Having taken part in numerous races, I feel it would be good to have a different race experience by volunteering at one. Hence, I decided to register as a volunteer at this year’s Marina Run. Marina Run is one of the few races where volunteers are publicly sort after. It may also be the only race in Singapore where volunteers are paid a token sum apart from the provision of meals.
Deployment as Road Marshal
This year’s Marina Run took place on the 15 July at the Marina Barrage. The race comprises of 3 categories: 5km, 10 km and 21 km. The half marathon consists of 2 loops of the 10 km route.
Volunteers assembled at 1 pm at the Marina Barrage. We were issued our ‘Event Crew’ tee shirts and assigned into groups performing different tasks, such as manning hydration points, road marshals, race pack collection, and issuing post-race entitlements. I requested to be a road marshal as I wanted to encourage and cheer on the runners. Road marshals were given traffic vests and wands as well.
The earliest flag-off was at 4.30 pm for the 5 km run. The groups manning hydration points set off at 3.15 pm to their designated locations along the race routes. My team of road marshals (for Area A) set off at 4 pm, as there was sufficient time since the 10 km race commenced only at 5.30 pm.
I was deployed at the stairs beside the Skating Rink outside Marina Bay Sands (The Shoppees). My task was to direct the runners up this flight of stairs, where there would be another two marshals to direct the runners towards Bayfront Bridge.
I view my station as critical because had the runners missed these stairs, they would have moved on towards Waterfront Promenade and thus deviating from the race route.
It was thrilling to anticipate and watch the arrival of runners. I did my best to direct them up the flight of stairs while exhorting them to keep going. This was especially meaningful since I am a runner myself and appreciate such gestures of encouragement.
At the same time, I had to look out for runners who may not have noticed me and ran past instead. And since it was a Saturday evening, the areas around the vicinity of MBS were packed with crowds of local residents and tourists, some of whom approached me for directional assistance.
The half marathon commenced at 7.30 pm. The surroundings were dimly lit, and picking out runners from the crowds became a challenge. Runners themselves had to negotiate not only the crowds but also the throngs of cyclists as well.
After the last runners had passed my station upon the 2nd loop, as informed by the race sweeper at 9.30 pm, I sought permission to fall out since I estimated the race would probably end beyond 11.30 pm.
Thus, I did not receive the token sum entitled to volunteers, which I understood to be SGD 20, as it was only given out to the volunteers at the end of the race at the Marina Barrage.
1. There was an instance where the volunteer pacers (on bicycles) shouted at a group of tourists to make way for the lead runners. I think this was uncalled for as this was not a closed-road event, and it was expected there would be large crowds at MBS area during the weekends. A local friend of these tourists reflected his displeasure to me and mentioned it had left a bad impression on his guests.
2. There should preferably be two marshals at critical stations so that if one of the marshals needs to be temporarily relieved, there would still be another marshal to direct the runners. There was an apparent lack of good signage as well.
3. Lastly, I felt the communication on the provisions of meals could have been better. Prior to the event day, volunteers were told lunch and dinner would be provided. But in fact, only dinner was provided. Some volunteers did not consume their own lunch before reporting for duty as they had thought lunch would be provided, as previously communicated.