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Novelty runs are hot in Singapore, plus 10 runs to check out

There are more novelty runs in Singapore, which are drawing runners out for the experience

Singapore is a nation of avid runners, judging by the proliferation of marathons, fun runs and races on the event calendar.

Seven months into the year, about 60 runs have taken place and at least 40 more are locked in till the end of the year.

As more runs are introduced each year, the options get quirkier. This is because organisers are moving beyond the classic competitive model and tapping into a new market of amateur runners out for a good time.

Participants can now bounce across giant inflatables, get blasted with UV neon glow powder or meet popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

Typically 5km or less in distance, these fun runs are not so much about racing to the finish line, but about enjoying the experience.

Ms Michelle Ng, marketing manager at events management company Pink Apple, says 60 per cent of the runs it holds are fun runs. Pink Apple specialises in organising sports events.

Over the years, the company has introduced new runs such as the Batman V Superman Run and My Little Pony Friendship Run, where comic and cartoon characters are mascots in the race.

Participants are willing to fork out money for the fun run events too. At times costlier than a competitive run, registration for a fun run typically starts at $50 and can go up to more than $100, with the promise of goodie bags containing exclusive merchandise.

Consumers are willing to stump up as they may feel that the fee is justifiable, says Dr Dianna Chang, a lecturer in the marketing programme at SIM University's School of Business.

She adds: "Runners are paying for the experience and they also get souvenirs."

But the running scene is getting crowded.

One challenge is picking the right event date and venue, says Mr Jeffrey Foo, managing director of Infinitus Productions, organiser of The Straits Times Run In The City 2016, Great Eastern Women's Run and Illumi Run.

Fighting for sponsorship is another battle, says Mr Elvin Ting, managing director of Orange Room, organiser of the upcoming Skechers Blacklight Run, a 5km night run where participants are showered with neon powder that glows under UV light.

He says: "Everyone is fighting to work with the same few companies so we need to offer fresh ideas that stand out."

Organisers say that on average, a six-figure sum is the minimum amount needed to hold a run.

Nonetheless, more people continue to sign up for runs each year. Ms Ng of Pink Apple notes that the average number of runners signing up for the company's events last year rose to 7,500 from 7,000 in 2014, and 6,300 in 2013.

The largest marathon in town, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, had an attendance of 50,000 in each of the last two editions.

New organisers are entering the scene too. JRL Concepts, the company that manages website JustRunLah, is co-organising its first run, The Performance Series, this year.

The concept is, instead of signing up for one run, participants can sign up for a bundle of five runs spread out throughout the year in different settings.

Some of the locations are far away from the typical marathon venues of Marina Bay and East Coast Park.

So far, two of the runs have taken place at Coney Island and Punggol Waterway in May and at Jurong Lake Park last month.

The company's director Liu Zhiyong says: "People are always hungry for new experiences."


Which run should you join?

The non-traditionalist runner

BounceOFF!

What: At this race, which takes place at Marina South Pier in November, participants have to climb, slide and bounce on huge inflatable obstacles such as a gigantic slide or a mattress with "humps".

The aim is to have maximum bouncy fun along a 3km route.

The minimum height requirement for the race is 130cm. Younger children can play in the BounceOFF! Bazaar, which features smaller inflatables such as a "soft" 8m-high rock climbing wall.

There will also be a food fair, FeastOFF!, offering various cuisines. The event is open to the public for free.

The first BounceOFF! was to have been held in October last year, but it was postponed to March this year because of the haze. Undergraduate Walter Wong, 23, who was at the first BounceOFF!, will be returning for this latest edition. He says: "These huge inflatables allow me to relive my childhood memories of playing in bouncy castles."

The organiser expects 10,000 people to turn up.

Where: Marina South Pier When: The BounceOFF! race is on Nov 12, 2 to 11pm; BounceOFF! Bazaar and FeastOFF! are on Nov 12 and 13 with the timing to be confirmed

Cost: Early-bird price of $75 till Aug 4 for the race. Entry to the bazaar is free with a race ticket. After that, it will be $98. Entry to the bazaar alone is $48 Info: Registration closes once tickets sell out. Go to www.bounceoff.com.sg

Electric Run Recharged 

What: After a hiatus last year, 5km night race-cum-dance party Electric Run returns to Singapore and with a cool, new gadget.

Participants each strap on an illuminating Electroband, an LED bracelet that blinks in sync with music that changes in different zones.

Prepare to party through seven courses that are decorated with light structures in the shape of mega teddy bears or flashing arches. Post-run, participants can hit the dance floor. There is also a light show synced to the Electroband.

Created in the US in 2012, the Electric Run has been held in more than 30 cities across 19 countries. 

Where: Marina Barrage When: Sept 3, 6pm Cost: $85 for standard ticket and $115 for deluxe that also includes LED shutter shades, foam baton and glow party kit. Children aged three and younger run for free Info: Registration will stay open until the week of the event or when tickets are sold out. Go to www.electricrun.sg

The Color Run Singapore 2016 

What: Probably the biggest fun run to date, The Color Run has travelled to more than 200 cities in 40 countries since its first event in 2011.

Participants start the 5km run in a white shirt and are periodically doused in coloured powder. They cross the finish line looking like they ran through a rainbow.

Now in its fourth edition here, The Color Run has attracted more than 15,000 runners each time in the last two editions. Where: Palawan Green, Sentosa Beach Station When: Aug 20 and 21, 4pm Cost: $65 for regular runners, who will receive a limited-edition T-shirt, and $98 for deluxe runners who will also receive sunglasses and socks. Children aged three and younger run for free Info: Registration closes on Aug 1. Go to thecolorrun.com.sg


The part-time runner, full-time thrill seeker

Skechers Blacklight Run Singapore 

What: In this run whose concept originated from the United States, participants are blasted with non-toxic UV neon powder along the 5km route.

There are three zones, each with a different colour: green, pink and orange. The powder will glow under these special lights.

After the race, there is an after- party for runners to boogie till the wee hours.While the crowd dances, powder will be showered on them every 15 minutes.

Polytechnic student Clarissa Tan, 18, who had been curious about fun runs for a while, signed up for the Blacklight Run.

She says: "It's one of the newest fun runs in Singapore and I like the idea of glowing in the dark."

Where: Palawan Beach, Sentosa When: Oct 29, 5.30pm

Cost: Early-bird prices of $50 or $80 for a VIP pack that includes LED shutter shades, glow-in-the- dark tattoo and a merchandise pack worth $50. Limited to the first 3,000 who register by Aug 13. Children under the age of six run for free Info: Registration closes on Oct 9 or when all 7,000 slots are taken. Go to www.blacklightrun.sg


Families

SpongeBob Run Singapore

What: Say hello to cartoon character runs. First there was Hello Kitty, then My Little Pony, followed by Snoopy and now SpongeBob SquarePants.

The lovable yellow sponge is now the theme of a 5km run next month.

Participants will be flagged off by a SpongeBob mascot as they embark on a mission in search of his best friend, Patrick Star.

Along the route that has been designed to resemble the underwater city of Bikini Bottom from the cartoon, fans can spot the characters' iconic homes - SpongeBob's pineapple house, Patrick's brown rock and Squidward's Moai-shaped home.

Registration for the run costs $49.90 and $59.90. The pricier option has a more substantial goodie bag that includes an exclusive SpongeBob plush toy and a bright yellow drawstring bag with the character's face, on top of the medal and T-shirt.

There is also an 800m Kids Dash for the tots.

Stay-at-home mum Mary Heng, 39, is training for the 5km run with her daughter, 11, and son, eight, who are fans of the animated series.

She says: "We get to bond while training. It's also a good way to get them out of the house." 

Where: Siloso Beach Walk, Sentosa When: Aug 6, 4pm

Cost: $49.50 or $59.50. Children below 0.9m tall enter for free. Info: Registration closes on Aug 4. Go to www.sbrun.sg


The serial runner 

The Performance Series - Race #3

What: You can sign up for not one but five races when you register with The Performance Series.

The series gives runners a schedule of five races spread out throughout the year in different settings - island, lake, city, reservoir and farm. The locations are revealed only closer to the race date.

The first two events were held at Punggol Waterway and Coney Island, and Jurong Lake Park. The next one on Aug 7 will be at Gardens by the Bay.

The bundle deal is no longer available but runners can sign up for the Oct 9 and Dec 18 races individually.

For each location, there are three categories - 2.5km, 5km and 10km - to appeal to both serious and amateur runners.

Runners who complete all five races will have five medals that can be pieced together to look like Singapore on the map.

One such runner gunning for all the medals is operations manager Ivan Lau, 36.

He signed up for the bundle pack ($230) because he enjoys the fact that the runs are held in different settings.

He says: "It's a different concept and a good chance for me to explore other locations. Normally, the other runs take place within the city."

Where: Gardens by the Bay When: Aug 7, 6.30am

Cost: $35 for 2.5km, $45 for 5km and $55 for 5km Info: Registration closes on July 24. Go to www.theperformanceseries. com


The consummate runner

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 

What: The most well-attended marathon in Singapore with an average of 50,000 participants, the Standard Chartered Marathon has five categories of races that draw runners from all around the world.

The most challenging is the 42km full marathon with a grand prize of $50,000 each for the top male and female runner.

If the full marathon is too daunting, there are four other categories: the 21km half marathon; the Ekiden, where a relay team of six complete 42km; the 10km race that is also open to wheelchair-users; and the 800m Kids Dash.

A key change to this year's edition is the starting point for the Kids Dash and half marathons.

Participants will be waved off in Orchard Road instead of Sports Hub and Sentosa.

The marathons will still end at the Padang.

For serial marathoner and bank officer Justina Zeng, 33, the Stanchart run is a must-do. She signs up for 25 runs yearly and has participated in the Stanchart Marathon twice.

She says: "It's the biggest run here and a good chance for me to catch up with my running friends." 

Where: Orchard Road for the Kids Dash, Ekiden, full and half-marathon. Esplanade Drive for the 10km race When: Dec 3 and 4. Start-off time has yet to be announced

Cost: Super early-bird tickets are sold out except for the Ekiden category, which costs a flat rate of $460 for a team of six. Registration now starts at $20 for Kids Dash (aged 13 and below), $65 for 10km, $75 for half-marathon and $85 for full marathon Info: Registration closes on Nov 25 or when slots run out. Go to www.marathonsingapore.com


The patriotic runner

One Nation Run 2016

What: Kick off the National Day festivities on Aug 9 with a casual 5km run or walk amid the lush greenery at Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay.

At the inaugural One Nation Run, runners will have to wave a mini Singapore flag as the organisers are trying to break the national record for most number of participants running with a Singapore flag.

After the run, there will be a mass kite-flying session on the green rooftop of Marina Barrage and a carnival where participants can play old-school games such as five stones and chapteh.

For procurement executive Klessis Lee, 38, this is the perfect opportunity to rally her two girls, aged seven and 10, to go for a new experience. She says: "I like to go for family-friendly runs as the kids can be involved too and the One Nation Run is a new way to celebrate National Day."

Where: Marina Barrage When: Aug 9, 8am Cost: $64.20 an adult, $53.50 a child aged 12 and below, $235.40 for a family package (two adults and two children) Info: Registration closes on Monday. Go to www.onenationrun.sg


The hardcore runner

Craze Ultra

What: The tagline for this ultra endurance race is "Are you nuts?" - and the distances reflect that.

There are four categories: 43km, 74km, 101km and 100 miles (161km). It is one of a handful of races in Singapore that offer such long distances.

All runners will start and finish at MacRitchie Reservoir. Depending on the race distance, they will run along several scenic areas in Singapore such as Woodlands Waterfront, Yishun Dam and Lorong Halus Wetland in Punggol. There are checkpoints along the way to ensure that runners are on the right path.

Participants have a maximum of 32 hours to complete the run and there are no medals in this race. Those who complete the 101km and 163km will get a souvenir but otherwise, the organisers cheekily state that the best prize is one's achievement.

Where: Reservoir Deck, MacRitchie Reservoir When: Sept 3 and 4, flag off at 7am on Sept 3 for all categories or 6pm on Sept 4 for the 43km, 74km and 101km runs 

Cost: From $65 for 43km, $110 for 74km, $170 for 101km and $275 for 100 miles (161km) Info: Registration closes on July 24. Go to crazeultra.blogspot.sg


The altruistic runner

Ground Zero - Run For Humanity 2016

What: This charity run allows the participants to walk or run in the shoes of a disaster survivor.

In the 5km Relief Aid Challenge, runners will take on an extra load of 5 to 7kg in the form of a relief pack filled with non-perishable food items such as rice and sugar all the way to the finish line.

To create a more "authentic" atmosphere", sand sections have been added to the route.

Organised by home-grown humanitarian organisation Mercy Relief, the run was created to give a glimpse of the experience of disaster victims, says executive director Zhang Tingjun.

Proceeds will go to Mercy Relief’s general fund which supports their Singapore operations.

Ms Zhang says: "We hope runners can experience the challenges in a survivor's journey through a simulated experience of the disaster 'ground zero' situation."

Participants in the 10km Race Against Time will have to sprint to complete the run within 80 minutes.Runners who want to kick it up a notch can opt to carry a relief pack.

Parents can sign their kids up for the new 500m category. Each parent and child pair will work together to carry a relief pack weighing 1kg.

Where: Casuarina Grove, East Coast Park When: Aug 14, 7.30am

Cost: From $58 for 10km, $63 for 5km and $70 for a parent-and-child (aged three to 12) pair for 500m Info: Registration closes on Aug 7. Go to www.groundzerorun.com

Correction Note: This article has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Run for fun'. Print Edition | Subscribe