Ekiden races in Singapore is not really well known among the community and just last weekend Mizuno brought us the 1st Ekiden race in Singapore for the year 2015.
No doubt Ekiden races are not as famous as the regular standard format but is not new after all, Standard Chartered Marathon was the first to bring in this type of race and it proves to be one of the events that first to sell out, after having able to run this type of race, which is also my first, I now wish that there would be more event such as this and gone are the standard races (well not completely) read on to understand why I say so
Ekiden must be confusing to some cause when I told them I am running an Ekiden race, some people went “what?” well anyway
As written in Japanese, Ekiden combines the characters for “station” (駅) and “transmit” (伝). This name was coined by the poet Toki Zemmaro (1885–1980), who was head of the Yomiuri Shimbun’s Social Affairs Department at the time. The original concept of the race hearkens back to Japan’s old Tōkaidō communication and transportation system in which stations were posted at intervals along the road. In the race, each runner on a team runs the distance from one “station” to the next, and then hands off a cloth sash, or tasuki, to the next runner.
Race as Four, Run as one, that was the Mizuno tagline for T-shirt that they have provided and what an awesome tag line it was, Ekiden race brings true meaning to friends running together and that is why I totally recommend running an Ekiden. Ekiden creates this team spirit amongst each other and training together creates a stronger bond amongst runners.
In Japan, Ekiden races are very important for companies as the Tasuki sash potrays their company logo and it is an honor to be representing their company. (How I wish my company would let us train and run under the company name)
This has got to be first time a race was held at the Meadows at Garden by the bay and I was pretty excited to see how they would construct the Matsuri village here in Singapore, but more of the village later..
Upon reaching the venue, all participants will be greeted with this HUGE giant Mizuno shoe, and what a spectacular display it was, can you say photo opportunity?
The race started at 7am for the 21km and ten minutes later for the full marathon, There was more FM runners than the HM which shows that the race had more serious participant, what is important is that the VIP flagged off the racer on time but before all that, we were all treated to a Taiko drums presentation and what a show it was.
I wished I had my camera with me to show you how energetic the whole Japanese Taiko team was beating their drums that morning, when the drums beats on it kinda creates this feeling or even invoke the hearts of the racers standing at the starting line altogether.
There are strategies when it comes to running an Ekiden and before we signed up all of us spoke to each other talking on who will be running as which runner, being the 1st runner definitely has it’s perks but also stress, as a first runner you will not be beaten by the hot weather but you will feel the stress of all the competitive runners at the starting line.
Because there is only about 400 people at the start line, you need to run really fast to catch up if not you will be left behind running alone as there are not many runners on the scene due to the start sequence, once the 2nd and 3rd runners goes out, there will be plenty of runners amongst them,
Praises have to be given out to all the last FM runner because the Sun was at it’s peak bashing down on everyone, the heat can definitely take a toll on everyone. Well at least the beer was waiting for my last runner.
The route that the Mizuno Ekiden have chosen is not new to the runners running around the CBD area and most have already ran the course before, This route is only kind to the 1st and 2nd runner because of the amount of tourist that the 3rd and 4th runner have to endure when it is after 10pm.
My team mates had to dodge hordes of tourist along the Merlion and Esplanade side but for the rest of us we only had to run with the morning runners along this popular route, for me running this route is much more refreshing than the rest of the runs.
Another good point on this race was the water point, on their website they indicated 4 water point, but on actual race there was Pocari and Water Station practically on nearly every 2k or more, I could have sworn I stopped at about 6 of the water station. This is a good thing.
Distance marker was placed on every KM, which actually helps runners like me without a watch and also not forgetting that they also put inspirational Japanese Kanji translation inspiration quote on every market, learn some Japanese that morning. :)
The race is surely a hot and humid one and for the first two runners in the team, we surely could feel the humidity as standing and waiting easily made everyone sweat without any effort, expected of a Singapore weather.
I pity my 3rd and 4th runner because by the time we reach back they would be running the course at around 10am for the 3rd runner and by then the sun was blaring like it had some vengeance.
Experience in Short
The Mizuno Ekiden race was well organised and from the team’s point of view everyone had a great time and even after the was race was over thanks to the race village that they have prepared, the supporters as well as the racers had not only one but plenty of establishment to choose from.
Our hot favourites was from the NANA’s Green tea which we bought our refreshing green tea with Matcha ice-cream for only $8, My favorite has to be the Doutor coffee which taste exactly like the one I had in Tokyo.
and if you are feeling hungry after the race, there is the famous Keisuke Ramen which we also had for only $10, the price was in-fact cheaper on race day then in the restaurant, How I knew was because we all went to the restaurant at Parkway for our post lunch.
Check out the Matsuri Village and all the fun everyone had on that day, Sumo contest amongst runners, Running Gait Analysis from World Of Sports, Name Translation painting, Self painted hand held fan,
Isaac’s 2 Cents worth
In my honest opinion, if this race was ever to be held again, you can bet your ass that I will be the first to sign up and I have checked with a few more other runners and they all said the same thing. Good on you guys Mizuno and Infinitus
I wanna be selfish and say that I do hope this Ekiden would not grow into something big cause if it had grown so big, race organization will be more hectic and less focused towards the runners, This Ekiden got me feeling like a Sunday Picnic at the gardens with Cosplay activity and family all around.
Runners welfare was taken care off and even registration of this event cost $200 for a team which means $50 per person, Lawrence was so surprised that the running T that came with the goody bag was of those quality that was sold in retail store and not some 3rd party cheap cotton.
Running an Ekiden race is not like running a regular race because of the camaraderie that the Ekiden has created in us. Training for it was more fun as it is like running in a close pact of runners creating a good bond of friendship.
Suggestion from isaac
I hope they can improve on working the starting time as it is definitely too hot for the 4th runner to run at 10pm, my suggestion was to put the event in the evening time around 4:30pm and let the race village come to live at night. Heck, why not even throw in a movie at the Bay while you guys are at it.
Please let supporter wait at the ending point where we can cheer on all the runners, we definitely will do better with supporters cheering for us.
Marshall should be more attentive in any event but this was no exception and there was a big gap at the last 8km heading up to the barrage, a few people have mentioned that they gone the wrong route and ran in circles. Marking must be clear if no route Marshall is not around the area.
Thanks for reading and we are all definitely looking forward to next years race.