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  • Writer's pictureJohn Yeong

Race As One: Singapore Marathon 2020

New race categories, a virtual club, and augmented reality and virtual races were key themes of the most iconic running event on Singapore's sporting calendar in 2020, as Singapore grappled with keeping spirits high in the running community amidst Covid-19.

Team Green and Team Blue participants in the 'Race As One' LIVE Broadcast on Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon's Grand Finale weekend. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Back in August this year, I had decided to sign up for the Virtual Club of Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, as a show of support for the organisers IRONMAN Asia in what was seen as unprecedented times not just for Singapore's sporting community, but for the world.

I had learnt of this year's modified marathon offerings from Pei Xuan and Geoff, who had come on 'Evenings with John and Duncan' as guests to share the latest developments on this year's SCSM, and what local runners can expect.

Beatrice Chia-Richmond of Green Team in action. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia Little did I expect that I would take to the weekly virtual challenges and races with so much enthusiasm - that I eventually scored an invite onto Stan Chart Singapore Marathon's Grand Finale LIVE broadcast on 5 December 2020.

Chuffed as I was, when I found out I would be racing against Team Singapore marathoner Jasmine Goh in the final leg of a 21-km Augmented Reality relay featuring ministers, CEOs and celebrities; I blanked out.

Little did I expect that I would score an invite onto Stan Chart Singapore Marathon's Grand Finale LIVE broadcast on 5 December 2020.

Sure, it was just friendly competition. But I have been to these kind of events before, there is always someone in the team who turns the whole thing competitive and takes the fun out of it. So you could understand my anxiety.

Me and Jasmine Goh taking on the final 5km of the 21km-long AR Ekiden. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Fantastic Reception

My time would eventually come, but in the 48 hours leading up to the LIVE broadcast, from rehearsals to run downs, I was thrown back into the earlier months of 2020; where I had to oversee 9 daily shows on Get Active TV and even host one of my own!

It had been some time since we wound down LIVE shows in our studio, so there was a sense of deja vu when the crew lined us up in front of the studio cameras in preparation for D-day.

We were also very fortunate to have extremely friendly staff both from the organising team IRONMAN Asia and the broadcast crew, who must have been feeling really stressed out managing the various requests from multiple parties and VVIPs.

Chua En Lai and Kym Ng share a selfie, as Mark Richmond looks on. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Making New Friends

I am just thankful to have found a new friend in Jasmine Goh, who I do not know too well personally, although we've met twice earlier this year - at Under Armour's launch event of the HOVR Machina at Funan Centre where I was the host, as well as Nurture Kids LIVE Broadcast during national day.

Jasmine turned out to be really friendly, and we agreed to go on trail runs in 2021, something which I have no prior experience in. Not just Jasmine, but host Chua En Lai and celebrity Kym Ng were really friendly too.

D-day came, and the show went according to plan. The only thing everyone didn't know was whether Team Green or Team Blue would turn out to be the faster bunch? It was like a mixed box of chocolates to be honest - tossing everyone together.

Participants receiving a brief from Pei Xuan of IRONMAN Asia. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Humorous Ending

The race itself started off normally as both Minister Edwin Tong and Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin were friends since their school days, a friendship that did not turn too fiesty in spite of En Lai's playful jibes at the supposed rivalry.

It wasn't until the CEOs stepped onto the treadmills that there was a noticeable change in pace towards a more competitive streak. I had hoped my team would give me a significant advantage over the Blue team so that I wouldn't need to run myself into the ground for the final 5km.

While the lead of 850m that I was given was not too shabby a margin, I wasn't entirely confident it was enough against Jasmine. And sure enough, when she stepped onto the treadmill the race was on!

Punching my fist in the air after crossing the finishing line. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Even then, I was happy to hold my own for much of the 5km, keeping the lead at 500m + for much of the leg of the relay, before I made a huge gaffe of slowing down after I hit 21km, mistakenly thinking that I had already finished the race.

This was to the horror of the rest of my teammates, when everyone found out I hadn't finished the race yet and I was told that I needed to cross the AR finishing line on the Padang - some 300 plus metres away yet.

By this point, Jasmine had wiped out another 300m of my team's lead, leaving me to jack up the treadmill level from 0 - 15 as I made a mad sprint for the finishing line to make up for my earlier mistake.

Minister Edwin Tong takes a wefie with Speaker Tan Chuan Jin and a staffer. Photo credit: IRONMAN Asia

Thankfully, my mistake didn't prove costly but it certainly brought laughs around the studio as we wrapped up the broadcast and brought an end to an eventful year of running.

I wish to personally thank Pei Xuan, Maga, Crystal, Amanda and Yulianna for doing such a fantastic job in organising this year's event - and for treating me with such generosity and kindness.

This is certainly something special that I will pen down in my memories, and keep close to my heart for years to come.


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