This is about 6 weeks past the event but I feel that’s in keeping with the general feel and organisation of this event and I’d like to share some things I noticed about this event. My result in itself isn’t worth writing about – 5th in 72.53 behind 4 Kenyans. It was won in 68.30ish. I felt ok and half marathons really are hard in this climate. I went with the Kenyans, dropped off, and picked up a couple later on – with a gap to the locals behind me including my training partner Melvin Wong who was first Singaporean (or “race winner” as Singapore call it).
- The elite starting pen
So the 50 or so elites nearly missed the start. We started on a bridge which makes getting to the front quite tough. However the race organisers had arranged for the elites to gather on the pavement and then cross a hand-built staircase to get over the race barriers to the start. Not a bad idea all in all. But when we heard the “ONE minute to go folks!” call and we’re all still on the side we got agitated. The Kenyan athletes started trying to climb fences and things got edgy. They had forgotten to finish the staircase to get us to the front. Luckily someone drew their attention to this and they delayed the start to get us on the startline.
2. Have we started yet?
There were a few schoolkids lined up in front of us to stop us edging forwards before the gun went. But as they counted down these kids sprinted off in front of us. Was that the start? What’s going on? With no expectations set as to how we started we sort of half started and then a couple of seconds later the gun went. More confusion. I have no idea why these kids didn’t just move to the sides….
3. Water stations
The race started at 4.30 am. It was dark. And it’s Singapore so it’s really hot. I wanted to get water to pour on me and grab a drink whenever I could. There were plenty of water and sports drink stops which is great. However they didn’t really label which was which so many times I poured sticky sports drink over me. And of course the drinks are in paper cups so the chance of getting any in your mouth if you want to drink are tiny….. I ended up very sticky……
4. MEN WITH GUNS – WTF??
I get it’s the army half marathon, and the army memorabilia like tanks and soldiers is completely fine. But men pointing rifles at you while you are running is just WEIRD and freaky. They may have been pretend rifles – again it was dark so you can’t see a huge amount – but even so – why would you do that?? I thought it was a terrorist attack the first time.
5. I’m finished – water please
So I finished the race – pissed off with myself for cruising the past few km thinking I had no hope of catching the 4th Kenyan – only to turn the final bend and see him jogging in and I ended up 2 seconds behind him. Oh well. Now I am HOT (and annoyed) and just want water to pour on myself. But that’s fine, EVERY race finish has water right? Wrong. I asked all the marshals at the end where water was. Blank looks. There is none. Eventually I found a sports drink station (they hadn’t set up yet though) and they gave me something to drink. It turns out there was a water tent later on – they just hadn’t bothered to set anything up for about 20minutes after the leaders came through.
6. The prizes
I won $200. That’s nice. I guessed there was some decent prize money on offer as the Kenyans wouldn’t have turned up otherwise. There was NOTHING on the website beforehand about the prize structure or even that there was any prizes at all. The first Singaporean prize was $3,000, handy. I left the race to get water, and then got a Whatsapp message from Melvin that I was due a prize but he couldn’t collect for me. One week later I got an email telling me to bring my bib number and ID card to a centre on a certain week to collect. I said I threw away my wet useless bib number. No prize for you they said. What the actual fuck I said. I KNOW what my bib number is, and I have an ID card. Why do you need it? Eventually they told me management had said it was ok to get my prize, on this occasion. Thank you I said.
To be fair, the race itself was pretty good – some bands and entertainment on the course and well marked out and everything. I just found these details quite funny….
Can’t believe you’ve been so critical of the wonderful people’s army of a semi dictatorial state. Oh well, I’m sure you’ll be very popular in jail! Seriously it’s amazing how many races would benefit from having a former at least “almost elite” athlete to co-ordinate their elite field.