What do you do when you open a brand new 55,000-seater National Stadium that includes a state of the art, brand new 400m track? Hold a running event there of course!
The inaugural Straits Times (ST) Run at the Hub had all the hallmarks of being a great event. 3 categories of events (21.1km, 10km, 5km) enabling over 20,000 running athletes of all levels to take part.
First Running Event to Feature the Singapore Sports Hub!
The race route ticked off the major landmarks on the famous Singapore skyline like Marina Bay Sands, and finished in the newest, biggest and most exciting addition to the sporting scene here in Singapore: the Singapore Sports Hub.
Arriving at 5am by taxi, my excitement briefly turned to nervousness as the taxi dropped me off at the hub and there were no signs or stewards directing towards the starting area. A lesson for me to read the pre-race briefing notes, but by the bemused faces on fellow runners around me, I wasn’t the only one feeling a bit lost.
Once I found the starting area, the pre-race area was small and lacked much atmosphere, probably due to the limited space and noise restrictions. I duly dropped my belongings in the baggage storage (very efficient) and wandered down to the start line along Nicoll Highway, where lining up with the hundreds of other half marathoners, I eagerly awaited the flag off at 5.30am.
Refreshingly Scenic Race Route Followed a Different Direction
At 5.36am (the timing I’ll forgive, as the pre-race announcer was a very animated and amusing guy), we headed off to tackle the course which overall was not too bad!
Despite covering familiar areas such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay sands, familiar tracks that other Singapore races cover, the route refreshingly followed a different direction. It was relatively flat, well-marked and marshalled, stocked up high with water and sports drinks.
Some areas to improve would be the few tight squeezes past the pacer groups in the early stages, the F1 Grand Prix pit stop area which disappointingly was all in darkness. At the final stages, the looping around the Sports Hub’s outside perimeter also seemed a little confusing.
Finishing the Run in the National Stadium like a Star!
Starting a race at the crack of dawn, supporters were few and far between, but as I entered the stadium tunnel, the sides were lined with fellow runners shouting encouragement and cheering. For a minute, I imagined this must be what it feels to enter the stadium after the end of the Olympic marathon event!
It was definitely a spectacular view as I entered the stadium, crossing the finish line with the sunlight streaming through the dome’s roof, with a stunning view of the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands in the background. It would have been even better to have been able to do a longer stretch in the Hub rather than a mere 200m.
William Muk, a 21.1kmm runner, enjoyed the experience.
“I was immediately attracted to the idea of running into the National Stadium. So I thought this is one race I cannot miss. The excitement of finishing in the stadium was exhilarating and the atmosphere made it worthwhile. On the whole, I thought the route was okay, but it was a good run for me as I achieved a new PB too!”
Unique Race Event Featuring a World-Class Setting
Organisation in the finish area was smooth and efficient. A generous selection of goodies including a t-shirt, finisher medal (for 21.1km runners), water, bananas and spots drinks, and were all manned by fast-moving personnel.
The usual grass pitch was covered, allowing race participants to mingle around the entertainment stalls, have their photo taken or simply sit back and take in the views around this amazing stadium, which currently holds the world record of the largest free spanning dome ever made.
A few improvements could be made here with baggage storage being more accessible (it was a 10 minute walk there and back into the stadium), and more facilities open to serve food to over 20,000 runners who were getting peckish after a morning run!
Surprisingly, much of the prize giving, onstage games and acknowledgement of sponsors were done after the majority of runners had gone home. For example, the 21.1km prize giving was done at 10.30am, 3.5hrs after the first runner had finished! This was a shame, as it was clear that the sponsors had invested a lot of time and effort into this event.
This event was unique, a chance for all Singaporeans and residents here to run in this iconic Singapore structure. Despite some areas for improvement, this was an overall well-organised event in a spectacular setting, giving us a great preview into what the Singapore-hosted 2015 SEA Games will be like next year!
- Being the first race in Singapore to finish at the National Stadium gave runners a first-hand experience of the Singapore Sports Hub.
- Runners went through a refreshingly different direction that still covered majority of Singapore’s scenic city skyline spots.
- Very efficient race volunteers (for bag collection, race goodies collection and refreshment stations) as well as funny, entertaining pre-race build-up.
- Nondescript start area caused confusion for runners turning up for the race.
- No lighting during F1 Grand Prix pit stop area.