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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!

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