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24th Aug
Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Marina Barrage Singapore Bay Run AHM 2008 Post Race Report

Posted by Shaun at 4:49 pm under Runs & Sports | 23293 Reads | 9 Comments

The Singapore Sheares bridge/Singapore bay run/Army half marathon was on this morning. The promise of the new route across the Marina Barrage is well, promising as it sounds and I believe the key selling point of this year’s race. I believe with so many new developments sprouting up around the Marina bay area, it’s just pleasing to know that every annual race from now on will be bolstered with something new.

The race conduct
The race generally started smoothly, with the waiting pens dedicated to their respective categories. In other words, only after the 21km runners are off, the place is not swarming with the 10km participants, allowing the 21km latecomers to join the race fast and smoothly. So as I come to know after starting the race late myself. Though the staggered race timings have something to do about it, I remembered a different situation last year, with many runners from other categories taking up the waiting pen area. I started off slowly at about 8km/hr on my calibrated watch (update: this is on a Polar RS400SD, thanks Sean for the heads-up I missed on this part) as I felt a stitch from breakfast not too long ago and bumped by to 10km/hr when it cleared upon touching the ECP.


The starting at esplande bridge

The open lanes of Sheares bridge

Check!- Distinctive circular object

First time ever, with the new widened ECP highway, especially the stretch by the Sands resort, it’s now it’s possible to have up to 3 lanes opened up for runners, with up two 2 lanes only opened to traffic. The result? A large and open overtaking area for runners alike and there was no crowd of choke zones even leading up towards the Sheares bridge, with 2 lanes open to last year’s one.

Things are not so picture-perfect given the confines of the east coast park, especially when runners start walking on the pavement, that proved to be quite of an obstacle for many runners- you can often see the whole group of runners slow to a jogging crawl especially on the return stretch after the U-turn. Runners have to squeeze through the walking pavement or go on the muddy grass to overtake, orange barricaded lined along the 2-way route evident near the U-turn point made overtaking harder in the crowd. On the contrary, the street side festivals were nice, I think CSSOM has the nicest booth, with the MPs taking the next best. Interesting to see many units using pressurized water jet guns set on sprinkle who serve as shower/mist points now, beats the used of the pump action bottle canisters many times over.

Is that an off-road trail I see?
Fort road will usually greet you again after east coast park, thereafter comes the route pointing into the usual “out of bounds” construction area which was opened for the event. This route is a gravel laid service road which serves as an entry point for construction vehicles serving the barrage construction and future developments. The trail area was very unexpected though, I saw the combat engineer’s banner on the top stating about a challenge route, but never know the trail conditions would be so bad- it was uneven and muddy, especially from the rain the night before.


The unexpected trail areas

The marina barrage

The barrage main complex and visitor center

There were many puddles and caked mud (which reminds you much of the Mizuno wave run at Bedok Reservoir). You can almost call it will a prelude’s prelude of the NBRR (New balance real run) trail run! Apart from the new route, what I can say is that overcoming this trail area would be the deciding factor for those looking to beat their 21km PB, especially if you are looking for a clean level race throughout, you will be quite out of luck with this new route.

Noticeable were the many marshals stationed on many points throughout the route, not to mention demarcated meeting points for casualty extrication, even on hard to reach areas like the Sheares bridge and the trail route, this is definitely an improvement of safety coverage from the organizers this year.

A brief highlight of the race was the run on the marina barrage which not only links the reclaimed lands of marina east and marina south, but damming it and turning the Marina Bay and Kallang Basin into a new downtown freshwater reservoir. The Marina barrage goes very much in line that anything we built here in Singapore as an icon should have it’s own building and visitor center attached to it. The barrage is no option either is a the plaza area is huge- a perfect place to complement the upcoming gardens by the bay attraction.

Photo happy
In all the race went on rather well for me, I finished on an estimate of about 2hr 40mins for this year’s race, (about 40mins longer than last year) with a bulk of the time on the barrage itself. Anyway I was not running for a PB this year and was shutter happy on the barrage. Nevertheless, took some good pictures on the views from the barrage, I even got a photostitich treat (and possibility a first) of the barrage, check it out!

Singapore's Marina Bay Marina Barrage

A 360 degree paranomic photo was shot at mid-span of the pedestrian bridge which sits ontop of the barrage itself, showing the view of the central business district and the out lying open waters of the southern straits. Note that the ends of the picture overlap by a little.

So far the race had been quite flawless, with regular water points and no considerable shortage of water or 100 plus (unless if you are a runner who started late). Striking distance markers are evidently at placed at 1km intervals throughout the route, with the last km split into 2x500m intervals towards the finish.

Post race
Contrary to many, the event do not end after you’ve crossed the line, there is still alot to do before you are done with he event. Noticeably is the ramp at the finishing line, because of the concrete F1 barriers in place, a ramp platform have to be erected to bring runners over it into the padang which is sadly very much a mud bath itself, but that’s something beyond the organizer’s control either. Maybe getting the various NSFs to gather out of the Padang will help much in the crowd management. There were ample drinks to go around, even after all the 100 plus were exhausted. There were plenty of seating areas within the runner’s pens for de-chipping, though many of use would have already got it off right after the finishing line.

This year, there are no tents stating clearly the baggage points as well as the runner’s post race admin and medal collection area, you will be quite lost if you do not know the padang floor plan of the event beforehand, but there were many army helpers you can always reach out for queries.


Inside the plaza area of the main complex

The run finishing crowds

Speedy baggage collection

Speedy baggage collection
An army-manned locker area is a new introduction this year, but I went for the baggage deposit as such services usually come standard and can either make or break a runner’s race experience. Even when I knew where the baggage collection was, I actually spent sometime getting to it from the padang- the 21km competitive collection points are located far right on one end of Connaught Drive, which not only made my deposit quite a pain to walk from the Padang entry point where everyone came from, but after the race through the mud pool as well.

Thankfully when you finally reach the point, baggage service was a breeze, not only there was no queue, I got both my bag deposited and retrieved in less than a minute. Jokingly, I remembered asking the baggage handler before the race what are their plans when it rains (as there is also no visible shelter over the baggage area besides the locker area), they said “just let it rain” (presumably as the items are already all cable-tied and water tight, or say, ground sheets will do the trick as well).

The only area for baggage I see can be improved is the location but nevertheless still a good thumbs up for the organization, this definitely beats the “dump in tonner” baggage collection back in the 2005 race. I can’t deny that AHM baggage collection are getting better and better each year.

Met up with SGrunners, saw Sotong, IMD, brokenrunner (brokie) and few new faces, as usual for the 2nd year running, I missed the photo taking again haha. Didn’t know it was so long till we last met, even brokie mentioned that it was a long time since she met Sotong, for me, it was even longer! Elrick my SP track and field senior who was in the Commando’s half-marathon team ran about 1 hours 40mins for his race, with his team coming in champions with their fastest runner at clocking in at about 1 hour 20mins.

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  • Claudio says:

    To start things off,I would say this year’s race a complete disaster as compared to the one last year,mainly because of the new trail route and the rain the night before.And my day just got started! Here how things goes…

    Upon reaching the carnival area in the morning,my friend and I were greet by the muddy grass all over the place,we tried to make our way through,but by the time we done that,our shoes were already full of mud(Reminds me of the Mizuno Run last year).Like Shaun said,there were no signs around to indicate where the baggage deposit area was,we ended up have to look all over the place,we even asked one of the saf personnel who was clueless as well.

    Moving on to the race itself,I started about 10 mins later after flag off as I had to went to the toilet (Queue was damn long).Just like last year,we had to make our way through the crowd as the organisers only opened up a small opening for the 21km category.Wondering if it is because I started late or the route was narrow,I find that I was being held up all the time! Throughout the entire race,I was unable to run freely as there are people who jogged so slowly and even started walking after few kms from the flag off.I was soooo pissed that I feel like shouting at them.These people are just basically taking their own sweet time to run or walk at their pleasure even at the centre of the road,there are even some SAF unit runners walked side by side chatting and almost took up the entire road! Maybe there should be a rule that those who cannot run should be more considerate and go to the side of the road and not get in other runners’ way.

    Talking about the new trail,it was a one hell of a disaster.That type of trail is the last thing any runner would want.The trail was uneven,and unsuitable to run on.Not to mention the rain the night before have made the situation worse.The banner that greeted runners at the entry point states “New trail,better timing”,but it’s more like “New trail, poorer timing” to me!

    For the rest of the route was ok just that it was the same old problem where many runners who stopped running got into my way.And when I finally saw the finishing line,I was so happy to see that and I finished it the “Usain Bolt” way.LOL.

    To post race,the problem of no signages presented itself again.I had to figured myself on where to find where to collect my finisher medal and drinks.Not to mention I have to walk through the stupid muddy area inside the carnival area once more.

    The bag collection was really a breeze as when I made my way to collect my bag,one of the army guys waved at me to tell me I could collect my bag at his counter.How I wished everything went as smoothly as that.

    Overall I would give this year’s race 1 out of 5,and the 1 only coming from the baggage deposit.

    Like I said at the beginnering,this year’s race was a disaster.Hopefully they can organise the same one like last year which I enjoyed very much.

    After the run,my friend and I decided to proceed to clarke quay to collect our race packs for the Nike human race.Just when we thought that we should be able to collect it smoothly as the collection time had just begun at 10am,we were wrong,dead wrong.We were shocked by the length of the queue which stretched all the way from the collection area which was the centre atrium of clarke quay all the way to the public carpark that was located behind Liang Court! Which I think is about at least 500 to 600metres long! There were hundreds of people in the queue and alot of them were just like us who came right after the AHM.The wait was so long and frustrating especially after the AHM as our legs were quite tired.We ended up waited for 4 hours starting from 10.15am to about 2.20pm!

    What I don’t understand is that why the organisers held the race pack collection on Sunday and Monday instead of Friday to Sunday.I’m guessing the reason why so many people turned up is because the following collection day,Monday,is a working and school day and many of the people would be unable to turn up to collect their race pack.And Clarke Quay was such a unsuitable location to conduct something like that and that is another thing i don’t understand why they choose there.

    The race pack collection could have been much smoother if the organisers had planned it over 3 days like Friday to Sunday and at a much better location.This incident just shows that how unprepared the organisers are for a event like this.Let’s just hope next week’s run would go smoothly.

    • Shaun says:

      Yea, the thing I noticed was that there were alot of slow runners in this year’s race, or maybe that you will meet alot of them when you started late, the drawbacks of starting late is that it will be very clear at the start, but they will usually all cluster up at the back after the 15km mark and start walking, that was quite a nightmare when you try to speed up for the finish. I encountered a runner who kept telling people we are walking to walk by the sides so as not to block others, I kept running behind her as she always managed to find a clear way through the crowd, that was at the east coast area.

      I think your rating of the race is very much on your overall impression of the race? given the runners. I think if you factor out the inconsiderate runners you encounter in the race, I can say that the organizing for this year’s race is actually very good.

      I almost wanted to collect my Nike+ race pack today, glad I didn’t! It was raining cats and dogs too right?

      • JuzMe says:

        Agree with Shaun.

        We must also factor out the rain the night before which casues muddy ground. In fact, we must be thankful for rain that give us cooling morning to run. Or else, it will be very hot , especially along the new trail.

      • Claudio says:

        Well the organizing was ok,but I thought the organisers could have foresee situation like rain and could have lay floor boards over the area so that we would not have step on the muddy area all the time.In fact it was quite a turn off before and after the race to encounter something like that.And simple things like putting up signages was not availiable as well,especially SAF being the organiser for a major event like this that has been going on for so many years.

        Another thing is that the new trail that was made available this year.I really wonder if the organisers put themselves in the runners’ shoes whether if the trail is suitable for running?I know the muddy patches were out of their control but the trail is simply not great to run on,this is not the REAL RUN after all!

        So in overall,the lay out of the carnival area,visible signages and the new trail were probably the negative points of this year’s race.So maybe 2/5 would be more appropriate then.

        Luckily you didn’t go and collect the nike race pack on Sunday,the queue was simply unbelievable.One of my friend who went early in the morning to collect the pack told me that the queue started as early as 8am! No problem with the rain as we were lead into the shelter area,but the queue just seems never ending.

      • Shaun says:

        Mmm I think the organiser’s could have saw the trail part coming, that is why they “purposely” put the combat engineer’s banner at the construction overhead gantry if you recall running into the area, beckoning runners to run a “new challenge”.

        I guess they should make it more explicit on the start or maybe on the race manual on that, as every year, it’s always a smooth road or pavement race round the marina south area, so I guess that was something we always expected or maybe take things granted every year I guess. But no one can deny that the trail came as a surprise for many, not only for myself, but even the competitive army teams my friend was in, who were only told by their coach to expect some terrain leading to the barrage just before the race.

        Collected da Nike+ 10km pack today. It’s quite crowded there but no queue, 1min wait time. It’s quite smooth flowing with 11 counters open. Was told only 3 were open yesterday? Whew!

        • Claudio says:

          Thumbs up to Nike for making such a fast response & feedback to all the participants by making an effort by emailing & sending sms to everyone! On the email they made an official apology to all the participants for making them wait for so long and any inconvenience caused.In additional they sent an sms to all Nike+ runners informing today they would open all available counters and promised that there would no queue.Great work Nike!

  • aldric says:

    hey thumbs up to yer review guess no one does it better

  • What a great blog something new i was surcharge for,Thanks…..

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