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Friday, November 30, 2012

Brooks Run Happy 2012

This was billed as the first ever Singapore Party Run. Unfortunately, although the organiser did their best to create the party atmosphere, majority of the runners came more for the running then the party.. Still, there were a few who really got into the spirit of the whole party thing and came decked in their party best.

This guy has a jester hat!

This group was decked out in fancy attires

Our famous Catwoman forsake her costume for this red piece complete with red hair

And Miss Punggol came in a sexy 2 piece

There was a huge party at the end of the run at Marina Barrage with free flow of food, drinks and live performance.

Now all races in Singapore should be like this!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Can't find your Race Photo Part 2

The part 2. Been busy and my apologies for taking so long to post this. But hopefully this will come in useful for those doing the mother of all race, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

So how to make sure your photo is taken? I don’t know about other photographers but in my experience as a photographer wannabe, these are the things that make me press the shutter release.

During a race, majority of the runners will be in the sponsored event top. So if it is the SCMS, everybody will be in blue. Anybody else in different attire will get my attention and guarantee a snap. Like this young lady from the Punggol Runners. She will definitely get many many more pictures than everybody else. Wear a bright color. Wear a bikini. Or don’t wear anything also can. Anything to stand out. Like this lady Jenap who is always in one costume or another:

Get the photographer’s attention
Wave, dance, do something outrageous. Do something different - kiss the girl next to you. Hold hands when finishing. Do a cartwheel. Push a pram. Use a walking stick. Whatever. Anything to draw the eye of the photographer away from the sweet young thing in front of him to you. No promises but where possible we will try to oblige and take the picture.

Keep to the inner side
The photographers will be kept at bay by hoardings etc and will be positioned at one side. Keep to that side. If the path is wide and you run on the far side away from where the photographer is, his lens may not be long enough to zoom in and get a decent picture in which case he will rather take the photo of someone nearer. And also if his view of you is blocked by other runners, he can’t take your picture. Which brings me to the next point:

Keep away from other runners
Try to run alone especially at the finish line. If there are two or three person coming in together, the photographer may only have time to take 1 person not all 3. Worse if you are behind a runner. You be blocked like the guy in this photo. So try to space yourself out when you see a photographer. Slow down if you have to. Speeding up may be a bad idea because the photographer may not be ready for you or worse the guy next to you decides you are challenging him and ends up racing with you and blocking you off from the photographer.

Join a running club
Many of the photographers will try to take photos of runners from the various running clubs especially if they themselves belongs to that club. Wear their top during the race and as long as you are not blocked and can be seen by the photographer, you should be good for a picture or two. Popular clubs with strong focus on identity and have their own attires are Punggol Runners, Safra and Team Fatbird.

Be friend with the photographers
As long as you are known to the photographer and he can see you, chances are he will take your pictures. I try my level best to do this. After all, that’s our purposes at this event. To take photos of our friends.

But after all this, if you still can’t get a photo, maybe you need to do something really outrageous in front of the photographer like maybe strip naked, bash up somebody or you could do the easy thing and just go up to him and beg for a photo.

Happy Posing and Running!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eastside Deepavali Run

It has been a long time since we had an Eastside Run. The last one was in January this year on New Year Day. From time to time, friends have asked about it but with so many races throughout the year, there wasn't really any suitable weekend to do this and anyway, with so many more "official" group runs like IMD Running, Team Fatbird, I reckoned the interest in regional run has waned. And beside, it has not been easy to find interesting routes that will interest the runners.

But somehow, on Deepavali day itself, there opens a small window of opportunity. Most of the runners had started to taper for the coming marathon and it was a weekday and not a weekend so it will not clash with any races. So we ie TLR the big boss of Sgrunners and me decided it was as good as any to revive the Eastside Run.

And I am delighted at the response. I had hoped for no more than 30 runners but close to 70 turned up with some coming all the way from Yishun, Jurong and Punngol. 

As usual, we tried to incorporate some element of fun into the run by making the route more interesting and running into some "new territory". The only issue was the many semi-wild dogs which I had encountered previously but thankfully, with the big number of us, we vastly outnumbered the dogs and ran through without any incident.

A picture review of the run in this video

Hopefully we don't have to wait another 11 months for the next run.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012

Once again, another weekend, another race. But again I am not racing but kapoing. Not that I didn’t want to do this race but last I checked, I lacked the physical attributes to qualify for it. I did told the sidekick I can wear a skirt and run but she said don’t foul up the place with people’s vomit. Wondered what she meant by that? Anyway, the GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012 return for its fourth edition with a little bit of variation.
Previously, Great Eastern Life Assurance was the title sponsor of the event. This mean they paid for the rights to have the event named after that and that was basically it. They do not have “absolute” control over the rest of the details and organization. What happened this year, according to a little bird, was that Great Eastern decided that they wanted to increase the distance from the usual 10km to a half marathon but the event organizer did not want to. So there was a divorce and Great Eastern went ahead and appointed their own organizer to organize the event for them.
And what a right move to do! Just like last year was a year when every race seems to be hitting the pits with its poor organization, this year, every race organizer appears to be trying to outdo each other with great organization and generous freebies. I have not done many races this year but from feedbacks from friends and the chatter on the web, it was a good year for racing. I guess with so many events chasing the same pool of runners, the organizer had no choice but to up the stakes. The Yellow Ribbon as usual set the standard with its well planned route and carnival; the Newton provided goodies galore and even the TNF 100 got its acts right again. But the GREAT Eastern Women Run 2012 must in my opinion beat all of these hands down and could possibly be the best for this year if the SCMS maintained its poor route planning.
Noticed the GREAT? In capital letters? It was that GREAT!

When was there ever a race when the 3 categories of runners do not meet each other during the race? The 21k women had a different end route from the 10k and 5k women. There were no human jam and no congestion except for maybe the slower 10km runners who has to merge with the faster 5km runners.

When was there a race where there is a “Powder Room” to freshen up after the race? The Newton race last week gave a cold towel to each runner to freshen up. The GE Women provided a covered tent with mirror and toiletries for the ladies to clean up!
    A participant cleaning her face at the "Powder Room"
    Nowadays, free food at the end of the race appears to be a norm. There were muffins, fruits and drinks at the Yellow Ribbon Run. At the Newton, there were free soya pudding, biscuits, fruits and ice cream. GE Women had muffin, fruits, ice cream and drinks and hotdog in a bun!
The non-participants were not forgotten. There was a “playground” for kids and adults under the stand of the Floating Platform. The baggage deposit area was also under the stand which means the runners did not have to queue up in the sun to collect their bags.

Most local races offer token cash prizes and product vouchers. GE Women had $10,000.00 for its first prize for the Elite category and $3,500.00 for the Open Category. Even the winner in the 10k Women Master’s category get $1,000.00. Except for the Gold Label SCMS, which other race in town offers such great cash prizes? 

So the GE Women had it all. Great race experience, great scenic route and value for money. All perfect except for one small blemish.
They inexplicably went to create an “Elite” category and invited 15 runners; both foreign and local to come under this category. The “Elite” champion gets to take home the $10,000.00 whereas the 2 runner up get $5,000.00 and $2,000.00 respectively. Then there is the Open category opened to the rest of the field. The prize money is $3,000.00, $1,500.00 and $1,000.00. The “Elite” runners also get to start 2 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
These are the top 3 results in each category:
1- 1:17:58; 2 – 1:18:28; 3 – 1:22:41
1- 1:19:35; 2 – 1:24:02; 3 – 1:24:28
So what’s the problem? Unfortunately, the results on the top row are those of the 3 winners in the Open Category whereas the results in the bottom row are those of the “Elite” winners. It was no wonder that the Kenyan woman who came in top in the Open wasn’t smiling when she receive her prize. One certainly wondered how these “Elites” were selected. Take the local runners who were “Elites”. There were at least 3 local runners who had finishing time that were faster than the 10th place “Elite” runner.

The "Elite" Champion

Do they really need to have an “Elite” category? Wouldn’t they just invite their sponsored runners and let everybody have a go at winning the top prizes?
 Other than this, I think looking at the contended face of the women; it was definitely a GREAT race. Too bad we guys still don’t get it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Special Offer from BGO Ecoshop

The people from BGO Ecoshop has kindly offered readers a 10% discount for the purchase of "superfood" from them.

Now your chance to stock up on Chia seeds.

Just need to insert in the discount code "eat2run"

Terms & conditions:
1. This discount coupon is only applicable to items in the Superfoods category, excluding Bundle Deals.
2. This discount coupon is valid till 30 Nov 2012.
3. Courier shipping charge of $6.00 applicable for net orders below S$50.

Payment can be made by interbank transfer or Paypal/credit card. 

Please contact Chewy Loh if you have further queries.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Can't find your Race Photo? Part 1

One of the most eagerly awaited items after a race; in addition to the chip timing; is the race photos. In the past, the race photography scene was monopolized by the likes of Marathon photo and Sports PhotoX and to get one photo, a runner has to pay an arm and a leg for a hard copy. Then came the advent of the digital camera and photo hosting website and suddenly you can download them for free. The difficult part was sussing out where which photographer wannabe host his photos and whether they allow public access. Popular sites were Flickr; Picasa Web and Photobucket and the now defunct Multipy. But looking for one own photo through these websites was a pain in the posterior as there could be thousands of photos and most of these sites load photos at incredibly slow speed.

But then came Facebook with its super uber friendly photo hosting. A bit low resolution but the advantage with Facebook was everybody was free to tag photos and so if a friends see another’s friend photos, he can tag it and volia, no search required. The picture pops up in a notification from Facebook! How cool is that? So how come everybody else photo is there except yours?

Yes of the freaking thousand photos in all the friends’ albums in Facebook, your photo is not one of them! What happened? Why oh why? 

As a a runner and photo enthusiast who occasionally takes photographs at races, let me try to explain what happens and what makes a photographer takes a particular runner and not another.

A professional at work in front of the start line
Firstly, there are photographers and there are photographers. 

There are the professional employed by the event organizer or the official photo site. If the former, don’t hope to see your pictures. They are reserve for the eyes of the organizer only. Even if they do publish photos, it will only be a selected few – the flag off, the champions finisher and the prize presentation. If the latter, they will usually be stationed at the finishing line. Usually, they are seated comfortably right in front of the barriers. Their job is to take as many photo as possible but if there are thousand of participants, chances are they miss a few hundreds here and there. And don’t forget, you still got to pay an arm and a leg for the photo if you can find it. Good thing is their photo can come with official timing, logo, and a thousand and one format. Just remember the arm and leg.

A photo enthu with his bag of gadgets
Next you have the photo enthusiast. How to spot them? They are the one armed to the teeth with super duper long zoom lens, tripod and all sort of gadgets. They take photo selectively but whatever they take, be assured it is quality stuff. Only problem is, where to find their photos? One good source is photo forum like Clubsnap where they post their best photos for what they call “critique”. From there, a few click here and there and you should be able to find out where these photographers host the rest of the pictures. But don’t expect a lot. These photographers have high standard and anything that don’t meet their expectation will never see the light of day.

Then you have the runners themselves. Armed with a compact camera, they will run and take photographs of their friends, or pose at various memorial or scenic points along the route like the distance marker, drink stations, great view of the sea, the Esplanade; the MBS etc etc. But most of their pictures will be posed pictures of friends at the start and finish grounds. Running pictures if any, inevitably are not well taken and general not in focus. Not the type of photos that is going to show you with your determined face racing the guy next to you or your cheery face as you overtake that sweet lady.

Last but not least there is the photo cum runner enthusiast. People like the famous Malaysian guy, Mr Tey, who travels all over the region to take photographs of his running friends. These photographers, whose passion is running and photography see taking photographs of friends at races as a way of supporting friends. How to spot these people? They are usually stationed at strategic points along the route and armed with a camera fitted with a long lens (not the super duper long type). They may move from point to point; may even join in the run with the camera in hand! They are not very selective and try to take as many photographs as possible; and generally take fairly competent pictures. Photos are usually uploaded on to Facebook within days of the event and opened to the public to tag. There will usually be a few albums worth per photographers which will get numerous “likes” and comments and tag. 

And everybody will be happy except you cos you still can’t find your freaking photo.

To be cont’d

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Lion Dash Sprint 2012

A friend invited me to go down and look see look see. This is supposed to be the local version of an international event. So it being at the Tampines Mountain Bike park, I walked over to kapo. The website promised participants "a badass mud and obstacle race" with up to 10 - 15 kickbutt obstacles over a 5km route. On its website is the question: Are you a lion?" presumably because lion are fierce creatures but unfortunately, the participants turned out to be more "angry birds" than lion.

I reached the venue at 10am. There wasn't a big crowd. I wanted to get my media pass but was told by my friend not to bother. His words: "No need. Its a mess. Just go where you want". Hmmmm sound bad but from the look of the sparse number of participants walking around, nobody seem angry or frustrated. In fact, there was much cheer and laughter.

I walked around. The first obstacle I saw was this ramp where participants had to climb up a rope ladder and slide down. Not very interesting. Took a few pics and went on my way into the park.

Came next to a artificial mud pool. Now this looks more interesting. The participants came thick and fast. Some ran gingerly across the pool. Some jumped in. Some flew in. One angmoh rolled across the whole place. Majority seems to love the mud and went cavorting in it. It makes for choice photography. Too bad my lens was not long and fast enough to capture the action close up. I venture near once and immediately got mud splattered on my body from one over enthu lady who was flinging mud at everybody! Sighed.

Beyond the mud pool was a sort of "tunnel" which was just some black canvas draped across a water pool  The participants have to crawl in and out. Didn't look too bad since nobody looks freaked out after emerging from it.

Continued my journey in. Seems like I was walking backing and at the tail end of the race. The next obstacle was some tyres on the ground. Participants had to run across the tyres. Noticed that there was no marshall here. But everybody seems game enough to run across on their own. No short cut here.

Walked further in and came to a wooden partition which serves as a sort of wall obstacles. Guess participants have to climb over. Noticed again no marshall. Some participants simply walked around it. Wonder what their point of taking part in this type of event if they do not bother to clear the obstacles. But fortunately most people attempted to clear it. Team spirit was in great presence as those who can't climb were given plenty of helping hands by team mates or other participants. One guy gamely knelt down for a lady to step on to climb. Some students tried all means and methods to aid a friend to overcome it which she did eventually. Nobody was screaming for each other to hurry up. Everybody seems to be just having fun. One guy went the wrong way. I think he mistook the wall for a barrier. Where are the marshals?

Went further in and came to a double wall. Some people were climbing it.Some ran passed up the trail. Where are the marshals? And the signages? Decided this was as far as I will go. 

Went back to the race site. Discovered a giant ice pit. Employees from an ice company was pouring bags and bags of ice into the container but there was few takers for the ice. Weather was simply too good and I guess nobody was feeling so hot that they need a nice cold soak. 

Found out later that 40 or is it 40% of the volunteers failed to turn up. And directional sign and tapes were torn by mountain bikers. Sighed. So irresponsible of these people. But there were other complaints judging from the comments that were flying in fast and furious in the facebook page. But reading all together, I think everybody had fun and really enjoyed the event and at the end of the day, that is what matter most.