GE run a hit with runners

Left: Runners being flagged off along Nicoll Highway yesterday for their 10km race at the 13th edition of the Great Eastern Women's Run. Below: Kasumi Yoshida, 19, crossing the finish line to win the Elite Open 21.1km category.
Runners being flagged off along Nicoll Highway yesterday for their 10km race at the 13th edition of the Great Eastern Women's Run.PHOTO: GREAT EASTERN WOMEN'S RUN
Left: Runners being flagged off along Nicoll Highway yesterday for their 10km race at the 13th edition of the Great Eastern Women's Run. Below: Kasumi Yoshida, 19, crossing the finish line to win the Elite Open 21.1km category.
Kasumi Yoshida, 19, crossing the finish line to win the Elite Open 21.1km category.PHOTO: GREAT EASTERN WOMEN'S RUN

Despite downpour, women and girls enjoy themselves in 13th edition of popular event

A pre-dawn thunderstorm failed to dampen the spirits of Secondary 4 student Natalie How, who was among 14,500 runners to lace up for the Great Eastern Women's Run yesterday morning.

"I think the organisers have done a better job organising this race than others that my family and I have been to," said the 16-year-old, who participated in the 5km run with her mother and her friend.

"My family was deciding whether to take a bus or the train (to the starting point because of the weather delay) but, in the end, we got here on time. I was more cautious during the run and I enjoyed myself."

The 21.1km run was about to be flagged off at 5.15am along Nicoll Highway when the runners were ushered into the National Stadium for shelter before the arrival of a thunderstorm.

The half-marathon was eventually flagged off an hour later at 6.15am, while the 10km run started at 6.45am, 15 minutes behind schedule. The 5km Live Great! Fun Run, 2km Mummy + Me Run, 110m Princess Dash and 110m Sprint Challenge were unaffected.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu flagged off the 5km run, and also participated in the race, while Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan and Great Eastern group chief executive officer Khor Hock Seng were in attendance as well.

While some anxious runners wrote on the event's Facebook page to ask for updates during the weather delay, organisers said the participants were kept updated via social media platforms and text messages, as well as announcements at the National Stadium.

Runners whom The Straits Times spoke to yesterday were generally happy with their race experience.

"The weather didn't affect me; in fact I like to run when there is a slight drizzle," said 56-year-old Patsy Lim, who took part in the 10km run.

"I thought it might be cancelled, but it was good that it went on. I was a bit cautious on the wet roads and it helped that the weather was very cool during the run.

"But the organisers should really consider having categories for veterans such as myself. I am competing with people who are much younger than me."

Japanese runner Kasumi Yoshida won the Elite Open 21.1km race in 1hr 19min 1sec, while Mok Ying Rong won the local Elite Closed 21.1km race in 1:27:21.

"With the rain, I thought it might be challenging but, as I ran, it was comfortably cool," said the 19-year-old in Japanese. "The weather is different from Japan, being more humid, so I didn't know what to expect.

"In the first half, I was able to run aggressively, but the later half was difficult. I'm delighted to have come in first."

The all-women run, which is into its 13th year, raised $51,500 in support of two women-related causes - the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Women's Health Research and Education Fund.

But runners Cindy Ong and Jemaine Goh said they ran into issues during the race.

Both told ST they took part in the 21.1km, but ran extra distances of between 4km and 8km after their group of about 10 runners was allegedly misdirected to the 10km route near the F1 Pit Building. They had not notified the race organisers of their problems when they spoke to ST yesterday.

"I am a bit disappointed, I was aiming for a personal best and a position - whether a top 10 or top five," said Ong, 35.

Goh, the sister of national marathoner Jasmine Goh, reckoned she ran an extra 7-8km and did not complete the race. A similar incident happened last year when Filipino runner Mary Joy Tabal, the SEA Games marathon champion, was pointed in the wrong direction in her half-marathon.

"We are aware of the incident and are in touch with the said runners on this matter," said a statement from the organisers.

Goh, 28, said: "I don't think it was the organisers' fault, I thought they did quite well. I actually love the GE run and would want to join again next year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'GE run a hit with runners'. Print Edition | Subscribe