What happens when people get lost in a race? Posted on October 25, 2018

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Picture 1 – A few years back, I ran in Olive Run, the marshallers were there, all was good but some did not know the finish point.

I am writing some things that will assist organisers to focus on organising a good race. I will write part by part, for example, water points, direction of run, route etc.


Picture 2 – Organiser’s Focus – The first and foremost think to plan is to run correct route

In CSC Run, a number of things went right – immediate time were printed out from the computer by individuals themselves, who have finished the race, water points were adequate and well covered etc. Only some things could improve in the race, for example, like briefing before the race, on the route etc. Here, I will discuss slowly.


Picture 3- I remember that some race, the race is organised very well, clever planning.

Firstly, I was amazed that Metasports has put up the CSC Race reviews in Facebook, which I believe is a positive step. If one wants to excel, reflections will help one to do things better the next time, irregardless it is a businessman, sportsman, or a runner, or even an organiser. Good organisers, I should say, have reflections and feedback, so that they can work on the shortfalls to work on, so that their organisation stands as excellent, for other race organisers to follow.

I read each and every feedback and in the Facebook on CSC Run. I feel that sometimes a summary of few race where I took wrong route may help one to understand how fed up the public can be. Some, I have brought it up to the organisers themselves and they have made some changes to improve the race.

In one Army Half-Marathon race, in the past, I remember missing a turn, and the marshaller was there, but there was no shouting of him to go the right direction. As he kept quiet, we ran the wrong direction. Only when we were about 100m away, he called us back, and screamed on top of his voice. One of the runner, in the pack actually shouted some vulgarities. A positive event had gone negative. The pack was the front pack and the runners had to turn and run back 100m extra, again, and go back to the correct route. The outcome was, some good runners were distracted with this and they fell back. Overall, we ran 200m extra because of the marshaller’s mistake. At that time, I had only tank for the 21.1km only, not more, as I came back from my further studies, and I was prepared to run precisely 21.1km.

The organisers must tell the marshallers to communicate loudly which route we should take and be proactive rather than stand or sit passively. In CSC Run, two cyclist told us,” The park connector is that side.” That is not marshalling. The cyclist should say, “Wrong route! Please run that side, park connector is that side, ” and to keep repeating, and it must be much louder in the outside environment, not the marshaller talking to himself.

Once a front person run correctly, the rest will follow and all will run correctly. However, there will be breaks, and marshaller must be there to show the direction, actively, using gestures like hands. If there are no marshallers at crucial points, the race will see a big screw up. In CSC Run, some runners ran on a wrong route and by doing this they could have ended up somewhere else and not at the finish point. In this race, towards the last 4-5km, the runners ran extra, but it was a parallel route, so the people ran few hundred metres extra.

If they had the money, they could take taxi to go back, provided the belonging is not with the organiser’s locker service. If not, they may resort to run additional 5-7km extra and curse at the organiser before they go back home for making them to go through the ordeal of limping to the finish. I have seen severe limping when this takes place.

Picture 4 – In Gold Coast 10km and Hong Kong 10km, it is hard to go wrong route due to clever planning by the organisers

In another race, in distant past, as I know, my friend and I were the favourites to win. The top Gurkha runners were behind us. There was no marshaller and this happened at Sentosa, and we ran somewhere where it was a dead end and the top runner suddenly shouted,” Wrong route! wrong route!” and he alerted all not to waste extra energy. What happened was the organiser was told to apologise by the top runner. Finally, the organiser relented and apologised for making the top runner to lose the race. Also the winner of the race was not really the real winner, but was lucky person who went wrong route and by chance the winner won. This is absurd and it is happening in Singapore time and again, non stop. I believe that someone needs to come in to ensure a good race.

As for the public, once a few of us went to see a group of organisers and it was on marathon. We spoke up on some public who were runners and they took a wrong turn and ran about 4km short. However, they were given the medals. The runners complained to me that they trained so hard for the race. In order to enable the people not to finish very late, the organiser just simply gave a short cut for them so that one can finish earlier. Many runners who were braving the heat and humidity to complete the race were deprived of doing the exact distance and were diverted to make things easy. Hence they were upset with the organisation of the race, as some were first timers and they did not feel actualising the race. It means that they did not feel the ‘finisher’ feeling, as they want to be honest to their friends on telling them that they completed their first marathon and to tell the time taken to complete.

Edited by Tan Mariviv