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
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