Athletics: Yolo run organisers apologise for 'unpleasant experience'

One runner described it as the "worst ever", with multiple choke points, inaccurate distances and a three-hour-long baggage collection queue.
One runner described it as the "worst ever", with multiple choke points, inaccurate distances and a three-hour-long baggage collection queue. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/BANCHAN86

SINGAPORE - X-Change Republic, the team behind Yolo Run Singapore, has apologised for the "unpleasant experience" that participants of yesterday's event went through, and invited runners to contact them regarding any outstanding issues.

Participants of the event - now into its third edition - had lambasted organisers on social media, voicing their unhappiness over several issues including delayed flag-off times and congested routes.

Inaccurate measurement of the route distance and logistical issues were also among the complaints made on the Facebook pages of both the Yolo Run and X-Change Republic.

There were three categories of the run - a non-competitive 5km race and competitive 10km and 21km races, all of which were flagged off from the F1 Pit Building.

National marathoner Soh Rui Yong, who won the 21km event yesterday, rued the fact that "certain big mistakes sabotaged this event".

In an Instagram post, the two-time SEA Games champion said these mistakes were the delayed start times, poor route planning and inaccurate measurement of route distance.

"From what I understand, the delay was due to difficulties with the Land Transport Authority (or) a water point not being set up on time," said Soh.

"Whatever the case, this has to be something that's squared away way before the race. Standing for 50 minutes at the start line is not conducive for performance."

Didn't win a car today, but managed to win the YOLO Run Half Marathon and walk away with $3000! Happy for the opportunity every day to pursue something I love. Unfortunately, certain big mistakes sabotaged this event. 1) Start time - runners were told to report at the start line by 5am. We were kept waiting there until 5:50am, from what I understand, the delay was due to difficulties with a road obstacle / a water point not being set up on time. Whatever the case, this has to be something that's squared away way before the race. Standing for 50min at the start line is not conducive for performance. 2) Route planning - Despite having to run up stairs at the 4km mark, my bike pacers Hitesh, Fabian William and Lance Tan helped me hold 69min pace up to 15km, before we made a U-turn at Marina Barrage and ran straight into the slower runners. The bike path was 2, maybe 3 people wide. We lost more than a minute from kilometres 16-19 - there was just nowhere to run! Kilometre splits dropped from an average of 3:16/km to 3:48 for kilometre 19. 3) Route distance measurement - A half marathon is 21.1km. My pacers and I got to 21.1km on our GPS devices (70min +), and the finish line was nowhere near. Only got there about 500m later (our GPS signals all reading ~21.6km). Final finishing time was 1:12:42 and by that point I was just glad to be done and under the 1:15:00 $3000 time bonus. I thought for a moment that maybe our GPS devices were all just off, but when Nimesh proceeded to win the 10km category in 24min (more like 7km), I knew the problem lay not with us. This is particularly worrying as the Half Marathon was apparently measured and sanctioned by Singapore Athletics. Route distance simply has to be on point for a high performance event. Today, it was far off. All in all, I'm just happy to be able to train hard, race and have a good time, prizes or not. But when you hype up a big record attempt, the high performance aspects of the race has to be spot on and today, it wasn't. Thank you @AlfaRomeoSingapore for gamely sponsoring the challenge. Cool pic with the car here! #YoloRun2017

Didn't win a car today, but managed to win the YOLO Run Half Marathon and walk away with $3000! Happy for the opportunity every day to pursue something I love. Unfortunately, certain big mistakes sabotaged this event. 1) Start time - runners were told to report at the start line by 5am. We were kept waiting there until 5:50am, from what I understand, the delay was due to difficulties with a road obstacle / a water point not being set up on time. Whatever the case, this has to be something that's squared away way before the race. Standing for 50min at the start line is not conducive for performance. 2) Route planning - Despite having to run up stairs at the 4km mark, my bike pacers Hitesh, Fabian William and Lance Tan helped me hold 69min pace up to 15km, before we made a U-turn at Marina Barrage and ran straight into the slower runners. The bike path was 2, maybe 3 people wide. We lost more than a minute from kilometres 16-19 - there was just nowhere to run! Kilometre splits dropped from an average of 3:16/km to 3:48 for kilometre 19. 3) Route distance measurement - A half marathon is 21.1km. My pacers and I got to 21.1km on our GPS devices (70min +), and the finish line was nowhere near. Only got there about 500m later (our GPS signals all reading ~21.6km). Final finishing time was 1:12:42 and by that point I was just glad to be done and under the 1:15:00 $3000 time bonus. I thought for a moment that maybe our GPS devices were all just off, but when Nimesh proceeded to win the 10km category in 24min (more like 7km), I knew the problem lay not with us. This is particularly worrying as the Half Marathon was apparently measured and sanctioned by Singapore Athletics. Route distance simply has to be on point for a high performance event. Today, it was far off. All in all, I'm just happy to be able to train hard, race and have a good time, prizes or not. But when you hype up a big record attempt, the high performance aspects of the race has to be spot on and today, it wasn't. Thank you @AlfaRomeoSingapore for gamely sponsoring the challenge. Cool pic with the car here! #YoloRun2017

A post shared by Soh Rui Yong 🇸🇬 (@runsohfast) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbWFrtxnoot/

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, X-Change Republic managing partner Alex Loh said a change in course by the event's external consultant owing to "unforeseen obstacles" yesterday morning had led to the half-marathon and 10km routes being affected.

He added: "We take responsibility for the issues faced by all runners today. We will seriously take everyone's feedback into consideration to ensure future issues do not occur.

"We sincerely apologise for the unpleasant experience and invite runners to contact us for any outstanding issues."

One of the participants, Taka Kadano, in a comment on the Yolo Run's Facebook page, lamented the "understaffed water stations" and "limited distance signs".

In addition, some participants were left frustrated by long delays in retrieving their belongings after the race, with some reporting lost bags.

Loh, pointing out that the number of participants had increased from 3,000 in 2015 to 9,000 last year and 15,000 yesterday, added: "To ensure that we were equipped enough to organise the event this year, we engaged an external consultant for the route and operations.

"For future events at (the F1 Pit Building) for a half-marathon, we will review all aspects of this year's event, including the appointment of external route consultants.

"We thank all participants for their participation and feedback."

Despite the barrage of negative comments, participant Goh Yik Chuan took to the Yolo Run Facebook page to praise helpful volunteers and runners.

Said Goh: "Kudos to the fellow participants and volunteers who were helpful, like the guy who helped with a fellow participant's cramps... those who offered advice on how to claim baggage faster and the volunteer who went through (more than) 10 boxes of finisher tees under the hot sun to try and find a replacement size for me."