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Wan's Column - Boutique Events & Event Managers

Two years ago during the Sponsorship Ceremony between PACM and its sponsors, the newly elected president, Munning Jamaludin made an announcement of wanting to have a series of 10km run across the country. As the past president and a member of the Exco for 2005/06, I could understand the desire but at the same time I have my reservation. I understand the challenges involved in organizing an event for the public and having it outside Klang Valley will have added logistic issues. We are not professional event organizers yet and most of us have full time day jobs. It would be quite impossible for us to run around the country organizing events.

Let’s take one step back to understand Munning’s vision here which is also my vision. We both like to see a series of runs organized across the country by running clubs. However, at that time only PACM and Ipoh Road Runners were in the game. PACM has the New Balance Pacesetters 15km and the adidas FTAAA Pacesetters 4 x 3km road relay while Ipoh Road Runners were doing their annual 10km run long before PACM got their act together. Towards the end of 2005, PACM organized the Marathon Forum and invited the organizer of the successful Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon to share their experience with us. We invited event owners, sponsors and running clubs to participate in the forum. After the forum, we started talking to various groups informally, encouraging them to have an event of their own, at least once a year. We do not wish to claim credit here but what PACM and Ipoh Road Runners were doing is an inspiration to fellow runners across the country, the sheer dedication of their members to promote the sports they love. There is an unwritten gesture between PACM and Ipoh Road Runners to support one another’s event.

This year, we started to see some results and we have several events started by various clubs and groups. I have made an effort to support most of these events by these smaller groups by taking part and giving some words of encouragement. RunnersMalaysia as an information portal will help spread the news by posting these events on our website without charge. I feel this is the least I could do as I know most of these aspiring event organizers.

Great Eastern Pacesetters 30km
This event started humbly as a 30km Practice Run as part of the KL International Marathon Peer Support Program organized by PACM on 19 January 2003. It was Yew Chee Chung who called me a week earlier and suggested that our proposed 30km practice run should be properly organized with drinks stations thrown in. I took up that challenge and got the volunteers organized, the turnout was fantastic (132 runners) and the runners appreciated what was done for them (Footloose February 2003, President’s Column) Thereafter, the 30km Practice Run before a key marathon event became the club’s standard feature. The number of runners grew to more than 200 in the subsequent 30km Practice Runs we organized. We felt it is time to turn this practice run into a full fletched 30km Road Race in 2005 but the failure to secure a title sponsor prevented me from doing this as my swan song. It was my successor, Munning Jamaludin and his team who secured the Great Eastern sponsorship to enable the inaugural Great Eastern Pacesetters 30km 2006 to proceed in January 2006. I was honored to have served as its race director, arguably the most difficult event we had ever done due the length of the route and the duration of the event of more than 4 hours. On 20 January 2008, we will be having the third edition of this event and will be celebrating Great Eastern’s 100th Anniversary.

Mizuno Wave Run
This event was started in 2005 by Mizuno and PACM was hired as the organizer. I was a little skeptical of doing this event as we have to carry out the technical part of it; the timing of the runners. Prior to this event, we have been using FTAAA as technical partner even in our own Pacesetters 15km. Another issue I was not sure was that whether PACM should be a hired event organizer, given that our hands are full with our own club’s affairs and events. I was proven wrong as this event (into its third year) turned out to be an important source of revenue for the club now, after losing our club’s sponsors, namely Milo and Genting Bhd.

KRI Annual 12km Run
This is probably the most friendly event for veterans and senior veterans. For runners above 40 years, there is a category for every 5 years. Last Sunday 988 runners took part and needless to say, the biggest groups are the veterans, make up 59% of the runners. As announced by their president, Mr. Chong Him Shoong, next year KRI will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary and it is promised that it will be a big event. KRI is also prepared to experiment, last year they did a cross country run, starting from the Lost World of Tambun. They also use an internet registration system to cut down administration work. (website – www.ipohroadrunners.org)


Our 3 ladies from KL, Carol Low, Agnes Chin & Clara Bong getting 6th,
7th & 8th in the 45-49 women category at the Ipoh Road Runners 12km
2007.

Like PACM, KRI is also sought after to organize events for others. Two of the events they organized were the Perak Chamber of Commerce Century Run 2007 and UTAR Charity Run 2006. These may not be annual events but I have included them in this article to illustrate the services of running clubs can be used to organize one off events.

Chinwoo Biathlon
I believe this event has been around for nearly 5 years. It is an entry level event for individuals who want to do multi-sports. The event is an 800m swim in the pool followed by a 7km run, ideal for entry level competitors going into multi-sports. I took part in the 2004 and 2006 event. This event is made possible by the commitment of 2 individuals, Don Khor and Lester Thum, both PACM members who are active with Chinwoo Athletic Club. Due to the restriction by the number of lanes in the pool, this event set a cap of 100 participants only. At the time of writing this, all 100 places have been taken up.

Kuantan TC Run
This year’s run organized by the Kuantan PACM Area Group with Tan Wah Sing as Group Leader was a great success with 500 taking part. This event was also organized in 2005. The Kuantan Area Group during the era of Ms Soh as Group Leader has also organized the Kuantan Nature Run in October 2003 and the Kuantan Half Marathon in October 2002. The Kuantan Area Group has been very active participating in most events around the country and they are also capable organizer. However, they feel they should only organize an event once in two years. I am trying to persuade them to have their event as an annual event; alternating between a road run and a nature run. I shall see if I am persuasive enough.

New Balance Klang Pacers 12km
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that the Klang Pacers are doing their inaugural 12km Run on 2 September 2007. I called up their Exco Member, Lawrence Ng and offer to post their entry form on RunnersMalaysia’s website. I did not register for this event as I was committed to the TFMB Countryside Run in Batu Pahat on the same date. By the time, I knew of the postponement of the Batu Pahat Run, this event was closed. They exceeded their target of 600 runners and from the feedback of the runners, it was well organized. I congratulated Ng and his team and urge them to keep the event annual.

Pacesetters Breakfast Run at Klang, Sabak Bernam and Putra Jaya
To promote organization skills amongst its area groups and avoid taxing the Executive Committee too much, PACM has been getting its area groups to focus on breakfast runs. The Klang Run in 2006 and the Sabak Bernam Run (June 2007 Footloose) in 2007 was part of the annual Brooks Pacesetters Bonding Run series. The Putra Jaya Run (Footloose September 2007) was to introduce the new area group in Putra Jaya. All 3 events were well organized by the respective area groups. These events brought out the organizing skills of the area groups and team work. Keep this going and let other Area Groups have their chance as well.


Alison Munro & Ivy Lui enjoying their run at the Brooks Fun Run at FRIM

Brooks Fun Run at FRIM
This event was the first by RunnersMalaysia as the co-organizer. Brooks do not have an event to their name, although they are sponsors for many events. The objective of this event was to have a dedicated event for fun runners, many of them are unsure about taking part in competitive road races and feel intimidated by such events. 611 registered and 560 ran, giving a high 92% turnout rate. We try to have 2 to 3 of such events a year for the fun runners. [Photos]

Bidor Half Marathon
The Bidor Kaki Runners, now a registered group has been organizing the event for 3 years. It started as a 14km run and then upgraded to a half marathon in 2006. It gave out the best looking medal in 2006. I did the 2005 run but missed the 2006 run due to the marriage of my goddaughter. This year it was not held due to sponsorship issues. Last Sunday I met Ling at the Ipoh Road Runners 12km and was told that the event will be on 27 April 2008, 21km with 10km and 3km options.

Pacemaker Annual Relay Run
The Pacemakers are a group of about 50 odd very committed runners. They have been organizing some small events, like the New Year Day Run for their group. This year’s relay is their third with 18 teams taking part. RunnersMalaysia was invited to send a team and we did. Their leader is Ronnie See or PM1 as he is known. Visit his blog at http://pm1.blogspot.com.

KLAVA Friendship Relay at Metropolitan Park
KLAVA has decided to focus on road relays and did 3 this year, Deepavali Relay, Back To Nature Relay at Kuala Selangor and the Friendship Relay at Metropolitan Park. I spoke to Eddy Choo during the recent Ipoh Road Runners 12km and he told me that they decided to focus on road relays as this is a neglected area among the road events since the adidas FTAAA Pacesetters 4 x 3km Road Relay was not held after 2005. The dates were during the fasting month as they were unable to fit into the calendar due to many events before and after fasting month. (website – www.klavarunners.info/index.htm)

Taylor's College Adventure Run at Bukit Cahaya Park
When Winson Boey and Leong Sai Hou, two undergraduates from Taylor University College first contacted us to have their event listed in our website and are prepared to come to Bukit Aman Car-park on Saturdays and Sundays to promote their run. I knew we have a bunch of committed individuals there. I have not been to Bukit Cahaya Park for more than 20 years, I was keen to see if the place has changed. Despite the development around it, it is still considered nice by Klang Valley standard. The toilets are clean and it has the potential as a good small event venue catering for up to 800 runners. The run attracted about 200 participants, small as it may be but nevertheless the route was challenging and enjoyable. The climb up to Puncak Seni was more challenging than our Double Hill. I am very keen to do an event there in 2008.

TFMB Countryside Run at Batu Pahat
I have been urging Roger Ong, Chairman of Batu Pahat Marathon Club to have an event in Batu Pahat. It almost happen but for the wrong date, 2 September 2007. It was the Merdeka Weekend and with two other events in the Klang Valley, the New Balance Klang Pacers 12km and the Larian Kardio in University Malaya, support from the KL runners was very weak. It was postponed but later cancelled as no other dates were suitable. It is hoped that Roger Ong does not give up and find a suitable date for a 2008 event in Batu Pahat.

Looking Ahead
I hope within the next 3 years, we have a local event in each major town across the country such that runners could travel and see our country while taking part in the runs. This is a great way to promote sports tourism. It is through these runs, we upgrade the management skills of the various clubs and groups organizing them. We are also sending a strong message to some of the existing event owners that they need to buck up or their events will be less attractive as serious runners have more choices with better managed runs by the runners themselves. I am referring to the so called established runs like the PJ Half Marathon, the Ipoh International Run and the Seremban Half Marathons that have been around for many years but do not seem to improve on their service quality. We hear the same complaints from serious runners year after year on basic issues like traffic management or inadequate drinks. The number of serious runners going to these events has declined sharply but was camouflaged by flocks of students given incentives to come; example – a personal computer to the school with the most entries. We as runners who love our sport have to take charge of the situation and organize runs we like and enjoy. We must not leave it to some officials who do not have passion in it but just do it for the sake of doing it year after year. Runners! Stand up and be counted.

Wan Yew Leong
25 November 2007
wanyewleong@gmail.com

 
 

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