SINGAPORE – Rachel See won the Great Eastern Women’s Run (GEWR) Elite 21.1km race on Sunday but it was not just her successful title defence that was a source of joy and relief.
The event also marked the return of the traditional road race for the first time in three years.
It was something that she had missed after the 2020 edition was cancelled owing to the pandemic while the following year’s event saw solely the elite-only half-marathon, which featured 15 runners, held in a physical format. But no roads were closed and the participants started and ended their race at the OCBC Square at the Singapore Sports Hub, with the route taking them along East Coast Park in a loop.
Sunday’s edition returned to familiar ground, beginning at Nicoll Highway and finishing at the National Stadium. The other races – 5km, 10km and 2km for mothers and daughters aged five to 12 – which were virtual last year, were also back to an in-person format.
Said See, who finished in 1hr 22min 7sec, ahead of Jasmine Teo (1:24:02) and Vanessa Lee (1:25:30): “It’s special in the sense that it’s a women’s race and they really make the effort to hold this race. I remember last year it was back and it was the first physical race and they really did up the thing very nicely for us, so we felt very privileged and touched.
“This year they still held it for us. Although there’s no 21.1km for the public, they still held it (the elite race) for us, and it’s not easy. There’s a lot of coordination to do with the marshals and everything, there’s a lot of effort, so I’m very thankful.”
There was a carnival atmosphere inside the stadium to keep the 4,000 participants entertained, with the race village boasting an inflatable slide, as well as massage and photo booths. The activities included a fitness dance session and stations where runners could get sticker tattoos and make mosaic and charm bracelets.
Teacher Vethanayake Ramachandran, who had participated in previous editions of the GEWR, was happy to see that it was business as usual once again.
The 28-year-old had tried virtual races during the pandemic but felt the experience was not the same.
“It’s pretty cool when you see women running together, it’s empowering. I love the fact that it’s for women, it’s a more comfortable environment,” said Vethanayake, who took part in the 5km category.
“Throughout the run, there were other runners encouraging each other. I’ve taken part in other events but I like this because I feel like I can be myself and push myself to get a better timing.”
First-time participant Faith Ford, 17, also enjoyed the experience of running alongside others in her first competitive 10km race.
The Victoria Junior College student, who finished first, said: “Usually, I run on my own so it’s really fun to have company. It was quite nice and it was my first time running this route.”
Housewife Nur Diyana Abbas, 34, who took part in the 2km Mummy + Me run with her six-year-old daughter Aishiqa Bella, said: “It was a good experience and it motivated us to see other families with kids. Before the run, she (Aishiqa) said, ‘I cannot (do it)‘, but she finished faster than me. My other children are boys, so this is also bonding time for us.”