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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Runners, Plodders and Walkers Part I

The dust has finally settled. Silence is golden. Every year after the full marathon is over, inevitably there will be a heated debate in cyberspace be it Facebook or the sgrunners forum. The bashing can become so bad that sometime it seems like there is no common ground between the 2 differing views. And this is not the case just here in Singapore but oversea and nothing ignite the debate better than this quirky and yet provocative ad from Pearl Izumi.

What am I rambling about? The eternal struggle between the runners and the plodders of course. The runners and here we are not talking about the elites but the (See Bey On) runners who typically complete a marathon in say less than 5 hours and those (Jalan Jalan) runners who complete a marathon in say 7 – 8 hours.

The SBO runners feel that there is no place for JJ runners in a full marathon. They argue that the JJ runners who typically walk at least half the distance should not participate as they take up the slots meant for the SBO runners. They said the inclusion of the JJ runners makes it difficult for them to run properly and they waste precious energy and strength weaving through the JJ runners. Therefore the JJ runners spoiled their experience in the race. They also sniffed at the JJ runners claiming that these people are in it only for the ego trip and to flaunt the finisher tees. Finally they said JJ runners do not ‘respect’ the distance by not training and taking the marathon serious enough and demean the efforts they, the SBO runners put in to train for it.

On the other hand, the JJ runners questioned why they are not entitled to run. How they choose to complete the marathon is nobody business. Their argument is that the SBO runners are promoting elitism which has no place in Singapore. And why can’t they run to get the finisher tee? Everybody has their own objective to do a race, some to win prizes, some to get a PB, some just to complete and some of course just for the goodies. They have as much right as the SBO runners. After all, they paid the same registration fee. And they further argued – it is much tougher to complete a marathon in 7 – 8 hours as compared to one who can finish in under 5 hours so they deserve the finisher tees just as much as the SBO runners. And finally they argued that they ‘respect’ the distance, which is why they choose to do the full marathon because they know that whether it is to run or walk, it is not easy.

So 2 sides of the coin. Both with fairly reasonable arguments. Who is right and who is wrong. And where do I stand? On the one hand, having had to bash and run and evade walkers in both the AHM and SCSM, I can understand the frustration of the SBO runners. However, as a slow runner who had on 3 occasions been forced to walk at least 12km of the marathon, I know it is not easy to complete a marathon and everyone who can completes the marathon deserve some respect whatever their motives in participation.

In fact after running here and overseas, I think the argument should not be about runners/plodders or walkers. It should be about the experience and as long as Singapore continues to aim for the biggest race in the world, be it the AHM or SCMS, we will not get a good race experience and SBO runners will continue to be frustrated and the JJ runners will continue to sign up in droves. 


  1. I wonder if we could fish out those JJ runners who signed up for the finisher T-shirt and yet never do the distance, that is, they will join in the race midway and do a nice pose in completing the race in their desired time and still able to choose their desired t-shirts.

    In their final race result will be a DNS status.

  2. Possible why not? If the runners are prepared to wait.

    With the timing chip being online, the finisher tee collection tent can be hooked up and the volunteers can check the timing before they give the tees away. But there will be delay as a result. Will the runners cry mother cry father?

    Or the organiser can give out the finisher tee on a different day - maybe collect at the apparel sponsor's outlets. But then what about the foreign participants?