SINGAPORE - For some 140 participants taking part in a heritage race in Balestier on Thursday afternoon, the $30 they paid to take part was well worth the money.
Not only did they learn more about 20 uniquely-Singaporean sites in the neighbourhood, they also helped raise funds for the underprivileged and vulnerable elderly at the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home.
The sites, curated by the National Heritage Board, are part of the Balestier Heritage Trail in central Singapore. It is just one of 11 such trails managed by the Government here.
Stops along the Balestier trail that participants will visit include lesser known destinations, such as the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple, Balestier Point and the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.
Another iconic landmark on the itinerary is the former Shaw Malay Film Studios, where legendary star, P Ramlee, made his films. Usually closed to the public, participants will get the rare chance to visit the site.
The first-of-its-kind race flags off at 1pm at Ramada Singapore's Balestier Ballroom, but the participants, many of whom are geared up in t-shirts, shorts and sneakers, are already raring to go.
To complete the challenge, they have to visit as many sites as possible within two hours to get their "passports", given out at the start point, stamped at each of the 20 locations.
The team or individual that finishes the race with the most number of stamps will win $1,800. Those in second and third places win $1,000 and $500 respectively. The cash prizes are sponsored by travel companies such as Abacus International, Trust International and Infor.
"The Balestier area is one of Singapore's best kept secrets and we want people to learn about how special this precinct is. The race was a good way of bringing out those stories and we are delighted to be the organiser of the first Heritage Race," said Mr Tony Cousens, general manager at Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore At Zhongshan Park, one of those behind the event.
The other organiser is Shy Ventures, a travel consultancy firm owned by Ms Yeoh Siew Hoon, who conceived the idea of having a heritage race. It is also supported by travel-related companies such as Booking.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Organisers hope the race will bring out the stories of the Balestier district, which is rich in history and culture as it dates back more than 180 years.
The first Heritage Race here is part of a series that aims to uncover 20 local stories in 120 minutes anywhere - both in Singapore and the region. It can be adapted to any local environment or theme, and support any local charity that supports the elderly and which is identified by local organisers, said Ms Yeoh.
Those interested in hosting similar heritage races can log on to www.heritagerace.com for more information.