Monday, 9 December 2019

StanChart marathon organisers should apologise to us runners too

Dear everyone inconvenienced and angered by the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM),

It probably doesn’t mean very much coming from me, but I’m sorry.

It was partly my fault.

Well, mine and the more than 51,000 runners who took part in the marathon, half marathon, ekiden, 10km race, 5km race, and 600m kids dash. (“Ekiden” is just the fancy Japanese way of saying “relay race”.)

So actually, it was less than one-51,000th my fault, but I still feel responsible.

I was in the half marathon, held for the first time at night on Nov 30, along with the full marathon and ekiden. (The kids dash was the day before. The 10km and 5km races were on the morning after.)

It was for me – and a few thousand others – that major roads were closed two Saturdays ago, resulting in apocalyptic traffic jams and more than a few unhappy people like you.

And especially Mr Selwyn Koh, who ranted in a viral Facebook post that the SCSM organisers’ decision “reeks of nothing but stupidity and selfishness”.

He wrote: “One look at the full listing of roads that are scheduled to be closed and anyone with a brain will know that it’s going to be a disaster.”

He pleaded to the organisers not to do it on a Saturday evening again, urging: “Have some compassion, even if you don’t have a brain.”

But brainless or not, Mr Geoff Meyer, managing director of Ironman Asia, which organised the marathon, told The Straits Times that moving the race back to the morning “would be the last thing we want to do”.

However, he also apologised and said that Ironman Asia (not a member of the Avengers) could have done better.

But his response was criticised for being self-righteous and “a sorry-not-sorry attempt at papering over the flaws”.

There was also an apology from Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive of national sports agency Sport Singapore, a co-organiser of the SCSM, who wrote to ST: “We apologise to those caught off guard and inconvenienced by the traffic impasse.”

That makes it sound like it is your fault for not heeding the extensive road advisories issued way in advance and being “caught off guard”.

So now it’s my turn to apologise, even though I didn’t organise anything.

During the race, I felt guilty that despite being a glacially slow runner (I was overtaken by a guy in a tyrannosaurus costume), I was moving much faster than the vehicles I saw on the road that night.

I would understand if some of you frustrated drivers fantasised about stepping on the accelerator and running us over, but I’m appreciative that you didn’t.

Who knew that people would be more outraged by the road closures than by a new version of the national anthem?

Because of all the negative publicity, I’m now too embarrassed to don the SCSM 2019 race singlet I got as part of my runner’s entitlements.

Or casually wear my finisher’s medal to work to impress my colleagues like I used to in previous years.

Instead of a badge of honour, the medal has become a reminder of my culpability and shame. My 21.1km achievement is tainted because of the backlash.

As such, I feel the SCSM organisers should also apologise to the runners for making us accessories to a sporting event that caused weddings to be ruined.

And that complicity is what I hope to atone for with my apology to all of you.

I am sorry that you were stuck in traffic for hours with nowhere to pee just so I could get a dumb medal that I would never wear out.

If it is any consolation, my legs hurt so much after the race that I couldn’t walk properly for two days.

My guess is that it’s probably no consolation at all.

- Published in The New Paper, 9 December 2019

EARLIER: Standard Chartered half marathon: My last race? (Yes, I've said that before)

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Sorry for the inconvenience: I apologise for enabling the Standard Chartered Singapore (half) Marathon by joining it

I know people are angry about the road closures and traffic jam caused by the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on Saturday night.

Especially this guy named Selwyn Koh:

Even though I'm not the organiser, I apologise for all the inconvenience caused as I was one of the runners who took part in the race.

If it weren't for thousands like me, there wouldn't be a Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and so many people wouldn't have to suffer.

Even during the race, I felt guilty that despite being an extremely slow runner, I was still moving much faster than the vehicles I saw on the road that night.

Because of my inconsiderate behaviour, many were stuck in traffic for hours and late for appointments, even weddings.

Other people shouldn't have to be punished just because I want to punish myself by completing 21km just to get some stupid finisher medal. (Since I joined the half marathon, I didn't even get a finisher T-shirt. Only those who finished the full marathon got a T-shirt.)

Was the medal worth it? Not if I caused my fellow human beings so much pain.

In the future, I promise never to join any organised mass run that require any major road to be closed on a Saturday night so close to Christmas.

If it's any consolation to Selwyn Koh, my quads still ache from the 21km.

UPDATE: The organiser has apologised.

EARLIER: Standard Chartered half marathon: My last race? (Yes, I've said that before)

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Standard Chartered half marathon: My last race? (Yes, I've said that before)

I had decided not to join the Standard Chartered half marathon again after the last one.

But this year, it would be held at night for the first time. That got me interested even though I hadn't enjoyed night races in the past like the Marina Run and Sundown Marathon. I wanted to see how Standard Chartered would do it differently.

The weather yesterday evening was cloudy and cool, which was great for running. Some complained about the humidity, but I was used to it.

The turnout was huge.

Flag-off was 6pm, but I didn't cross the starting line until 6.20pm.


I bumped into someone I know from my navy in-camp training back in the day. I don't remember his name. I was impressed he was doing the full marathon.




On Cecil Street.



I managed to get a blurry picture of Soh Rui Yong, who was the first Singaporean to finish the full marathon. Quite a number of runners were ahead of him, presumably non-Singaporeans.



This year's half marathon route was similar to last year's, going from the F1 Pit Building to West Coast Highway and back.

A random Elvis impersonator near Vivocity.




13km, just before the U-turn.

14km, heading back.





This was where I was very glad I didn't join the full marathon. I couldn't imagine going another 21km.


Her shirt says: "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong". Does this count as a demonstration? Call the police!



Finish line in sight.

My last medal?

Not my best half marathon time, but 10 minutes faster than last year. So I guess I can retire from racing on a positive note.

So long.