All thanks to a certain twist of fate, not only was I able to participate in the Nike+ Human Race event for free, I was also given a full set of color-coordinated running gear, inclusive of the Human Race dri-FIT t-shirt, a pair of rather sexy running shorts and a pair of Nike Zoom Victory+ running shoes. It is pretty obvious that Nike is working hard to get back to their previous awesome status of a brand name. I have to say that it was quite a good effort, though not exactly new media savvy.
Unfortunately, I do have some complaints for the shoes. The Nike Zoom Victory+ undoubtedly has the looks, but I can’t say the same for the comfort. First, the interior lining wasn’t comfortable enough for the shoe to be worn without socks. Next, the new shoes dug into my heels and almost gave me blisters, which is unlike previous new Nike shoes I have worn. While I liked the wide sole which provides better stability, there didn’t seem be any substantial arch support. The traction was unimpressive in wet conditions and I nearly slipped a few times when I tried them out for a run around my neighborhood.
I reached the Race Village pretty early to take a look around. There was a lot of problems with the logistics. First, the rack pack collection during the previous weekend had participants experiencing delays. There were many who did not receive the transponder chips. Many also faced problems during the online registration process as they weren’t able to pick the right size for the t-shirt. Thankfully, the organizers followed up to get the right sizes and set up a booth for t-shirt exchanges and transponder chip collection.
Having been to quite a number of mass running events, it is a first to have all participants wear a uniform color, it was almost like the migrating crabs that swarm through Christmas Island!
MP Teo Ser Luck was supposed to have flagged off the race, but he never showed up at flag off time. MTV VJs Taya and Utt had to delay the time a little bit with a bit of chit chat with Joanne Peh. But he never did show up to flag off the first wave of runners. Plan B was to have this family whose kid is battling cancer and an ambassador of the Live Strong foundation to flag off the race.
I was in the first wave, but wasn’t exactly the faster runners. Everything’s pretty chaotic, people who never stood a chance in the competitive race were annoyingly cutting into everybody else’s path. Usually, I see them end up walking, panting and obstructing the paths of steady runners, just moments after their “heroic” overtaking.
The first water point wasn’t really well-managed. By the time I got there, hardly any cups were available and the helpers were frantically trying to fill the remaining cups with water.
The event had promised many bands performing at 3 stages along the way of the route, but I only came across one band that was performing on a boat. At the other 2 stages, the performers weren’t even ready to go on the stage.
Portions of the route had rather narrow paths. Some stretches could only accommodate 2 to 3 runners side by side. Some participants started to walk along these narrow stretches and caused quite a congestion in the area, slowing down many behind them.
Half way through the run, it started to rain a little bit and made slopes particularly slippery. I was running with the shoes provided and they had such awfully traction over wet tiles on the bridge, I almost crashed into the railings and shrubs at the end of it.
It took me a little over an hour to complete the 10km route. After exchanging the transponder chip for a nice but rather impractical finisher’s bracelet that was over-packaged, (and to think one of the beneficiaries was World Wildlife Fund) I looked around the race village. It was nice that they provided plenty of refreshments. Besides that, there were food stalls and a Nike booth showcasing a new range of shoes. There was also a holistic booth where runners could receive a free massage.
The event follows up with a concert for the participants. With local and international acts like Chou Pi Jiang, Jack and Rai, MC Vandal, Freaky Z, DJ Ko-Flo, DJ Inquisitive and Boys like Girls taking the stage, it was certainly something to look forward to after the messy 10k run.
First up was local mandarin rap group, Chou Pi Jiang. Pretty catchy stuff, but like most raps for me, I couldn’t decipher what exactly they were singing. It was a pity that they spent most of the time at the back of the huge stage and the vocals only moved forward after prompting by the event crew. The crowd was only starting to come before the stage and the reaction was unfortunately lukewarm.
Next came Freaky Z and MC Vandal to work the crowd with their rapping magic as they moved fluidly around the front of the stage. The crowd responded whenever the artists blurted something related to Singapore. Like, when one of them rapped, “chicken rice,” the crowd gave cheers of approval. Never mind that the rest of the lyrics can hardly be heard.
Then DJ Ko-Flo came on to spin some tracks. Pretty cool music which the crowd preferred to listen to intently. Following that came the popular local duo of Jack and Rai who play regularly at Timbre.
They definitely worked the crowd up as they performed their own songs and popular covers.
MC Vandal and Freaky Z then returned to the stage with DJ Ko-Flo and DJ Inquisitive to perform. Thereafter, DJ Ko-Flo stayed on to spin more music. I couldn’t stay for Boys like Girls, which was probably the biggest act for the concert. But I am pretty sure the crowds that stayed would have enjoyed every moment of the gig.
Throughout the concert, hosts Taya and Utt threw iPod Nanos into the crowds. I almost got one myself but it bounced off into someone else’s hands. Guess it was not meant to be mine.
Overall, the Nike+ Human Race had been an extremely successful branding campaign for Nike. The sea of runners dressed in red definitely leaves a deep impression. The concert was a nice touch to retain and work the crowd. I guess 10km was a comfortable distance that leaves sufficient energy for the participants to stay on for the concert too. So I definitely look forward to the next Human Race, and hope that the logistics and running route will be better planned.