child team who were wearing identical furry Charmander costumes. They had looked really cute, but I wondered how they would have been able to run under the heat, in their costume.
Besides Charmander, I also caught a glimpse of a Pikachu cosplayer in a full yellow furry body suit. It was cute, but the costume too, had looked rather heat-inducing. Then there was Misty and Brock – protagonist Ash’s two sidekicks in the Pokemon Indigo League anime series.
Said Joel How, 26, a Chemistry student at Nanyang Technological University who was cosplaying the redhead Misty, “It was memorable to dress up as the characters and fun, in terms of the preparation that we took to look like this, and then to turn up for the run and to have everyone want to take photos with us. It’s nice that people recognise the characters. People were all so friendly and the atmosphere is great here.”
His brother Jessen, 20, had cosplayed as Brock. Dubbed as the biggest Pokemon fan in the family, Jessen had supported the franchise since he had been five years old.
Post Run Village
Games, activities and Japanese gourmet delights were also available at the race village as well. These had also included Pokemon merchandise such as Pikachu ears and tails, as well as plush Pikachus and Pokemon themed beverages – such as the Alola Exeggcutor packaged iced tea from the Pokemon Cafe pop up booth.
As part of the post run entertainment, a couple of plush Pikachus were also being given away as contest prizes on stage… but I was quite disappointed that even though I had raised my hand, I was not picked to answer the questions and stand a chance to win them!
And not forgetting the actual Pikachu Parade, which had taken place at 11am. There were at least 10 Pikachu cosplayers there and I thought that they were all so cute looking… when they had been modelling and dancing for the cameras.
I did wonder, though, how the people wearing those Pikachu costumes were able to tahan the heat… it must have been so hot, wearing that full body Pikachu costume.
Talking about Pikachu, it was also quite funny when the emcee warned participants that even though it was “tempting”, the Pikachus were friendly and so we should not throw our Pokeballs at them! The comments were greeted with lots of laughter.
Runners had a good time
Overall, many runners had loved the event and they had a great time at South East Asia’s inaugural Pokemon Run.
Said Matthew, “It was an awesome and fantastic run and so much fun. I think the whole spirit of it, everyone coming together and enjoying themselves with their shared love for Pokemon. It was also fun to come with my son, Sam… he is obsessed with Pokemon!”
And quipped Sam, “I love the Pikachu medals. My favourite Pokemon is Pikachu!”
Chan Chee Meng, 43, had also shared Matthew’s sentiments. Said Chee Meng, who had taken part with his eight year old son, “We decided to join the run as my son is an ardent Pokemon fan. The weather was warm but we enjoyed the scenic route and the photo points along the way. It was a fun morning with my family and we look forward to participating in the run again.”
Earlier starting time
The biggest improvement that I felt could be made to the Pokemon Run, is that the run could have started earlier. If it is organised again, a start time of 7.30am or 8am would have made it much less hot.
Agreed Matthew, “The run was very well organise and went smoothly. They could have started the run at 8am though; that would have been better.”
Organisers are pleased with the event
The organisers are pleased with how the inaugural Pokemon Run Singapore went though.
Said Fujita Kazumi, General Manager of Avex Asia, “We are delighted by the strong turnout for the inaugural Pokemon Run Singapore. Pokemon has been a phenomenon worldwide and part of it is due to values that transcend boundaries and cultures – from the importance of friendship, the love for discovery and the respect for nature. As participants enjoy the run today, we hope that this would be a great start as well to step outdoors, make new friends and enjoy a healthier lifestyle as we step into a fresh, new year.”Added Infinitus Productions’ Jeffrey Foo, “We are happy with today’s turnout and positive feedback received for South East Asia’s first Pokemon Run. We are extremely grateful to all the participants who came down this morning and hope that all enjoyed their journey as a Pokemon Trainer. It was heartening to see all the happy faces as participants bonded over games and gourmet delights.”