Wednesday, June 11, 2008

my letter to the City duathlon organiser... and their reply...


Dear Organisers of City Duathlon 2008,

I am writing in with regards to feedback I have for the city duathlon which was held last Sunday.

At the race start, we, the participants were not briefed on the race route, number of laps to complete for each leg, U-turn points which were very important and other relevant details. This was very crucial to everybody as we participants are usually briefed before the race. At the start point, it was announced that the race will commence in 15 mins. Many competitors made their way out to have a drink or do their active stretching. We did not expect that within a minute, it started to announce "the race is starting in 10,9,8,...." we were all taken aback.

The running route was supposed to be 2 loops of 5km. When I was approaching the esplanade link bridge and was asked to make a turn down, I saw the marshalls not able to control the human traffic. Runners were taking short cut, some were asking the marshalls exactly where is the running route leading to. The first round was completed with not much of obstruction.

The most annoying thing about the whole race which had me disqualified was when we were approaching the "so-called U-turn point" which non of the runners actually had an idea where it was located, we were asked to run straight back into the transition area. The first pack of runners, the leading pack all ran straight in. The U-turn sign was no where to be seen. I followed the leaders right in. As all of us approached the start point, I saw the BIKE OUT sign. That moment, i was totally confused. WE asked the marshall stationed at the BIKE OUT sign for directions, some answered they do not know. Some asked us to go right into the transition area and run out through the "RUN OUT" sign. We head straight in and ran out through the RUN OUT area. However, we were very shocked to see that when we exited the RUN OUT area and ran all the way out, we were already overtaken by the slower runners behind. We were held back much further and at that moment we realised that we had taken a much longer route. It was very much annoying that runners like us had ran out hearts out for the first 5km and had to accept that we were forced to run an extra distance and wasted precious time due to the management's negligance. It is very annoying.

The top leaders were all disqualified as they ran right into the transition area, not knowing that they had passed by the U-turn point. The marshalls said nothing and there was nobody leading the runners to U-turn . I am talking about the front leaders and us runners who were in the front pack and racing for positions on the podium.

While I was running my second 5km loop, I knew that I had already lost out as I could see people who were jogging really slowly, in front of me! this refers that the faster runners had already whisked their way through and are much more in front of me.

At the bike leg, I did not have the mood to bike. The other annoying and frustrating thing was that the bike leg was supposed to be 40km but turned out to be only 22km! All the cyclists on the bike leg were confused on whether to believe the marshalls to cycle only 5 loops or to complete 7-8loops. Scenes of cyclists discussing these things could be seen through the bike leg. You could hear people saying "just loop 5 rounds, and go back.. should be only 22km"... others were saying "maybe we should just loop 8 rounds since each round is only 4 km!"... the situation was very confusing. The route was so packed. There was no room for cyclist to pass one another. The faster cyclists had to constantly shout "coming right!" it was not normal for a cyclist to shout such things every 2-3 seconds!

After finishing the 5 loops of the bike, I headed straight back . I had totally NO mood to complete the last running lap. I stopped at the bike out area and pushed my bike away. It was totally demoralising and I was so frustrated, I just gave up the race and walked off. It was just not the right time to race in such an event.

I got to realised that the team i was representing, BIKE LABZ had 2 teams disqualified. Their relay runners who were the top 2 persons for the 10km first leg run encountered the same as me. They were led the wrong way and ran straight into the bike transition area. And because of this, the 2 teams were disqualified. The other team they sent for the shorter relay also encountered problems. The runner who was supposed to run the first leg of the 2.5km had no idea where the 2.5km U-turn point was! He asked every marshall he saw along the way and non of them knew where it was, in the end he ran all the way to the PADANG! can you imagine how much extra distance he had actually clocked! Lucky for him, he was a faster runner, even with the extra distance, he still came back first.

It was very very very disheartening to see so many people affected by the race. We went there to race, to enjoy as well as to try and win. However, the bulk majority of us who were racing in the leading pack were either disqualified or led the wrong way. The lady who was leading all the way, Dinah, from the National Triathlon Team had to loop 7 rounds of the bike leg instead of 5 laps and in the end, lost her position. All of us who were running and leading in the front pack all dropped behind not because of our lack in strength or fitness, but due to obstacles that occurred during the race.

Many of us have planned not to race this event ever again. We expect an explanation from the organiser. There are many issues to be explained.

Thank you very much.

Tan Sok Hue Sumiko

their reply TO MY EMAIL after 3 days..

Dear Sumiko,

Firstly, we apologise for the late response to your letter.

We thank you for your valuable feedback and sincerely apologise for the inconveniences caused to you during the race. We duly acknowledge your comments and sentiments, and promise to work towards improving the areas pointed out in your letter, in order to prevent similar experiences from occurring again for future events.

Please find attached a copy of the Race Director’s review, which was posted on the official event website on Monday, 9 June 2008. We hope the review will be able to offer further insight in addressing your queries and concerns.

Further, we endeavour to provide a more specific explaination to you in the next week. We thank you for your patience and kind understanding on this.

Once again, thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely
Raymond Sia
(Sent on behalf of Organiser)

Race Director's Review ON THE WEBSITE:

Dear race participants,
Thank you for participating in the SAAB City Duathlon. As a Triathlete myself, I
understand the amount of training and effort you take to prepare for a race and salute
you for your spirit. It is our goal to provide you with the best possible race experience
in spite of whatever challenges that come our way.

As the Race Director, I'm concerned about some of the feedback gathered after the
event and regret to learn about the inconvenience or confusion incurred during the
race. As such, I'll like to give my unreserved apology and provide you with a review
for your understanding.

Shorter Bike Route
The original bike route for the full Duathlon (40km) and half Duathlon (20km)
required participants to complete 5 loops and 2 loops respectively. However, we
discovered discrepancies at the bike route junction between Marina Boulevard and
Marina Mall (Please refer to Bike Route Map). Despite deploying 4 marshals, who
had effectively directed the earlier Junior Duathlon and Half Duathlon (16-19 yrs)
category races, we experienced difficulties in the later categories.

Our review showed that due to the affected route being only partially closed to
support continual operation of the Marina Pier, the gaps between cones used to
barricade the junction allowed the lead pack of the 4th Wave to miss their left turn
towards Marina Mall and go straight ahead towards Marina Pier.

This resulted in numerous cyclists following the lead pack and as it was deemed too
dangerous to redirect the cyclists and unfair to disqualify the many cyclists who had
missed their checkpoint in Marina Mall, a judgement call was made to stay with this
"modified" route which resulted in a shortened bike route.

To support this decision, we briefed the marshals to provide the consistent message
that cyclists were to only complete 5 loops and 2 loops.

Through our efforts, we are glad to announce no cyclist went through the planned
8km loop which provided some level of consistency. For the full Duathlon a total of
80.25% of the participants managed to complete the race based on the 5 laps (22km)
which we subsequently adopted as the official bike distance. In the Corporate Relay a
total of 93.46% of the participants managed to complete the race based on the 2 laps
(10km) which we again adopted as the official bike distance.

In the evaluation of our race management, we would like to apologize and highlight
areas where we were deficient:

• Failure to anticipate the route challenges as a result of heavy construction
work in the area.
• Failure to anticipate over a hundred construction workers breaching our bike
route on their way to work.
• Ineffective marshalling
• Inadequate route signage

To ensure that such incidents do not occur again, we also commit ourselves to these
• More prominent road signages
• Effective marshalling
• Greater clarity in lap count
• Greater clarity in E-briefing as well as the route map
• More in depth engagement of other stakeholder in the area
• Review on the usage of Marina Bay area as a venue for future races until
construction is nearing completion

On another note, may I take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors for their kind
support. To all the volunteers who made the effort to support the race, thank you very
much. Without your support such mass participation events would not be possible.
Once again, we thank you for taking part in the SAAB City Duathlon, and sincerely
apologise for all inconvenience caused during the event. Your feedback is important
to us, and we hope that you give us the opportunity to deliver an improved race in the
future. .

Yours Sincerely
Race Director


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