Why Categories are important in Running Posted on October 9, 2018

By Pramod Kukanur

Picture 1 – In Hong Kong Marathon, you have Masters and Senior Masters for half and full marathon race.

In recent past few races in Singapore, we found that, we have one or two races, using the word ‘category’ in the registration of race to woo runners to take part in 5km competitive race, instead of putting ‘Fun Run’. It is a norm that people feel that fun run is not a competitive run and it is difficult to get a personal best time in the run.

A current TOP winner  in this year’s POSB race, told, “In one race, the 5km was written as category and not fun run in this year’s Great Eastern race. So, I registered for the race thinking that it was a competitive run. I had to also pay a sum of money.” “Like others, I was also conned into paying for competitive race money.” “Only when I collected my number tag, I was told that particular category 5km, was for Fun Run.” “It dampened my enthusiasm as I have put in time, money and effort for training only to be told that I was not running competitive and the race was competitive for 10km and for half-marathon race category.” “I had sacrificed another race for this one and I felt cheated.” It was found that not one, but two runners had to go through this situation. 

The mentioned top POSB winner’s Friend, I talked about earlier also told, “This happened last year too, I was told to take part in one of the ‘category’. So, I chose 5km as there was no Fun Run mentioned in the computer. Only upon collection, I realised that the category that I was supposed to run was Fun Run, and it does not have a category.”

Thus, a category, in runner’s dictionary means competition and not fun run. Organisers must not do this kind of thing that shows no integrity on part of the organisers. It is wise for government to step to ensure fairness, and that there is no cheating in this.

Some were alright on the idea that the ‘competitive’ run is actually a Fun Run. A lady, told this year’s POSB Run winner, “So long, I have a tag and get a personal best time, I am happy.” However, when she was told on how organisers sometimes will shout, “This is a Fun Run, please wait 2-3min for traffic to flow and then we will allow you to cross.” Thus, the gun and nett time will be much slower. Some officials were seen saying, “This is a Fun Run, whether you start in front or right behind the crowd, it is ok and the same, so please go behind instead, as it is safer and you have more space.”

Moreover, the categories, in races, do not have any provision for older people like how the CSC Run has. It is important to make older people to run as well and have categories for them as well, like 40 to 50 years old, or 51 to 60 years old categories. A gentleman told me, “… Then how on earth is the athletics fraternity supporting active aging? We need a running person to serve as a role model for others who runs the talk.”

Many races in Singapore collect huge sum of money from registration, and running has become a business, rather than improving one’s well being, as the category of prizes are also substandard for older people and this problem or issue needs some attention, as the athletics fraternity need to really support active aging by providing the support, not just showing lip service alone. Hence, my suggestion is to have different categories and it is important for prizes to be lucrative for all categories.