Great Eastern Women’s Run: A Strong, Beautiful Cheer-fest! – Movement Labs

Great Eastern Women’s Run: A Strong, Beautiful Cheer-fest!

So this morning, this happened:

Strong is Beautiful

I heard from several running friends that the Great Eastern Women’s Run (5K/10K/21K) was one of the best races in Singapore.  This is the only female-only event in Singapore (or perhaps that I’ve seen ANYWHERE) that refuses to play up the “girlie” part of a female-only race*.  The shirts are red (not pink!!!!!), the message is health and fitness (not glitter!!!), and the execution is solid.  Although I opted not to participate this year, I will not make the same mistake next year.

So I did the next best thing to running: I went out to cheer.  The weather was a bit iffy – rain threatened all morning, and some parts of the course did get a bit wet/misty at times.  But the overcast skies and cool breeze definitely made me wish I was racing!!!

Grey morning skyline (taken from my 21K cheering spot).

Grey morning skyline (taken from my 21K cheering spot).

I spent the first part of the morning at the 14K mark on the half-marathon course, and of course had a blast cheering for everyone.  I loved seeing so many strong, intense, fierce looking lady runners!  The two funniest parts of the morning were:

1. Several times, ladies running past greeted me by name, “Hi Holly!” with enthusiastic waves.  I cheered and waved back – I suppose they know me from the blog and/or Run With Holly Facebook page – but I have no idea who most of them are.  I felt mildly famous, but wish I knew your names so I could have very specifically cheered back at you!

2. “Aren’t you supposed to be at Marina Barrage?”  This was the most common question I got all morning.  Marina Barrage is my usual cheering spot, for several reasons: It’s 4-5K from the finish, there’s not much else going on so encouragement is welcome, and the absence of housing means I can cheer as loudly as I want.   This morning, I just decided to do something a bit different.  Seems that I’ll have to do this even more in the future, just to keep you all on your toes! 🙂

When most of the half-marathoners passed, I decided to go across the river to cheer for the 5K, which was still going strong.  Unfortunately, the best way to cross the Kallang River was for me to walk back to the subway and travel one stop.  This was a bit pesky, but I hustled and managed to get across before all the runners finished.

The fun part about a 5K is that the distance is accessible to many people, and I saw ladies of all shapes, sizes, and ages out on the course, including an 80 year-old woman, walking with her daughter? grand-daughter? – so cool!

I opted to hold the sign this time (rather than prop it up – the drizzle was making things a big soggy), and was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response it received.  After last week’s “glam” kerfluffle, I wanted the sign to remind all the ladies out on the course that their physical and inner strength is what make them beautiful.  But I saw so many smiles, fist-pumps, and cheers in response to a few simple words, that it was my heart that melted.  There were so many requests for photos that I should have made TWO signs!  When a woman came up to me and said, “See these goosebumps?  That sign just gave me these goosebumps,” I almost cried.

The overwhelming response left me feeling conflicted: Part of me was overjoyed that I could help spread such a powerful message; another part of me was a bit sad that such a message still needs to be spread.

The extra bonus of my 5K cheer spot was  the most active, energetic group of race course volunteers I’ve ever seen in Singapore.  These young ladies formed a mini cheer corridor, pulled out every language they knew (including English, Mandarin, Singlish, and Malay), and even ran next to some participants for a bit.  They were awesome.

Jia YOU, ladies!

Jia YOU, ladies!

The flood of runners turned to a stream, to a trickle, and then…the morning was over.  I packed up my sign, grabbed a parting shot of some Kalang Park roosters (don’t ask me…):

Yep, four roosters pecking along in the park (which is really just a strip of green between the river and the highway).  Toward the end, they even added their own "Cock-a-doodle-do"s to the cheering action!

Yep, four roosters pecking along in the park (which is really just a strip of green between the river and the highway). Toward the end, they even added their own “Cock-a-doodle-do”s to the cheering action!

and headed home.  I won’t lie: I was planning to go for a run when I got home.  But after two days full of early mornings and lots of cheering, I opted for a shower and a long afternoon nap instead.  Sorry I’m not sorry.  Now, I’m catching up on some work, writing some blog posts, and about to go find myself some dinner.  [Cheering is hard, hungry work.]  Enjoy the remainder of your Sunday!!

Congratulations to ALL Great Eastern participants.  You ladies did a fantastic job this morning!!!

*If female-only races leave you feeling a little funky, check out this post by Fit and Feminist (yes, I love her just a little bit): My Problem With Women-Only Races Is Not The Women-Only Part.  You’re welcome.

Did you run the Great Eastern race this morning?  Tell me about it!

Did you run another race this morning? STILL tell me about it!

What makes YOU beautiful (please think outside the lines of ‘traditional’ beauty)?
[Men, you can answer this question, too.  I think those of you out this morning supporting/cheering/pacing/sherpa-ing for your wives/daughters/siblings/friends were beautiful for your dedication, commitment, and love.]

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  1. Meagan November 11, 2013 at 12:11 am - Reply

    That’s funny (and cool!!) that so many recognized you during the race and that others recognized you were not at your usual spot! I love the sign that you made and it looks like it was both well-received by race participants and a great reminder to them all. Love the roosters in the park, too, of course 🙂

    I think the thing that makes me beautiful most of all is my personality. I can be a bit shy/tentative when I first meet someone, but I quickly transition to someone who can hold their own in most settings. I’m pretty good at cracking jokes and getting people laughing. I have kind of a “sunny disposition” too (as corny as that sounds). I’m very much glass half full, look at the bright side, keep calm in tense/stressful situations-type person, and others seem to feed off of that.

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 11, 2013 at 8:54 am - Reply

      I actually thought of you when I saw the roosters!!! Wondered if any of your ladies wanted a date. 😉

      People like you are great to have around in uncomfortable/new social situations! I’ve sorta taught myself to do this, a little bit, but having someone like you around definitely makes things more relaxed and smooth/easy. My husband is quite like you – I could take him anywhere, from a party of PhD nerds to a campfire with my “country” friends to a running event, and he blends right in and starts making friends. It’s a great trait to have! 🙂

  2. Debbie @ Deb Runs November 11, 2013 at 12:21 am - Reply

    Love this! I haven’t run in any of the women’s only races that have popped up recently, but way back in 1989 I ran in a Nike’s Mother’s Day race in DC. It was a big race with a lot of women celebrating being moms (or celebrating their moms). We wore our regular running clothes and didn’t celebrate our “inner divas.”

  3. Char November 11, 2013 at 5:28 am - Reply

    I also opted to be a cheerleader yesterday. My son was running in a local race so I took the pups for a walk to cheer him along. I was amazed at how many runners that I ended up knowing in the race and at how many runners love dogs. Really fun morning!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 11, 2013 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Honestly (here’s one of my dirty little secrets), I think cheering is nearly as much fun as racing. I still get an endorphin rush, I still get all sweaty, I still need good hydration skills, and I still finish exhausted and hungry! Plus, I get to celebrate EVERYONE’S race, not just my own. 🙂

  4. Allee @ Griselda Mood November 11, 2013 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    You make me laugh…”the message was not glitter” haha. That sounds awesome though! What a fantastic day for you. I really am a big fan of all women’s races (if they’re done correctly) because there’s something nice about sharing that experience with all females…to me, it gives me a different set of motivation. I’m happy you had a great day!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 12, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

      I think you’re right – and I’m not against women-only races; but the shallow marketing of many (pink, sparkles, glitter, fashion, etc.) rubs me the wrong way. [I’ll take the chocolate, though – that doesn’t bother me one bit! :)] There is something empowering about watching women be…strong, basically. As a coach, I also realize that “regular” races feel intimidating to some new runners – especially women. And a women-only race can help assuage their fears and hesitation, and introduce them to racing in a more comfortable environment. And I’m all for that!

  5. Allison November 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Love that it emphasizes health and fitness rather than glitter. That’s important!
    I think my confidence makes me beautiful! I love when women are confident….not cocky!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 12, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Yeah. Glitter gets all over and is almost impossible to clean up. 😉

      I totally agree – confidence IS beautiful. Sometimes it scares the boys away, but not the keepers. 😉

  6. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama November 12, 2013 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Love that you went out and cheered on the race participants! And LOVE this women’s race emphasizes health & fitness and not glam & glitter. I’m kind of on the fence about women-only races. I’ve never done one myself, but I’m all for events that encourage women to get off the couch and get active.

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 12, 2013 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Did you read the Fit & Feminist post I linked to at the bottom? Women’s races always left me feeling a bit…weird – and when I read that post a few months ago, I could only think, “AMEN! YES. THIS!!!!!!” It definitely helped give words to a lot of what I’d been feeling. And I loved that this particular race seemed to avoid many of what I see as the pitfalls of women-only races. Definitely something to celebrate – and something I want part of next year! 🙂

  7. Kristen @ Happy Running Mama November 12, 2013 at 12:35 am - Reply

    It gave ME goosebumps to read about the woman who came up to you and said the sign gave HER goosebumps! What a great slogan for a sign, especially for an all-female race. It sounds like everyone loved the sign and it is the just the message we need to be spreading in our society.

    Reading this really makes me want to get out and spectate more races. Or volunteer at a race… Thanks for the motivation! 🙂

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 12, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

      DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IT!!!!! It might seem counter-intuitive, when you’re dealing with an injury – but when I busted up my ankle a few years back and was sidelined for months, volunteering was the best choice I (eventually) made – after weeks of moping. I think endorphins go airborne or something, because cheering and assisting was almost as awesome (maybe more awesome?) than actually running. I think I walk away with a bigger high, because I’m not so incredibly exhausted. 🙂

      And yes, she gave ME goosebumps, too. Now I want to tattoo that sign to my forehead or something. It will DEFINITELY be coming out at future races, that’s for sure!

  8. Brennan November 14, 2013 at 3:37 am - Reply

    Love this. I would have tons of fun cheering at a race with you. Amy and I spectated the NJ Marathon together and it was a blast.

    And those roosters… awesome! I’m a freak for “wild” life!

  9. November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I love that my first half marathon was the Ladies’ Speedstick Half Marathon and GLENN RAN IT WITH ME. That man is awesome for more reasons than one… He’d rather watch the NCAA Women’s Softball finals than the NHL Stanley Cup!
    What makes me beautiful ~ that’s tough to answer… not because I don’t have an answer, but because it’s always tough to answer these questions to others than myself!
    One reason I’m beautiful ~ love. Mostly the of the love I give, but also because of the love I receive.

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      That’s part of the reason that I asked it – because most of us either don’t really believe we’re beautiful, or believe it, but don’t think it’s socially acceptable to ADMIT it. [And I will point out that giving love is beautiful, but you are – once again – defining yourself by your relationship with others… 😉 ]

      How do we change things so that we (and our daughters, our nieces, our future daughters-in-law) DO feel comfortable “owning” our own beauty?

  10. Paul November 24, 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Rooster at Kallang Park? Seriously?? Who let the Rooster Out?? Sorry can’t help it! 😀

    But that was one awesome pix! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 26, 2013 at 5:35 am - Reply

      Hahah – I know, right? My husband and I run there once or twice a month – never seen any roosters. Yet, the morning that thousands of people tromp through the park…there they are! Maybe they wanted to cheer? Or they’d heard good things about the Great Eastern race & wanted to see what the fuss was about? 🙂

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