#76 Singapore Marathon: Was It Clean?

#76 Singapore Marathon: Was It Clean?

9th December 2018

Completely exhausted, I closed my eyes at 10pm to listen to the music of the raging storm beating outside my window. As peals of thunder drum rolled outside, images of Zeus sending lightning bolts down to our realm flashed in my head. By mid-night the rain was a gentle pitter-patter on the window. I dragged my weary body from bed to prepare for the onslaught of the final day. It would have been so easy to just turn over and say sod it to everything. Sleep deprivation and standing around for the last 4 days was taking its toll. I really didn’t want to be running today, but would do so to continue the fight for everyone who pledged to bin their waste; for everyone who promised to bring their own bottle to the event and to all those volunteers who would be out there helping to support change in our throw away society. I told my fatigued legs, exhausted head, and eyes complaining about heavy bags – “This would be the last day. One last battle and you can all rest after. We’ve done this before!” https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/arrowhead-4-4-psychotic-battles/

Green Run Ambassadors running 42km to remind runners what to do

I poured a small amount of coffee powder from a 2 in 1 sachet into my mouth …..Ahhh caffeine – never touch the stuff unless it is absolutely necessary and tucked the rest into my “nutrition” pouch along with salt sachets to defend against the humidity and heat plus some vitamin C tablets to psychologically perk up the system. I am highly caffeine sensitive so this wee bit would probably last the marathon!

Heading out towards the bus stop to catch the Share transportation to the event, it was still raining and prayed it would continue throughout the event. At that moment, I strangely missed the solitude of the snow and ice on the evergreen trees, having made a decision to give the cold ultras a miss in 2019 to focus on forging ahead with greening up marathons.

As the Share transport arrived, one kind gentleman helped me to carry Tring, my tyre to the back of the bus. Seeing over 20 fellow runners and caffeine coursing through my head, I seized the opportunity to deliver a final “Bin It” pitch to a captive audience as the bus began to move. After, a fellow runner who sat at the back with Tring and myself, enthusiastically created dialogue. There are sooo many who really want to see a clean, green event who are increasingly finding the self-centred PB (Personal Best) athlete disturbing. After all this is the brand that the late Lee Kwan Yew instilled in us over the 50 years he was in power….”Clean & Green” Singapore.

Finally after an hour of seemingly travelling in all directions to get around road diversions, we streamed out of the bus to walk towards the entrance of the event village. It had security points for the first time checking all our bags. where once upon a time anyone could waltz into the start point. Security where unhappy with my tyre and was held up for 20 minutes as security cleared Tring with the organisers before we could enter the event village.

The Green Ambassadors were marching around the event village, Bin It signs held high just as we had done the night before. No one dared to leave litter on the floor!

I headed over to try out the bag deposit (a first for me as I normally just carry everything). The event had provided a clear plastic bag for participants which it is highly likely would be thrown away after the event. Regardless, there were no hold ups compared to the grumbles of yester-year. By 4am it was time to get some of the green ambassadors into the corrals to remind runners to keep the course clean.

Had checked out the corrals the night before. Pictured with another Green Run Ambassador. On Marathon night Sharon and Michael reminded runners.

The Run

Having heard no emcee reminder announcement about litter on the course nor about the separation of waste at the end, I urged one of the staff who were looking after the corrals to remind the emcees. By the time the event started nothing still had been said. The wheelchair category were released first, followed by the elites + A category. 5 minutes after, the B category were released. Having a special dispensation, I was located in category B (sub 3:30 runners). As the crowd crossed the start line, I headed over to the emcee to show him a sign to make an announcement to the rest of the 10s of thousands in C to G.

Sign for Emcee

I ran the first 15km every now and then picking up Tring to keep her close to me, only putting her down when it was safe to run freely without causing any other participants any issues.

Advantages of Running With Your Own Bottle

Running with a reusable bottle of water meant it was easy to bypass the first 20km of hydration points and the hoards that blocked the tables. Am surprised when fast runners tell me carrying a bottle could potentially slow them. During the first 15km, I watched runners slow down to pick up a drink as well as queue for a drink despite there being about 20 metres of tables with drink.

With now a single case study (Cheltenham Challenge) with runners BYOBing and the overall times being faster times than the previous 5 years, I wondered about people’s preconceived ideas of being faster without a bottle. And even if it isn’t a foregone conclusion, today’s PB should be one with hobbyist runners carrying their own cup or hydration device.

Noting that the first couple of hydration points were littered with cups, could only think that the B group were mostly responsible. Passing more hydration stations and hearing cups dropped on the floor, I yelled a banshee cry “Put your cups in the bin. Be respectful to runners behind you! No one likes running through your trash.”

The 12km hydration point was a station along Keppel Highway managed by Food From The Hearts and we worked with them earlier on to create reminder signage. Had considered to say a respectful hello, but with masses of people gathered round their station, decided to avoid their station altogether. (Sorry Sandra).

There was less rubbish compared to when I last participated in the Singapore marathon in 2012. Certainly the carpet of bananas and gels thankfully no longer existed. However banana skins and yucky empty packets of gels were still being tossed to the side of the road and too often in front of the drains. If it had rained, the gel packets would have easily slipped into the drains and out to sea.

Photos from Ming Ham’s video

Being Looked After

Along Keppel Highway, a runner decided to play ballads to me which we sang together and kept runners amused. Another runner decided to run with me, ensuring I had enough to eat when we passed the 12km hydration point. Was thankful of the banana as was feeling hungry. A couple of other runners tried to pass me gel packets which I refused and eventually accepted one when someone pressed it into my hand. Tried to eat this at the end and nearly spat it out. Had to bin the rest of it. Still am unable to understand why athletes would suck a mouthful of foul tasting chemicals to give them energy when there are much better alternatives (one day will try to write a post about that).

Ming Ham’s video capturing the route and runners

Calling Out Runners

At about 16km, one runner scrunched up his cup and threw it in front of me into a drain. I couldn’t help it:

“HEY Excuse me this is a drain. You threw your cup into a drain. Put it in the bin for goodness sake. If I can put my rubbish in the bin so can you.”

The runner looked at me a little aghast and carried on unashamedly. Other runners came by and applauded, saying more of us should call out other runners.

Met Martin – a runner who have known for some years at about the 21km mark. He was struggling with head tiredness and I was just generally struggling, now carrying Tring. The hot tarmac seemed to grip Tring more tightly. We ran together for the next 7km. He did try to converse with me, but with the heat beating down, I wanted to focus my energy to moving forward.

Along the East Coast Park (@ 23km), I heard a scrapping sound underfoot. A gel packet was stuck under my shoe! Again I yelled out my grievance:

Who sucked this and chucked it? Be an adult and put your gel packets in the bin! No more running tossers!

Runners looked at me as if I were a runner possessed. Martin continued to run alongside me ignoring my out cries. However he did forge on ahead later on. I was feeling really hot and had slowed down. Apparently it had reached 38 degrees C at some point before it had dripped a couple of rain drops.

Noticeably many runners who would probably complete between 5:30-7 hours were much more conscientious about their own litter and would divert to the dozen of public bins along the route to dispose of their rubbish.

At the end interview what is one word I would describe for this marathon “HOT”. Would definitely recommend any runners that run more than 4 hours carry a water bottle.

Ironman – you did a great job of organising the Singapore Marathon with a much better route. Thank you for listening to us about the toilets which had been better placed so that runners could stay on the concrete paths to enter the toilets and providing splash zones and mist zones to reduce runners throwing cups of water over themselves.

F&N (hydration sponsors)– thank you for listening to us and creating a hydration point in the event village with reusable water dispensers.

Runners – thank you to those who conscientiously placed your rubbish in the bin; to those who brought their own bottle/cup/hydration pack; and to those who separated their rubbish at the end. Thank you to all those who supported us, especially to the Green Run Ambassadors who ran with signs on their back to remind runners about their responsibility.

Volunteers – you were amazing this year. You gave so much more support, energy and enthusiasm.

Green Nudge – thank you for managing all the Green Ambassadors and reducing the waste for this event that would have entered the incinerators. Green Nudge will be forging ahead in 2019 with more initiatives to reduce waste at events and learning journeys to educate our society in why being more mindful of the waste generated matters.


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