Runners all pumped up over giant inflatables at Safra event

The giant inflatables in the 5km fun run were a hit with participants, and lines of between five to 10 people formed before each obstacle.
The giant inflatables in the 5km fun run were a hit with participants, and lines of between five to 10 people formed before each obstacle.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Log-shaped steps leading upwards - a familiar sight for many a full-time national serviceman - greeted polytechnic student Kiira Chua yesterday morning at the Safra Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon.

The steps were part of a 5m-tall inflatable mimicking an obstacle in the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Standard Obstacle Course.

In the actual obstacle, called the Apex Ladder, a serviceman, wearing a load-bearing vest, helmet and armed with a rifle, climbs up and down log-shaped steps with gaps between them.

The obstacle, however, took a much tamer form at yesterday's run. The steps were part of a giant inflatable, and scaling it was quite easy for Ms Chua, 18. "It was quite fun. I raced my cousin up," she said. "When you jump on it, you bounce up to the second step, so you just follow the momentum and bounce all the way up."

She was among about 42,000 people who took part in the 24th edition of the event.

The giant inflatable was one of two introduced in the 5km fun run and runners had the choice of navigating them on their run or skipping the obstacles. On the second inflatable, runners teetered across narrow inflated platforms, ducked under a horizontal float and navigated around inflated poles.

The obstacles were popular with the runners and queues of between five and 10 people built up before each obstacle. 

Primary 5 pupil Tan Huai En, who took part in the 5km run with her father, said she enjoyed the second obstacle. She added: "If there were more obstacles, it would be more fun."

Her father, IT systems architect Tan Siah Meng, 45, said: "The obstacles added an element of fun for her. If not, it would be just running and that would have been quite boring for her."

The haze returned last Friday, but the situation improved over the weekend. The 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 65 at 7am yesterday.

The run attracted a record number of 7,000 family members of SAF national servicemen and soldiers this year. This is a 51 per cent increase from 2014.

Quality assurance engineer Jolyn Han, 36, who took part in the 10km run, was one of those not deterred by the slightly hazy condition. She said: "It won't kill. Even when the PSI is more than 100, I still go around catching Pokemon (on the mobile app Pokemon Go)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Runners all pumped up over giant inflatables at Safra event'. Print Edition | Subscribe