Running is understandably the most popular sport in the world, according to Fitbit. All you need are a pair of running shoes and the will to cover long distances without giving up. That’s probably one of the reasons why there is a multitude of running events in the small city of Singapore and why the scene continues to grow each year. We chat with Geoff Meyer, avid triathlete and managing director of IRONMAN Asia, on what it’s like to organise large-scale running events such as the ASICS City Relay and the races around the world that are on his bucket list.
What does it take to put together a big race?
People often don’t realise all the planning that goes behind an event, especially on such a large scale. It involves a lot of co-ordination with hundreds of individuals from different backgrounds – from event organisers to agencies, as well as contractors and volunteers.
The ASICS City Relay (ACR) in particular is a lot more challenging in terms of logistics and operations, primarily due to its relay-style nature where a lot of planning and attention goes into the nitty-gritty details like ensuring smooth transition between team mates and tabulating of timings among all runners. At the end of the day, the team at IRONMAN makes all the magic happen. They have organised unique activities that will be happening at ACR 2016 this year, which we are very excitedly looking forward to unveiling on 24 September.
‘Bring Your Own Baton’ (BYOB) initiative
This is where we aim to build a stronger sense of solidarity and team spirit among team members, where teams are encouraged to bring their own batons with an added touch of creativity. Teams can use everyday household items such as toothbrushes to demonstrate their playful personality, or choose to personalise their batons to showcase ideals or inspirations. The team with the most creative baton will stand a chance to win attractive prizes, with the top prize being the latest FitBit to hit our shores – the FitBit Charge 2.
‘Best Dressed Team’
In addition to the BYOB initiative, runners are also encouraged to go all out and come decked in their most unique outfits. Teams with the most creative outfits that evening will be in the running to win the ‘Best Dressed Team’ award, $100 SEIKO vouchers for each team member.
Race Village opened to runners and the public alike
The race village, which is also opened to the public, will be filled with a myriad of peripheral activities for both runners and their supporters – from the crowd chosen ‘Bubblebump’ to an array of mouth-watering food and drinks stalls. In addition, guests at the village will also be treated to trance and Top 40s hits spun by DJ Victoria. Participants and the public will also get to enjoy a selection of goodies from event sponsors, from SoyJoy bars for that added energy boost, to Acti-Tape and Starbalm to help soothe post-marathon muscles.
What are the most common misconceptions or concerns that you would like to correct when it comes to big races?
A concern across all marathons is that big races are subjected to congestion. But, if you plan it correctly, this won’t be a problem at all. You can see it in last year’s edition of the ACR, where we did not experience any problems related to congestion. Also, many people, especially those who run leisurely on a regular basis tend to shy away from marathons and races because they don’t want to compete with others in terms of position and timing. In actual fact, races are for everyone – fast and slow runners, long-time marathoners and first time racers alike. The only person that you are competing against is yourself. And we want the ACR 2016 to be everyone’s first stepping stone to starting on a marathon journey.
I think of the ASICS City Relay as an improved version of our conventional marathons – something like a Marathon 2.0. One thing that stands out immediately is that it is a night relay marathon. This means that runners will have the opportunity to run the very scenic route along the Kallang River, which not only provides a nice night breeze, but also allows them to admire the vast CBD skyline from a distance. With the opportunity to run as a team with friends, there is lesser pressure to compete with other participants. Also with the stadium and race village open to the public, it is very encouraging to see not only your team members cheering for you from the sidelines, but also members of the public showing their support. There is actually a very strong sense of solidarity among all runners.
What are the races that should be on the bucket list of any runner?
On an international level, I would recommend the Queenstown International Marathon held in New Zealand – one of the most beautiful places on Earth. However, I strongly believe that running the world majors such as the Boston, New York and London marathons (amongst others) is also a must-do for all marathon runners that love a challenge.
At a local level, definitely the Standard Chartered Marathon. Not only is it our island’s go-to marathon event but also the largest one in South East Asia. It is ideal for first-time marathon runners looking to break into the scene.
Apart from running marathons, I am also very much into the triathlon scene. So for any runner that would like to explore this option, I will recommend the Noosa Triathlon Festival – the biggest world triathlon organised by IRONMAN in Australia.