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Wan's Column - The Evolution of the Pacesetters 15km

After having stepped down as President of Pacesetters Athletic Club, Malaysia last year and as advisor this year, it is a nice feeling of being invited to become the Race Director for the New Balance Pacesetters 15km 2006 on 21st May 2006. I have always been very nostalgic of this event as I am the person who conceptualized it and turning it into reality in 2003 with the inaugural Nike Pacesetters 15km 2003. Therefore, you can understand why I would not pass out a chance to continue to be part of this event, even though it deprives me the chance to experience the event as a runner. In the first two years, I was the organizing chairman cum race director; I had one hundred and one things to take care. During the two initial years, the Executive Committee was less experienced, doing it for the first time. The inexperience was adequately compensated by the very strong passion to present an event far better than the run-of-the-mill-run as I would call it. We have one of these runs almost every Sunday during the 5 months of intense competitions.

This year my job did not start till two Sundays before the event. All the pre-work was superbly carried out by organizing chairman and President of the club, Munning Jamaludin and his team. The vests were made ready very early, about 2 months before the event and it was issued with the bibs upon registration. I requested for two dedicated meetings with the Executive Committee, the immediate two Sundays before the event to ensure that each Executive Committee member has a specific role to play with the more experienced members playing a more dominant role and the rooky members playing a supporting role. I call this simple tried and tested apprenticeship ala PACM. I requested specifically for my reliable Chief Route Marshal, Law Lai Huat to be drafted into the team Other than Lai Huat, I requested for no one else as I am confident the Executive Committee are able to handle the event. In the two meetings, I gave specific area of responsibilities to each of the members with key functions having two members taking charge with a chief and a deputy. One week before the event, we took the team to check out the route, the PACM way. We did not consume petrol, we did a run at 6.30am and we are satisfied that the route will be well received by the runners. I ran the route twice, on both Sundays that we had our meetings.

This year we experienced a record registration, 1,470 exceeded the previous year 1,260. Judging from the names in the database, I see a high level of repeat customers. Almost 45% of the participants were from club members. A very encouraging response is we had 106 coming in from Singapore, made up of Singaporeans and other expatriates staying in Singapore. Two each flew in from Canada and Hongkong. More than 1,230 completed the event or a healthy turnout rate of about 84%. Our choice of the venue at Padang Merbuk was a good one or actually no choice as our previous venue, Tasik Perdana (Tapak A) is under renovation. The working condition at Padang Merbuk is more conducive as we shut out the entire car-park to avoid using the notorious soggy field as the finish area. It was a wise decision even it did not rain. Our finish area has a clear view of runners coming in at their last 500 metres and we could check out the names of the leading runners from our master list when they got into the car-park 150 metres from the finish line. This location advantage allowed us to call out the leading runners’ names as they crossed the finish line. That has allowed a slightly semi-professional commentary on the race. Of course it is a long way from the standard of the 2 highly charged professional DJs at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

The event went on schedule from start till end with the prize giving and lucky draw. I was surprise that I was not tired at all, perhaps the shady working area and the fact that I do not carry the burden of being the organizing chairman. The event has a potential to go beyond 2,000 runners and some minor improvements are needed on some areas. The two key upgrading needed are;

1. using timing chips and
2. have online registration and payments for the runners.

Once these two last pieces can be fitted in, this event could rank along with some of the international events in the region. This event along with the Pacesetters 30km are two events the club could develop into two winning franchises just like what the New York City Marathon is to the New York Road Runners.

On my part I felt very satisfied that the event has grown from strength to strength. The practice of the club to conduct a survey on a sample of 100 runners is a positive effort towards improvements, no serious issues that we were not aware. I feel the club has attained a high degree of capabilities and professionalism in event management. I feel my future role in this event as Race Director is now optional. Perhaps, I get to run the next year’s event on 20th May 2007, the 23rd Anniversary of the club!

Wan Yew Leong
1st June 2006



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