After several consecutive races, I can finally have a race I can call my own—no more running others’ pace, no more target time—freedom to run as desired, and Fit ‘N Right was the right venue for me. It was a particularly interesting event especially that this was my first race at the SM Mall of Asia compounds. Here’s my rundown of things as it happened.
A lot of runners were concerned when race packets weren’t outright distributed with registration because recent similar events went unwell, and despite the organizers’ best efforts what many runners feared happened again—delayed race packets distribution.
I registered a few days before the regular registration cut-off date. Registration went smoothly and the people manning their booths were very friendly and accommodating. As one of the endorsers of the event I knew how race packet claiming should have been, but when the claiming date came I’ve heard of problems. I decided to claim my kit Thursday before the race and to my surprise my kit still wasn’t there! I didn’t bother showing my disappointment with the people in their booth as I clearly know it’s not their fault and they were already being battered by anguish from angry runners. They were very apologetic and informed me that they’d contact me if my kit was available, but until Saturday, hours before the race, I received no such message. I was prepared for the worse—running without a race number.
A few minutes before 5:30AM I was on queue to claim my race kit. I was surprised at how many runners were actually there! This was in no means your small time event; it was even comparable to events by Runrio! After being in line for some time I was able to get my race packet containing a singlet, course map, and a race number with RFID—say what, RFID?!
Yes, the biggest surprise for this race was the use of RFID, a first in local races. We were introduced this year with disposable timing chips, and now FNR “silently” introduced RFIDs which I prefer over the former because you don’t have to lace anything to your shoe—it’s just there with your race bib! Registration cost for this race was one of the cheapest for the year so it was pleasantly unexpected. Things suddenly turned up for this race.
Early on we had a hint that there may be a mass-start but thankfully somebody must’ve advised the organizers to start by category, making for a better start. It was already past 6AM but the pre-race program was still being staged, and with much pressure from the 10K runners the race started 6:23AM, five minutes later followed by the 5K which was my event.
A Cautious Race
It had been a very long time since my last 5K run and I have to admit that I really missed it. After doing an International Marathon sweep you may be wondering why I went back to 5K. The reason was simple—I’m on my taper period for the forthcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Of course being free of any pacer duty I can run freely—the temptation of “touching” my almost year-old 5K PR was too much to pass over. With the flat and Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA)-certified course it was a perfect venue for a race, and a PR. Unfortunately I had pains on my right side so I decided to take it easy—going as fast as comfortably possible without risking aggravating the injury.
I thought I had started relatively near the front row but I had a hard time navigating through the crowd. Since I wasn’t able to warm up properly I just took that opportunity to do just that, and to my surprise the pain that was bugging me wasn’t there! A few minutes later I spotted Natz (i2runner) and thought he’d be a good pacer so I ran behind him.
Since I’m in a “cautious mode” I decided to “ignore” other runners, including Natz whom I know was just around. This was my race so I decided to race with myself and nobody else. Before I knew it I was heading back to the Finish line. That’s the beauty of a 5K—you won’t get bored.
Final kilometer, 18 minutes, a possible new PR looms. 500 meters later, I can see the Finish line. It was one of the longest 500 meters of my life as I attempt to shave a few seconds off my 5K PR and upon reaching the Finish, 22:25 says my GF405 (gun time), a new PR! I didn’t really expect to trim my 5K PR by 46 seconds especially that I wasn’t gunning for it! A nice race it was.
The 5K Perspective
The Dare to be Fit ‘N Right Fun Run was a surprisingly well handled event, and in fact if it weren’t for the really notorious lowlights it would’ve been a very good race. Here are my observations based on my 5K perspective:
- Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA)-certified race courses
- Excellent venue for setting new personal records
- Use of RFID
- Route markers (with color coding)
- Relatively cheap registration fee
- A lot of giveaways and raffle prizes
- Race packet distribution
- Late start
- Insufficient water at cramped water stations
- Insufficient portable toilets with the number of participants
- A lot of runners weren’t given the post-race freebies
- Cramped baggage counter
- Late and inaccurate race results
It was another event with very good highlights and nasty lowlights but overall the race was Good (3/5). I noticed that most of their problems stemmed from distribution (race packets, giveaways, baggage counters) and some from lack of experience (lack of water, lack of signs at the finish line, lack of portalets) but seeing how well the race was managed I can only assume that the organizers got the lessons that they needed. For the awareness of the organizers, here are some of the issues that are for improvement:
Running takes time and for the sake of runners’ skins we try to avoid running with the sun high up in the sky by starting early. If a program was to be held pre-race start it early so as not to delay gun start.
Water supply should at least be sufficient for all runners, and the station should have long tables to avoid crowding. Cups should at least be the number of times each runner would pass that station. How much water is needed could easily be computed based on the number of cups.
Some marshals are noticeably inexperienced. You shouldn’t abruptly stop runners upon crossing the Finish line as it may cause them injuries. Get runners’ times with being obstructive.
Crowds weren’t managed well at the Finish area leading to a very crowded area for late finishers.
If signs were placed atop the Finish gate there wouldn’t have been much of a need for Mr. Rey Langit to repeat himself over and over to guide runners.
Not all received their giveaways. When I arrived (about 27 minutes into the event) there was already a long queue at the booth because the people manning the station stalled. The situation turned worse as more runners arrived and until it was like a “relief goods distribution” center did I saw some movement. Unfortunately they also didn’t pack enough for all the runners so many went home empty handed (including myself).
With more than 4,000 runners the baggage counter was ridiculously small and was seriously understaffed.
Hopefully the succeeding races pickup from the good points of this race and learned from its shortcomings. To the more than 4,000 runners that Dared to be Fit ‘n Right, especially to those who have bettered themselves, Congratulations!
UPDATE: My time based on the original race results was actually 22:22 finishing 20th overall out of 1,181 5K runners! One of the best finishes for me and it’s from a PATAFA-certified route! Nice! 🙂