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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Runners, Plodders and Walkers Part II

Continuing from where I last left of, I was talking about the SBO runners vs the JJ runners. The SBO runners are basically unhappy with the JJ runners who take up to 8 hours to complete the FM. Their main unhappiness I believes, stems from the misconceived thought that the JJ runners ‘block’ their path while they are running thus causing them, the SBO runners to have to expend more energy to weave through them and thus spoiling their race. Apart from this, I do not think there are any other valid reasons for the SBO runners to be unhappy with the JJ runners.

However, this thinking of the SBO is not correct. Let me explain. The average SBO runners will take slightly over 4 hours to complete which means they will end around 9 am. The JJ runners take over 7 hours to complete. The route is one big loop and there is no overlap so how can the JJ runners be blocking their way since they are far far behind the SBO runners? But of course we all can see the mountain of walkers every year. Just take a look at the pictures of the marathon in 2009 below. This was taken at the Esplanade Bridge which is barely 300 metres from the finish. Look at the numbers who are walking! And notice that they who are walking have a different color bib whilst those FM marathoners with the white bib are the ones running.

So what is actually happening? The FM starts at 5 am. The average SBO runners will finish after 9 am. The HM starts at 6.30 am. The average JJ HM runners will take about 3 hours to complete the half which means they will be streaming in around 9 am as well. The 10km starts at 7.45 am. The average SBO 10km runners takes about 1 hour to complete 10 km and the average JJ 10km runners will take about 1 to 1 and a half hour to complete – ie between 8.45 am to 9.30 am. So what do we get? 3 group of runners converging at the same point at around the same time. When you have 3 lanes of traffic merging into 1, there is naturally a bottleneck and a big traffic jam or in this case – human jam.

So my point is – don’t blame the JJ runners. Blame the organizer. The organizer should make sure that there is minimum convergence. One thing is that this is out of their hand. The only way for them to do this is to have 3 different finishing points say – FM end via Esplanade Bridge, HM end via Bras Basah Rd and 10Km via South Bridge Road/Coleman Street. But that will never happen. That will involve too many road closures stretching all the way to mid afternoon. It is different with the start points. Once the race is flagged off, the roads can be reopened within a matter of an hour. With different routes to the finishing points, the road closure will stretch. And with Singapore being a major financial hub, the businesses will complain. The hotel guests cannot get to/from the hotels. The hotels complain. The motorists cannot go to the shops. The motorists complain. And the shops also complain. So no way will the authority allow this sort of multiple road closure. Even now for the single route, many of the major roads are only partially close resulting in runners having to squeeze into 2 lanes. Secondly, in their greed to milk the runners dry, they choose to ignore providing runners with a good race experience but instead even have all sort of 'weird' categories like the baby race. In most international races, prams etc would never have been allowed on the main race course but of course, this is Singapore, where money talks the loudest.

In fact, if my gut feeling is not wrong, the authority is going to disallow major road races on public roads in town once the whole Marina Bay is completed. The way I see it, the 11km route around the Bay and the Sport Hub will be used exclusively for the shorter races like the Shape, Great Eastern and next year 2XU run. The longer races – no problem – just continue into East Coast Park. Not enough? Continue to Changi Coastal Road. The park connectors have been purposed built for all these. So expect more jams. More delays. More weaving. More complaints. More bad race day experience. Whatever it is, don’t blame the JJ runners. Also don't blame the organiser. You think they do all these for you? After all, they are in it for the money. Less road closure = Equate more money saved. Thus you get the countless races in East Coast Park. If you must blame anybody for your bad experience during races, blame yourself. Why? Because you choose to take part!

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