250 runners get Easter Sunday workout at Leaderboard 5km Finale Run

SINGAPORE – There was a collective sigh of relief among the 250 participants at the Leaderboard 5km Finale Run on Sunday morning (April 4) as the event was finally given the green light to proceed after a 90-minute delay owing to bad weather.

Organised by Orange Room, the Finale Run at the Singapore Sports Hub was the second mass participation race to be held here since sports came to a halt during the circuit breaker in April last year. The MetaSprint series aquathlon at Sentosa last Sunday was the first to kick off with 1,000 participants.

The early morning shower could not dampen the spirits of the runners, as most of them had not competed in a physical race for close to a year.

Sharon Tan, who was the third fastest female in 18min 3.05sec said: “Even though the organisers could have called off the event at 7am, they still waited for around half an hour so that they could resume the event. This was quite responsible of them, as this showed that they did not want to disappoint the runners who qualified and turned up.”

Leaderboard, a “blended” sporting event initiative, was launched when Singapore entered Phase 2 last year to give runners a platform to compete virtually and clock their best 5km time every month. A total of 6,000 runners competed in the virtual event, with only the top 30 male and 30 female runners each month from December 2020 to March in the competitive category qualifying for Sunday’s finale event.

The top 5 male and female winners each on Sunday were awarded up to S$4,500 worth of cash and prizes.

Aside from the “blended” event combining the virtual and physical races, there were other Covid-19 safety measures in play. There was no baggage deposit and runners were encouraged to arrive no earlier than 25 minutes before their allocated race start time to prevent mingling. No spectators were allowed for the event.

Instead of the usual mass start, runners were flagged off in groups of eight, with a five-minute interval between each wave. In each wave, only four people set off at a time in 10-second intervals. There were also stickers on the floor to remind runners to maintain a two-metre safe distance, and runners were only allowed to remove their masks a few minutes before they were flagged off.

Herlene Yu, who competed in the duathlon mixed relay team at the 2019 SEA Games, said events like this can be used as “small steps to get back to normal racing”. She added: “It has been a while since we actually got to race with other people, so I’m just grateful for the opportunity to get back to racing, which is what we as sportspeople really enjoy. We can’t expect the same number of people and competitiveness, but with this race and the MetaSprint last week, I am starting to see more hope that similar events will take place in the future.”

Coming in first in the men’s race in 15:16.31 was Foo Gen Lin, who admitted that he felt “mildly apprehensive” as it was one of his first physical races in Covid times. He said: “I came into this race feeling a bit fatigued from the multiple time trials and races in the previous weeks. To achieve a good time and win the race was awesome… it’s good to be back on the podium again.”

Race organisers Orange Room had hosted the event with the support of Sport Singapore under the “blended” initiative, part of the Government’s $50 million Sports Resilience Package to help the sports industry cope with the effects of the pandemic.

Elvin Ting, managing director of Orange Room said: “Being able to hold this competitive on-site event gives event organisers the confidence that the sports industry is starting to make a positive comeback. From the perspective of government venues, we hope that this event can set forward the right standards for mass events to open up again.

“We’re pleased that the event happened as we have been doing months of planning. Seeing all the hard work come to life is great and hopefully there will be more similar events to come.”

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