It’s become the brunt of too many jokes: Race pack collection day, Singapore style. If you can get to the venue where entitlements are handed out before the big day, you could avoid this complicated tango. Show up on race day with a minimal expectation of civility and efficiency and you could be disappointed.
Is every race pack collection experience a nightmare? Of course not. But big events bring big crowds and for reasons nobody has figured out, everyone seems to show up at the same time. This phenomenon would make great material for a Jacky Ng or Rishi Budhrani stand-up comedy routine, but nobody laughs when too many cranky people queue for their entitlements on race day under the hot Singapore sun.
Exasperated? Don’t be. Organisers are as eager as you are to find ways to solve this perpetual dilemma. Maybe more so. After all, they’re on the receiving end of angry Tweets, nasty e-mails and in-person verbal tongue lashings. Instead of railing against the system, how about supporting organiser attempts to speed things up while you take a chill pill and find ways to survive future experiences with your sense of humour intact?
What’s behind complaints?
Channel NewsAsia wasn’t the only media outlet publishing scathing race pack collection reviews of the 2017 OSIM Sundown Marathon. Calling this Asia’s biggest night run, was this an event slated for trouble even before those flags signalled the start of the race? Perhaps.
If you lived to tell about your experience, you know that standing outside for 2+ hours in the blazing sun befell those who didn’t show up at the F1 Pit Building carnival from Tuesday through Friday, but that wasn’t all folks complained about. A test to vend packs via machines at shopping malls could have relieved congestion on collection day, but demand overtook capacity. Machines ran out of stock, leaving runners empty handed.
Criticism was dramatic—particularly on the topic of on-demand bib printing that proved a disaster. While some participants offered kudos to organisers for their trailblazing efforts, many were disappointed. If you’re one of them, keep reading. Organisers are committed to making good on promises to improve race pack delivery down the road. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?
9 suggestions for runners facing a race pack collection queue
- Make time to get entitlements on days devoted to collection at off-site venues.
- Stay in close contact with Spacebib or the event site for real time news updates.
- Contact organisers if special circumstances arise that prevent you from regular pick-up times.
- Check to see that you have the official photo ID or NRIC required before you leave home, not at the venue!
- Make sure you have digital copies of your paperwork (confirmation slip, authorisation letter, etc.).
- Set your alarm so you don’t oversleep and find yourself in a last-minute jungle of humanity.
- Once you’re in the queue, focus on your surroundings, not your smartphone.
- Help calm frayed nerves of fellow runners by short-circuiting negative talk that can erupt within an anxious queue.
- Check everything you receive at the collection point; you don’t want to go back.
- If rain is likely, bringing a fold-down umbrella or poncho could save your life.
How NOT to behave in a collection queue!
We joke about the comedic nature of race pack collection horror stories, but in fact, individual runners who show up at these late entitlement pick-up stations can do a lot to cool the fires of exasperation and frustration before, during and after a marathon. Yes, one runner can make a difference; here’s how:
- Don’t use Social Media to whine, complain and otherwise criticise the collection process, no matter how good it may feel at the time.
- Don’t call the organisers names, berate officials and volunteers—they’re doing their jobs as best they can under the circumstances and deserve your compassion.
- Don’t let “herd mentality” drive the queue. Psychologists and behavioural scientists frequently opine on how quickly our animal instincts can kick in when angry crowd members start reacting and fear takes over because everyone’s afraid they won’t get in. This biological reaction can lead to panic—the last thing any marathon crowd needs, especially if it’s hot and sticky.
For every mistake, lessons learned
After the OSIM Sundown debacle, plenty of critics are running around saying that they dread the next iteration of “improvements” because they could be just as awful as the experiments that disappointed, but if you put on your clever cap, you understand that failed experiments lead to amazing fixes.
The article “10 Ways Fringe Science Improved The World” shows how trial-and-error benefits mankind even when things start out badly. Transfer this thinking to marathon race day collection and you’ll understand that for every mistake, a lesson is learned.
Keeping in mind the truth that marathon organisers want nothing more than to make entitlement collection experiences fast, efficient and enjoyable, rest assured that even as you read this, plans are being made to improve the collection process. Your job is to be part of the improvement, not part of the problem.
The future of race pack delivery
What will the future bring? Use your imagination:
- Will vending companies improve machines so running out of materials can’t happen?
- Will delivery companies provide door-to-door service for runners who can’t queue on collection day?
- Can you envision walking outside to await the drone carrying your race pack?
It’s been a couple of years since “Insider Trends” newsletter profiled the “8 companies shaping the future of delivery,” but there were plenty of fabulous insights into what awaits, in terms of how people get timely delivery on time-sensitive products like entitlement packs. More pre-race pickup venues. Rail. Flight. Vehicles. Bikes. Ideas are limited only by man’s imagination.
Bottom line is that while things have gone howlingly wrong at times, problems associated with bad collection experiences will keep diminishing as one method is tried and either rejected or adopted. If any nation has the desire and need for faster and more efficient delivery methods, it’s Singapore—and if any activity stands to benefit from it most, it’s our marathon scene.
If you could suggest one creative way to get race packs to people beforehand (that would eliminate run day debacles), what would it be? Use your imagination!