Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The TNF100 Drama...

By Frank

The North Face 100 Singapore is over. And apparently it didn't go as well as previous years. Frankly speaking after joining it for the first time last year, I do not deny that this year's standard took a dip. But on another side of me, my hats off to everyone who had worked behind the scene in making this inaugural event happened. I may sound bias as the title sponsors are actually my colleagues from Singapore. But trust me, I'm just speaking on how I felt. Take not they are title sponsors and not event organisers. However, I just want to state, that this is my very own personal opinion, my 2 cents worth for it.

The drama started a week before the actual race back at the race pack collection. What appears to be the usual 7.00am starting time for the 100KM duo has been move later to 8.00am and this came as a huge surprise to many participants especially for those catching a flight back home. 2 of my friends Karen and Yim were affected by this as they are going to run another marathon later in the evening. However, their situation was quickly resolved by the organisers. So what actually went wrong? It appears a certain gate at a certain stretch was not to be open before 8.00am by the Singapore Public Utility Board. The organisers had tried to appeal for it but sadly, it wasn't granted hence the last minute decision to change the starting time. Whose fault is this then? My take is, there is no one at fault. Everyone had tried their best to resolve it.

Next we have the race pack collection. Though the goodie bag this year has seen its quality being upgraded, there were problems with the event t-shirt sizes. I was lucky to receive mine but many others who indicated size M and above who collected later only received smaller sizes. This not only happen to TNF100 but also to many other events, some big ones like Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, Sundown Marathon and even our very own events here in Malaysia. Technically speaking, this problem should not happen since participants had already indicated their sizes during registration hence this will be purely the sponsors and organisers fault.

Then come race day. Everyone was excited. Despite the change of start time for the 100KM Duo, runners turn up full strength. The came the drama. Route signage that was put up a week before the event went missing or even misleading. This had caused runners including a few of my colleagues taking the wrong turn and some even ended up running more than the actual distance. Yeap, even my colleagues which are the title sponsor do not know the route themselves before hand. I was one of the victim, but thankfully I did not take a wrong turn. Just had to stop to wonder. What really happen, I do not know. But the things I know is that the signage will most likely be sabotage by humans whether passer-bys or even runners themselves or perhaps even monkeys. Yeap, you heard me right, monkeys. Even our own Singapore Blade Runner aka Shariff had caught an uncle trying to turn the signage to mislead runners 2 days before the event. Shame on you uncle! I myself even saw some empty poles which should be housing the signage. They were not there. Therefore, what really happen, I do not know. My understanding is that biker patrols were sent out to check on them a couple of hours before the race, and some of them even were patrolling during the course of the race. Perhaps marshals shall be stationed at critical junctions so this will be one matter organisers should look into for next year's edition.

Hydration during a hot and long race like this will be critical. Water and Milo were the only planned fluid for runners but upon request, isotonic were then included in. Despite all efforts, a few water stations ran out of water. I've seen the amount of water brought to each station but also witness the ugly side of us humans. Some runners took the whole 1.5L water or isotonic drinks to themselves and carried along with them only to leave it on the run way later, probably only a quarter consumed. Why can't they drink it on the spot before resuming their run. This is rather selfish considering they are other slower runners behind.

Knowing the hydration issue, the title sponsors then took matters to their own hand. Upon completing my run, I saw them communicating with water stations on the volume they are left with. I too then share some of my insights with them indicating which station is running low on it. This gave them an idea and they quickly mobilise themselves and sent it out on their own. This swift action of theirs deserves praises as a few title sponsors are participants of the race themselves and they do understand the needs of runners.

Yesterday, the results were released. Yes, it took a while and there were many errors to it. Some who finished were listed DNF, or have misleading time. I myself have a missing first check point. But do the title sponsors and event organisers deserve to be called names and vulgar words? Come on runners, where are your manners? This time round was a new event organiser and yes they may be inexperience but please just share your insights with them instead of using vulgarity. As long you yourself knows that you completed the race, no other means can deny it. Not even a finisher medal or t-shirt can justify your own satisfaction and glory.

Despite all the drama and problems to this year TNF100, I personally think that the title sponsors has given their all. How do I know it? Simple. It's because I witness it. Humans are prone to error and there are limits to our work force and will. I've seen and heard my colleagues working day and night to prepare for this race but yet in return, what they receive was not a very pleasant. Running events sometimes do not go accordingly but do give them a chance to rectify things. Many events started off as flop but greatly improved the following years. Of course they sometimes take another dip, but hey, look outside the box before condemning them down.

Once again, this is my personal take on TNF100 this year. You may agree or disagree with me but here's my hats off to the title sponsors, The North Face who happen to be also my colleagues down in Singapore. Kudos to you all if you are reading this. WT, HN, MP, DY, KC, CO, RC, YT, NT, JL, JP and may other volunteers (I just use your initials rather than your full name).

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