In case you haven’t noticed, there are so many running events in Singapore today that you actually need a full website just to keep track of all of them. I’m really not making this up.
Unlike the NDP or pop concerts where the crowd is generally stationary, when a hotchpotch of new and aspiring marathoners race to the same finish line, some bring bad behaviours, dampening the experience for the rest of us.
What many runners find frustrating is constantly rubbing shoulders with overtaking kan cheong spiders, where the passage is clearly wide enough for not one, but five men to pass. I’d invest in a protective vest to reclaim some personal space, but it might inhibit my race performance.
To preserve everyone’s sanity, race etiquette should be made a compulsory chapter in Running 101. While we wait for enlightenment to reach race organisers, allow me to, in the meantime, introduce a few handy cues that will serve new runners well.
1. Scoring a prime spot at the starting line
Whether you plan to take a focused crawl or leisurely run-walk through that first race, it’d be wise to start where you belong and join the pack that reflects your predicted finish time.
Getting chased down by a stampede of seasoned runners who are pursuing their PBs (personal best timings) is not only harrowing, it’s dangerous. Nobody likes getting a sprain and sitting out of the race from the start, right?
That said, steer clear of the other extreme, that is, weaving through the crowd and overtaking too aggressively from the start. It may sound like fun but many runners become dead beat from running too hard even before reaching the first water point. Not cool.
2. Lunging for water, not
It honestly doesn’t take practice to spot a water station. The tell-tale sign? The large crowd of runners engulfing the area.
Upon first sight of the oasis, the temptation to come to an abrupt stop and join the party is real. But this is no songkran, and there’s a long chain of runners behind you waiting to pass.
Grab a drink further down the station, there’s less crowd there. And don’t stop at every station unless you have to, though you might want to look out for unwelcome surprises. You see, many runners imagine that they are NBA superstars, but they’re really not, as they often chuck their unfinished drinks onto other runners’ shoes, despite the many trash bins lining the water points. Maybe they have their eyes on the prize.
3. Beating the bottleneck
With year-round construction work happening across the island, good running routes with few narrow bends or tapering pathways are as hard to come by these days as fluffy Tutu Kueh.
Patience at congestion points marks a real runner. They are always flexible to pick up speed when the crowd clears. These are likely grandmasters in pre-checking running routes on race websites.
If all else fails, think on the brightside. A bottleneck is a chance to catch your breath!
4. ‘To the left, to the left’
Stopping for a photo of that spectacular sunrise? Look around you, oh stinky one with the phone on a stick blocking the way. Yes, those grunts of annoyance from the other runners are probably directed at you. Wait, why aren’t those lethal contraptions banned yet?
Well, here’s something you can do to redeem yourself. Spread little gestures of encouragement to fellow runners. It also keeps boredom at bay.
5. Ready, Set, Drop.
It’s done. You’ve dragged yourself over the finish line and it feels like your feet will disintegrate anytime. At this point, you are on the verge of collapsing.
Except, not yet. Roll along if you must, or those who finish later will have no choice but to pile on you. Once you find a clean spot to plonk yourself down, it’s for eternity, you see? Just don’t forget your stretches.
Everyone is a winner in running – there is nothing more rewarding than wearing that finisher’s medal. You can top that off by sharing these tips with your race buddies.
Jade, when she was six, went to the cinema and heard “Run, Forrest, run!”. She hasn’t stopped since, despite bad race day behaviour.