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Singapore Bay Run/Army Half Marathon 2013 - Screw Up of a Race!

Posted Sep 01 2013 12:00am
The Army Half Marathon was the first race that I took part in back in 2004. So I always have fond memories of it. Over the years, I signed up for it 7 times, ran 5 of it and did not start 2 due to injuries. The last was in 2010. Since then I have stopped doing it, disappointed by the sheer size of it and the consequential poor race experience.

This year, however, seduced by the super low registration fee of $12.00 for NS man and the promise of 3 event apparel comprising a race singlet, an event tee and a finisher tee, I signed up for it. I also thought that this could be a perfect way to test my race fitness for the upcoming biggie. Big mistake!

First was - there was no event tee. Okay maybe I did not read the fine print that it was either a singlet or tee. That I could accept. But the race day itself.... it was a huge huge disappointment.
The flag off time was 5.15am. I never understand why they need to start a short 21km race so early. So I had to get up at 3.30 am to make it there. As it turned out, due to the heavy traffic from Orchard Rd to Bras Basah, we reached at 5am. By the time we walked to the start bay, the race had been flagged off. But even then there was still a big crowd at the bay. We took 10 minutes to reach the start off before we could start jogging.
First foul up. With 30000+ half marathoners, why didn't they start the race in waves? Even smaller races like the 2XU and the Run350 starts their races in several waves to ease the congestion. I estimated we were somewhere in the last quarter of the pack. Fortunately, Robinson Road was wide enough and I could run at a steady pace but overtaking was really impossible and rather pointless. There were 3 mini bottlenecks at Maxwell Rd/Shenton Way junction; Shenton Way/Marina Boulevard junction and Marina Boulevard/Marina Bay waterfront. At all these junctions, runners on the vehicular roads which were 4 lanes wide were forced into a 2 metre wide lane. Bottlenecks built up but thankfully these were short stretches and while we had to walk through, it was still passable.
From the Marina Bay waterfront onward to Garden by the Bay East, was the second foul up. The place was in semi darkness with minimal light from the buildings and park light. There were also many structures outside Marina Bay Sands Shoppes. With the poor lighting, while I did not see anybody fell, there were subsequent posting of runners who tripped especially at the staircase leading to the Helix Bridge. Again it makes me wonder. Did anybody from SAFRA or the event organiser note these type of details? Why didn't they put up portable lights along the way instead of throwing a few light stick on the ground? This was not touted to be a night race and runner safety should always be a priority but somehow some people seem to think that runners have night vision goggles and can see through all that darkness.
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