SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2014: Together We Ran and Heard Our Army Boys ROAR!
Since the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half-Marathon (SBR & AHM) launched in 1992, this 23rd edition of the run remains a key race in many Singaporean runners’ calendars, especially National Service (NS) men taking part with their units or family members.
One of Singapore’s largest running events planned by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) saw about 46,000 runners, with a majority being national servicemen and SAF regulars, pounding the pavements in the Central Business District area on an early Sunday morning.
Exciting Race Experience with Scenic Landmarks and Fun Street-Side Festivities!
Of the 46,000 participants, 21,800 runners competed in the 21km AHM. 84 percent of these 21,800 runners were SAF regulars and national servicemen. This marks an increase of 8 percent in their participation in this category, or about 1,600 runners more than 2013.
Like the past years, the races were flagged off at the iconic Esplanade Bridge at 5am for 21km, 7am for 10km and both categories ended off at the Padang. The route included prominent Singapore landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, the newly minted Sports Hub, Singapore Flyer and F1 Pit Building.
The great race experience included 21km pacers from the Safra Running Club and Team Fatbird which helped to boost the morale of newbie runners and set the tempo for seasoned runners wanting to hit their personal best timings.
The organisers also put in effort to excite and provide entertainment for runners along the route by having street-side festivities such as cheerleaders, stilt-walkers, percussion bands and many others!
2 New Entries into Singapore Book of Records!
The 2014 edition, which retained the 800m Father and Child Challenge and 5km Fun Run, boosted opportunities for family bonding with national servicemen through several happiness-themed elements during the race, including a 500m bubble zone and “Happy” mascots, and at the race village, carnival games and inflatable play zones to keep the children occupied.
Indelible memories were forged, with 2 new Singapore records achieved. The “Largest Father and Child Race” had a total of 737 pairs qualified for the new record at this year’s challenge, surpassing the previous record of 671 pairs in 2013. The “largest gathering of people to wear masks” saw 1,191 people set the second entry into the Singapore Book of Records.
Large Turnout and Good Organisation, But Route Can Still be Improved
Soh Hua Qun, one of the top national middle-distance runners and coming in first this year for the Singapore Bay Run 10km distance, welcomed the change of the 10km route, which brought runners through Kallang Riverside Park instead of being confined to the road.
Nevertheless, he hopes that the organisers could continuously look into route improvements, commenting,
“The route was much more challenging this year as we need to overcome more sharp turns along the route which breaks the momentum of the run.”
There were still bottlenecks at certain areas, especially where the faster 10km and slower 21km runners merged towards the last 3km mark near the Singapore Flyer, as well as along Tanjong Rhu.
Some areas were rather dark, and the lights provided did not seem enough. According to national head coach for middle and distance running, Ghana Segaran, who had participated in the 21km AHM race numerous times, felt that the organisation this year was a big leap from last year. However, he added,
“More lights could be available along darker narrower areas, such as along Gardens by the Bay East and Tanjong Rhu. Otherwise, the whole event is very well done!”
Receptive to Feedback & Looking Forward to 2015!
As an avid participant of races, I was glad to see the AHM organisers seeking public opinion openly after the race again for feedback to improve next year’s race, an initiative not often seen in many other races. This reflects the ready-to-improve attitude and humbleness of the organisers to better the race experience for the next year.
It would be exciting to anticipate whether SAF would roll out any new and interesting initiatives for next year’s edition, in line with SG50 (Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations). Some ideas suggested by the seasoned runners interviewed included having more iconic landmarks on the route and more interesting light-ups along the route for an even more unique experience.
Dr Joshua Li, an avid triathlete and one of the top runners in Singapore, who had achieved 13th position for the 21km Men’s Closed Category, commented,
“Why not consider an evening or night race? Since the AHM has been held annually in the morning, that would certainly be different!”
Well, we will leave it up to our friendly dear organisers to conceptualize the generous feedback given by the running community!
- Race organisers listened to feedback, and new route was welcomed by runners.
- Pacers by SAFRA Running Club and Team Fatbird set the tempo for the race.
- Fun street-side festivities such as stilt-walkers, percussion bands and cheerleaders.
- Entertaining fringe activities at the race village, such as inflatable play zones for children to enjoy themselves.
- While better improved, there were still chokepoints at certain areas.
- Illumination did not seem enough for several sections of the 21km race route.