Yellow Ribbon Run (2013): Race Report – Movement Labs

Yellow Ribbon Run (2013): Race Report

Brooks, Nike, Salomon, Adidas, North Face…these are the headlining names on most of the running races in Singapore.  So when I first heard about the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, a fundraising run for the Yellow Ribbon Project, I was intrigued.  Some investigation revealed that the 10-year-old Yellow Ribbon Project unites various agencies in Singapore to support the re-integration of ex-offenders into society.  The Yellow Ribbon Project provides skills training and social support for ex-offenders, as well as community education to encourage their acceptance back into Singaporean society.

In a society that (I’m generalizing, folks) values conformity and adherence to rules, Singapore can be a difficult and unforgiving place for those – including ex-offenders – who have strayed from the narrow confines of societal expectations.  Thus, as race date neared, I was overwhelmed and encouraged by the level of support I was seeing around the city for the race: billboards and media campaigns, certainly – but also lots of social media support from younger generations of Singaporeans.

So although the timing wasn’t great for me, I couldn’t help but register, and start getting excited, for the race.  Training-wise, I was caught somewhere between post-marathon recovery and pre-ultra taper, one week after another “mostly for fun” 10K (Salomon Vertical City Trail Race Report), and 2 days after/4 days before super-long ultra training runs.  So I settled on using the race as a longer-tempo effort. My two main goals were:

1. Run strong – a slightly faster pace than training runs.
2. Run steadily – none of this “out too fast” business from last weekend’s race

One extra bonus of our anniversary mini-staycation was that we were staying about 20-30 minutes closer to the race location than we would have if we were at home.  Once we found an open subway entrance (doh!), we were just a 20 minute ride away from the shuttle bus pick-up point.  Because of the point-to-point course, and the lack of parking at the start, shuttle buses were arranged to transport runners from a nearby MRT station/parking lot to the Start and from the Finish.

Boarding the shuttles to the start.

Boarding the shuttles to the start.

Finding the shuttle buses was easy: We just followed the sea of yellow shirts!  This race is in its fifth year, and kudos to the organizers for having instituted a very efficient and effective transportation plan.  We waited less than 2 minutes to board a shuttle to the Starting Line.

I actually quite enjoyed the 15 minute ride to the start: This was all new territory to me.  This part of Singapore is comparatively undeveloped, and we drove past forests, a golf course (or two?), and a few military/airport-related buildings.  I saw lots of cyclists – if I ever get up the courage to get my bike on the road out here, THIS is where I want to ride!!

The red pin is the location of the start.

The whole island is all of Singapore. The red pin is the location of the start. Thank you, Google Maps.

Super-fast baggage drop.

Super-fast baggage drop.

The starting area at Changi Village was alive and kickin’ on this Sunday morning – runners were everywhere, queuing for restrooms and having a pre-race drink at the food stalls.  With just 15 minutes until the start, we quickly made our way to the baggage drop – very efficient – although I wish they hadn’t re-bagged everything in enormous plastic bags.  This was a safety precaution in case of rain, but it seemed so wasteful, I cringed.  Ah, well – I’d be happy for the extra protection, if the skies opened.

And it was starting to look like that was a possibility.  The sun was sort-of shining, but heavy clouds hung nearby.  Would we be running through a downpour?  Only time would tell!

We hustled to the starting corral.

I know I'm always proclaiming "NO race shirt on race day! Nothing new! Please!" But the organizers requested we wear shirts...and they were supported the Yellow Ribbon Project, not advertising some big name sneaker company.  So, I caved to the pressure. Don't judge. [Wearing the race shirt TO the race is also totally normal out here, as you can see from my photos.]

I know I’m always proclaiming “NO race shirt on race day! Nothing new! Please!” But the organizers requested we wear the shirts…and they were supporting the Yellow Ribbon Project, not advertising some big name sneaker company. So, I caved to the pressure. Don’t judge. [Wearing the race shirt TO the race is also totally normal out here, as you can see from my photos.]

Fortunately/unfortunately, I can’t provide a port-o-potty evaluation for this race; I didn’t have the need to partake. Good thing, too, as we didn’t really have any time to spare  We glimpsed the Starting Line, but were met with a wall of runners ahead of us.

Can you see the Starting Line waaay in the distance?

Can you see the Starting Line waaay in the distance? It has some light blue text on it. See it now?

The race start was imminent, and since both KMN and I were using this as a training run (not a goal race), we decided not to fight our way forward through the crowd.  KMN predicted that we’d cross the Starting Line 5 minutes after the gun.  He was correct, within about 10 seconds.  [I have no idea how he did that.]

I’m still not sure that starting so far back was a good idea, but it was the decision we made at the time.  On the plus side, we didn’t have to deal with the cramped, overheated corral feeling that those further forward undoubtedly experienced.  On the minus side, there were 4,300 runners in the 10K race that morning, and I started behind at least 75% of them – but was the 296th runner to cross the Finish Line.  If that doesn’t give you a good idea of what my first few miles looked like, this might:

YRR Early kms

I dodged, weaved, “trail” ran in that grassy patch on the left, and tried not to annoy any of my fellow runners as I struggled to find a clear path.  Navigation, rather than pace, was my greatest challenge through the first two miles.  This is reflected in my mile splits.

Mile 1: 8:24 min/mi
Mile 2: 8:32

Thankfully, by the third mile, people had spread out and the course opened up a bit.  I was able to lock into a steady, strong pace for myself.  I was feeling good and conquering the small rolling hills (unusual for Singapore) without too much thought.  In fact, the course map indicated several “Incline Slope!” warnings on it, but I’ll admit that, even after running the course, I’m not sure which hills were the marked ones!  In short, the whole course rolled, but I didn’t find anything to be terribly steep.

There was also a contingent of students from a local school (I think) at the top of each hill.  They were banging on makeshift drums, shouting encouraging words, cheering, and sometimes chanting.  Cheering isn’t terribly common out here, so their encouragement was terrific, and I couldn’t help but smile and thank them.

I cruised past the Johore Battery (an underground armory built by the British and used to store ammunition for the defense of Singapore’s coastline during WWII), the Work Release Camp (where some inmates work during the day), and the Changi Chapel and Museum (apparently, a monument to those who maintained their faith during WWII).  I’d never had reason to come out to this area before, and a tempo pace (rather than killer race pace) let me take in a passing look at these sites.

There was also a misting tunnel somewhere along this section.  Most runners opted to run through, so I swung just to the side (to avoid the congestion) and caught some errant spray.  Despite the high humidity (and threatening clouds), and seeming complete absence of evaporative cooling…the mist still felt lovely.

Mile 3: 8:00 min/mi
Mile 4: 8:06

We passed the Tanah Merah Prison (for young offenders) and the Changi Women’s Prison, where some of the staff gathered outside to cheer on the runners.  I’m not sure if this was a mandated activity, but for any of you reading (none, probably) – I can assure you that the runners hugely appreciated your support.  Thank you!

This is the first race I’ve run in Singapore without my water bottle.  I’ll admit that, going into mile 5, I started to feel a bit thirsty.  Usually the middle miles of a race (3 & 4, in a 10K) are the hardest for me – but mile 5 was my hardest mile in this race.  Perhaps we hit some uphill (not sure), and this section definitely included a hairpin turnaround (my favorite!), but I told myself that I could do anything for 2 miles, and would just have to wait for the Finish Line to have some water.

[Safety first! Hydration is important!  Ignoring thirst is a dangerous game.  Pesonally, though, I knew I went into the race well-hydrated, and that I could safely run for less than an hour without water, while still remaining within the “safe” zone of dehydration.  But be sure to make smart decisions for your own body!]

Mile 5: 8:26 min/mi

Just after the 5 mile mark, we entered the outer prison wall.  This is an area normally closed to the public, opened especially for this race each year.  The course made some tight turns in several places, and I was able to catch a few glimpses of other sections and runners.  I enjoyed a nice steep downhill (cruisin’!), then a ubiquitous cafeteria smell (which is exactly the same in Singapore as it is in the US, even though the food is probably different – go figure).  I really dislike any food smells along my race courses, so I balanced momentary nausea with an extra burst of speed, to get through this section quickly.

The last 0.6 miles of the course was an out-and-back, that went downhill on the way out.  By this time, I was more or less ready to be done.  The “out” section seemed to go on forever.  Finally (I swear it felt like finally, even though it was just over a quarter mile), I rounded the cone and turned onto the “back”.  Strangely, the “back” section seemed much shorter.  I powered up the hill and even picked off a few women on my way to the Finish Line.  And that was it – I was finished.

Mile 6: 7:55 min/mi
Final 0.28: 7:24
RACE TIME: 51:25 for 6.28 miles
AVERAGE PACE: 8:12 min/mi

I think this would have been a solid 8 min/mi effort in the absence of early congestion (totally my fault for starting so far back).  And overall, the congestion assured that I ran a smarter race than the previous weekend.  Two slow miles, followed by some faster ones, was a much superior pacing strategy.  Given my current training and race goals, and the rolling nature of the course, I am perfectly content with this finishing time.

I took my medal, then grabbed a sports drink and a cup of water.  Dear Organizers: The enormous reusable plastic cups were brilliant, in my opinion.  A race in Singapore requires far more than a tiny 8 oz cup of water for rehydration.  This 16 oz cup was perfection, and I brought mine back for at least 4 refills.  I happily stationed myself outside the finish chute fence, and cheered for the incoming runners.

[Quick PSA: Folks, STOP TAKING PHOTOS IN THE FINISHING CHUTE!  I know you want a photo with the Finishing Arch, but some things aren’t meant to be documented – especially when you stand with your back to the stream of finishing runners, while your friend takes your picture.  This causes extra congestion, and could make it hard for officials to see a runner who is in distress.  Keep moving, and take your photos somewhere else, for everyone’s safety!  Thanks.]

Soon, I saw KMN cross the line, and he joined me on cheer duty.  [OK, he refilled my water cup several times, and stood next to me, while I cheered.  I’m the loud one in this marriage.]  A short while later, I saw one of my clients cross the Finish Line of his first 10K. !!!! He ran a great race, and finished enthused and eager to keep training (a sure sign that he ran a smart race!).  Way to go, J!  Another client followed shortly thereafter.  I chatted with both briefly, drank some more water, then we wandered off to pick up our finisher’s swag.  Ultimately, we ended up with a generous packet (registration was $35 SGD/$28 USD):

Shirt, medal, mooncake. towel, dry bag, and hat (from Yellow Ribbon formation).

Shirt (received before the race), medal, mooncake. towel, dry bag, and hat (from Yellow Ribbon formation).

We skipped the massage tent (long line) and kids’ activities (no kids), but walked through several exhibits describing the goals of the Yellow Ribbon Project and profiles of several ex-offenders who went through YRP programs.  In fact, several of these folks were there in person to interact with participants and spectators.  Quite a lovely personal touch, if you ask me!

Eventually, we gave in to the announcer’s pleas for participants to help form the “biggest Yellow Ribbon ever in Singapore”.  We each received an enormous yellow cap, and joined other supporters “inside” the ribbon.

Inside the ribbon, sporting the ever-trendy double-cap look!

Inside the ribbon, sporting the ever-trendy double-cap look!

Final Yellow Ribbon Formation

Final Yellow Ribbon Formation

I’d never been part of a human ribbon formation before, so was strangely excited over the whole thing.   Unfortunately, the announcer was having trouble rallying enough participants in to fill out the ribbon.  [KMN and I joked that they should have made post-race goodie bags contingent on participation in ribbon formation.  More realistically, though – offering participants an extra mooncake might have helped – Singaporeans are ridiculously motivated by free gifts, and by food.  Free food probably would have done the trick.]  But eventually, they managed to rally 1,200 people “into” the ribbon.  We waved our caps, jumped up and down, and were captured on camera.

The dark clouds persisted, and we feared we’d get caught in a downpour at any moment.  We collected our checked bag – the lines from earlier were considerably reduced, so this only took a moment – and headed up to the shuttle buses.  We were a bit overwhelmed to see the lines for the shuttle:

Behind the port-o-potties, through the fence, is the long, snaking line to the shuttle buses (it went up, and down again).

Behind the port-o-potties, through the fence, is the long, snaking line to the shuttle buses (it went up to the left, and then back down to the right, where the buses were).

Again, though, there were lots of buses, which departed as quickly as participants filled them, and what could have been a logistical nightmare ran smoothly, and before we knew it, we were back at the MRT station making our way home…just in time for the clouds to open!  It was like the organizers had everything under control – including the weather.

And the final pleasant surprise from the run came the next day, when the results were posted.  They turned out to be the coolest, most interactive results I’ve ever seen.  You can play with them yourself here (you can use my bib number, 17153), or just take a look at a few screen grabs I took analyzing my data.

My finishing places, displayed using Net Time, but with Gun Time places shown in conversation bubbles.

My results, displayed using Gun Time, but with Net Time places shown in conversation bubbles.

Estimate of my location on the course when the winner, gender winner, and division winner crossed the Finish Line.

Estimate of my location on the course when the winner, gender winner, and division winner crossed the Finish Line.

There is no doubt that I’ll be returning to this race.  The organization was fantastic – from the shuttle buses to the course markings (6K/10K splits) to the cheerleaders and other volunteers, execution was pretty much flawless.  I enjoy supporting a worthy cause, and I appreciate the education/publicity efforts the Yellow Ribbon Project made, both online and at the post-race Carnival.  Their presentation of information about their work and profiles (and presence!) of those who have been through their programs, definitely brought the program to life, and made my support seem all the more worthwhile.  Thank you, Yellow Ribbon Run team & volunteers!

If you want to read what other people had to say about the race, check out:

Multiple yellow lines: a weekend two-fer (by GCA)
Yellow Ribbon Prison Run Race Results and Review (on Everything You Want To Know And More)
The 2013 Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2013: My Reflections (by Priscilla)
Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2013: A Race Laced With Grace (by Gideon Ren on RunSociety’s blog)
[Contact me if you are a blogger who has published a post on the race, so I can add your link to this list.]

*I was offered a free entry to the race to be a part of the Yellow Ribbon Run’s Social Media Team.  I declined, as I’d already paid my own entry (it’s against my policy as a blogger to accept comped products, and I think this applies to race entries too, although I’m not entirely sure yet), but noted that I would be blogging about the event anyway.  I was offered (and accepted) a “Goodie Bag”, containing a press release, pen, and jump drive. [Maybe I should have declined this, too?  I’m so confused.]  The only item I have used so far is the press release, which influenced this post only in as much as it provided a few facts that I shared at the start.  The rest of the post is one lengthy lump of my honest opinions.

What race(s) do you run, regardless of timing/training, just because you support the cause?

Thoughts on accepting comped race entries?
[How about in light of the fact that I don’t accept comped material goods?  Same? Different?  I’m just trying to figure all this out, guys.]

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  1. Isaac976 September 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Sweet write up Holly, judging from your timing you are no weekend warrior and weaving in and out of while starting from the back of the crowd just tires me out. but its all fun and for a good cause, Do say hi to me when I see you on the running circuit.

    I have a few events this week which will be the Cold Storage Tri, hope to see you there, if not then it will be the Mizuno Wave run in Oct or Salomon in Nov. Train safe and have fun.


    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Isaac, thanks for stopping by! I definitely enjoyed reading your race recap, and your coincidental pacing of one of the leading women, too! Hope your injury heals up soon….

      You are indeed correct – dodging and weaving is not the best use of energy (nor am I a weekend warrior 🙂 ), but sometimes the crush of people at the middle/front is just too much for me. I was born & raised a country girl, after all! I’m just a Singapore transplant… 🙂

      I’m currently registered for TNF 50K on Oct. 5, which will be the culmination of my training from the last few months. After that – we’ll see what the rest of 2013 holds! I’m going to try to get out to cheer at the tri this weekend, although I’m not quite sure which day (or both); I’m thinking about Salomon in November, but after the pseudo-trail “Salomon Vertical City Challenge” a few weeks ago, I want to make sure it’s a genuine TRAIL run, first!

      Regardless, I’m certain we’ll cross paths out on the racing circuit somewhere. I’ll keep an eye out for you, but truth be told – I’ll be much easier to spot than you – so you do the same, OK? 🙂

  2. Kate September 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    First – side note, I love your clear policy on blogging/racing. It’s not the same as mine, but total respect!

    Second – congratumalations!!!!

    Third – The best line in this is about your client crossing the line, That would have had such an incredible impact for him, and the fact that yu were there to see it is amazing!!!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 26, 2013 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Hahaha – I’m just figuring it out as I go along, and as I admit, it’s not totally clear (even to me). I don’t do products, but am less sure about race entries – and REALLY unsure about a company or race that wants to work with me to run a give away of a product (or race) that I’ve independently reviewed and feel comfortable promoting. This isn’t a legal issue, just a “What do I want to do/be, and how does this affect that”. [Obviously still sorting parts of this out.] And I fully believe each blogger has to work this out for him/herself – my decision is for me, not anyone else – and it’s definitely a tricky/conflicted one.

      I love watching “my” runners cross finish lines even more than I love crossing a finish line myself! It’s like…endorphins and excitement, so many times over!

  3. Amy September 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    I am not a fan of the idea of people going out of their way to get a comped race entry, but I think a few here and there that are offered to you are fine as long as the entire blog does not turn into a big advertisement/infomercial. And I do think you can give honest opinions about races even with a comped entry. That being said, I don’t like a lot of attention and I would feel uncomfortable if I felt I was receiving extra attention because I was a blogger.

    • Amy September 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Oh and great race, by the way!

    • Grace September 26, 2013 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Great recap! I’ll be back next year 🙂

      You all already know how i feel about comped stuff. That’s just a personal choice – I won’t do it because I personally trust those reviews slightly less, and because it’s harder for the regular person reader – who pays for his or her stuff – to relate. I agree with Amy though, it doesn’t stop me reading well-written, funny blogs, but it annoys me when the whole blog turns into sponsored nonsense.

      I’m doing the sprint tri on Saturday – come cheer at that! 😀

      • Holly @ Run With Holly September 26, 2013 at 11:39 am - Reply

        Like I’ve said – I think the relationship I’d develop in negotiating for stuff-for-review would make me feel bad smashing something I didn’t like. I might still give a negative review, but could see myself tempering it. That doesn’t seem fair, so I’m quite sure I have to avoid this realm.

        I don’t worry that much about relate-ability; people do and don’t relate to different things in someone’s life. I live in Singapore; tons of my readers live in the US. Does that mean they can’t relate to me most of the time? I’m an American living in Singapore; does that mean Singaporeans can’t relate to me most of the time? I don’t like beef; does that mean beef-eaters can’t relate to me most of the time? People read because SOMETHING connects with them – but that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING has to connect.

        As I said to Isaac – I’m thinking about going down to cheer for the Tri, just not sure when. I was thankful I had a PhD when it came time to read the schedule of events for the day. Good golly, could that have BEEN any more complicated? [Answer: Yes. It’s a lot of info, but at least it was organized.]

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 26, 2013 at 11:04 am - Reply

      Mmmm – I definitely think the attention part is true. Not necessarily because of personal discomfort, but because it prevents you (or me, or any blogger) from experiencing the race like every other person. As tempting as it is, I would definitely have to eschew any VIP treatment in order to write an objective review.

      I think the other part is that, even though my desire to report accurately far outweighs any “obligation” I might feel for getting a comped entry, I would still feel a little bad totally trashing a race that I didn’t enjoy/was mismanaged. If I pay the entry, then I’ll write whatever I darn well please, without a second thought.

  4. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama September 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Great recap Holly! LOVE the cool human yellow ribbon pic. That’s pretty awesome and love that you signed up to support a great cause, even though it didn’t really fit in with your training plan.

    Comped race entries. Hmmm, I guess it depends on the situation. Agree with Amy that you can still do an honest assessment even if you’re compenstated for a post, but I don’t like the idea of fishing for free entries/stuff. I’ve done some product reviews on my blog, but I’ve never been comped for a race. I strive to keep my reviews honest and fair because I don’t want to lose credibility with my readers. To keep it real, I always point out the things I don’t love about a product. But I really love the process of reviewing a product and writing about it, so I try to work with brands/products that I love or am interested in learning more about. One of my dream jobs would be a gear tester/writer for one of the big adventure companies/brands! How awesome would it be to travel the world and test out gear?!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 26, 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply

      I think credibility is a big part of it for me, and, as I said to Amy, guilt I might feel for smashing a product I didn’t like. And let’s be honest – I’m not sure I trust the “people pleasing” side of me to be totally objective in evaluating a product I was given (especially if I didn’t like it). Assuming I’d had some correspondence with a company rep, etc. etc. etc – I’d feel a connection to this person, and don’t want to throw them under the bus. While I wouldn’t lie, I could certainly see myself softening the truth – and that’s not a trap I want to worry about. So (I think) this is what works for me.

      [On the devil’s advocate side, I pay for my blog, hosting, etc. – and keep advertising off for a cleaner user experience. Why shouldn’t I get something for my efforts? Because obviously, free stuff is tempting. Oh, so tricky….]

      PS Sounds like a great job! If I hear of anything in that department, I’ll let you know! 🙂

  5. Tina@GottaRunNow September 26, 2013 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Sometimes running for a good cause makes a race more special than others. There’s a race I like to run because it supports adoption. The Houston Marathon has the same kind of interactive results as the race that you ran – nice! Congrats on the finish!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 26, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

      You’re totally right – and in a place where there aren’t many fundraising runs, I was just happy to see one – and had to do my part to support!

  6. Kristen L September 26, 2013 at 2:25 am - Reply

    I don’t like when blogs go crazy with the promos and advertisements. But, I’m ok with a few here and there.

    Though it’s not a running race, my husband and I have done the Tour de Cure, a bike ride to raise funds for diabetes for the past few years. I think we would participate whether we had time to train for a longer route or not because the cause is important to us.

    Glad you had a fun and strong race, even if you were dodging people in the beginning. I have done one race with finish stats like that before, but I can’t remember now which it was. Pretty cool!

  7. evilcyber September 27, 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Forgive me for asking, but what is a “mooncake”? From the picture I first thought it was a condom and asked myself what happens during Singapore runs that they hand those out 🙂

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Hahahaha – OK, fair question, EC. [Although I’ll admit I had to check you out to see if this was just some kind of cleverly worded spam. Looks like you’re legit, though. 🙂 ]

      And I should have explained a bit more clearly – mooncakes are Chinese cakes that are shared during the mid-autumn festival (not that there’s any real ‘autumn’ in Singapore, but it’s a Chinese tradition). They are small patties of lotus or red bean paste (usually), covered with a thin layer of pastry. Usually, they are about 3-4″ in diameter (meant to be cut up and shared), but since this race fell during mid-autumn festival, they gave out mini, individually pre-packaged mooncakes. I haven’t eaten mine yet, so will include a better photo in an upcoming post. Thanks for stopping by – and for asking a great question!

  8. Meagan September 30, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I still can’t get over the fact that in Singapore it’s the norm to wear the race shirt for the race. I understand why the race director requested it for this run. Aside from concerns about chaffing and the like, I just feel like it’s bad luck to wear the shirt for a race I haven’t completed, yet. The difference in running/road race culture between the U.S. and Singapore is really interesting to me (wearing the race shirts and cheering being uncommon) and I love reading about it through your race reports. Can you tell I had a brief fling with sociology in my school days? 🙂

    I can’t stand food smells during a race, either! Nothing smells good to me during a race and I despise all foods that have a smell.

    Hmmm I think I’m okay with comped race entry fees in return for talking about the race on your blog, but I’m not really for comped material goods. No one has offered me either, so I haven’t had to truly figure out where I stand 🙂 I think either way, it’s a personal choice and as long as you are honest/up front about it then it’s all good.

    • Holly @ Run With Holly September 30, 2013 at 10:29 am - Reply

      I’ve lived here a year, and STILL marvel/learn from/am fascinated by the cultural differences – in racing and otherwise. There are actually a lot deeper differences in the running/racing culture, too – that I haven’t even begun to discuss, because I’m still trying to figure out. In short, how Chinese culture affects how people interface with athletic endeavors – particularly running – out here. Sooooo fascinating, and as my thoughts crystallize, I need to figure out how to write about it in a clear and culturally-sensitive way (my science training taught me to be blunt, not necessarily culturally-sensitive, in my writing). Because it’s really QUITE interesting (to me, and apparently you, at least!). Briefly, though – the differences go MUCH deeper than whether or not you wear the race shirt to the race!

      I remember a race in Rochester, quite a few years ago, when we ran past my favorite sub shop. The best part of their subs was the fresh rolls they used – and baked, in the shop. Usually, the outlets were filled with the most delicious bread-baking odors. But mid-race, even delicious, bready, yeasty smelling goodness seemed disgusting!

  9. Debbie @ Deb Runs September 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Sounds like a great race! I do enjoy reading your race recaps and feel like I’m running with you every step of the way! 🙂 I agree 100% about not trying anything new on race day, including the race shirt, but I have to admit seeing all of those yellow shirts being worn for such a great cause is pretty impressive. I love the human yellow ribbon photo!

    I just accepted my first two comped products to try and review. One company reached out to me, and I reached out to the other company. The company that I contacted has the product that I’m not too impressed with, so that will be the harder review to write; however, I will be 100% honest with my evaluation. Like you suggested, the pleaser side of me will have a difficult time writing the review. My thoughts would be that a race entry would fall in the same category. If you don’t want to do comped products, I’d say you made the right decision to not accept a race entry.

    One of my favorite things is to watch my clients cross the finish line of a race, especially their FIRST EVER race! It’s just the best feeling, isn’t it?

    • Holly @ Run With Holly October 1, 2013 at 12:11 am - Reply

      The Finish Line is what first got me hooked on coaching. And when I was living in Rochester, I’d coach some pretty large groups (with a team of coaches). I’m talking, like, 300 new runners – holy AMAZING. “Graduation day”, as we called it, was always my favorite!!!

  10. Darryn October 3, 2013 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I also ran the Yellow Ribbon for my second time – and love it to bits.

    Liked your report as well. The other run for a cause that I did last year and enjoyed was the Terry Fox run. Different route to Yellow Ribbon, with some nice views and scenery our round the Marina Barrage.

    As regards your policy of not accepting an entry in return for blogging – as a someone who is in marketing perhaps I can address that a little…

    If I have personally invited you to blog on my race (or product) it is because I like your style, the way you write and what you stand for. I would have selected you for this reason and not for a “puff piece” (I am perfectly capable of writing my own promo and paying to have it listed somewhere that gets far more traffic). With this said – I see nothing wrong with accepting a free entry.

    Also, as you are quite obviously a serious runner – I may well invite you to participate in my race to up the quality of the competition – which has only good benefits for everybody overall.

    Commenting on the wearing of race shirts that has been mentioned – as a weekend warrior myself, and a rather incompetent runner, I wear the shirt for “fun” – to feel part of the team that’s running.

    On the uphill sections – most of my training runs were on the 100% flat Punggol Park Connector, with the only upslopes coming by deliberately running up to the road and back or over one of the bridges – so I certainly noticed them. What made this worse was the pushing of the stroller – so yeah, I felt the uphill!

    In any case – love the review Holly, will be checking in here regularly.

    • Holly @ Run With Holly October 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Darryn! Thanks for stopping by AND taking the time to comment! A lot of my readership is in the US or elsewhere around the world – I love connecting with locals! I don’t race as often as many people do out here; but I do recall the Terry Fox coming and going. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it this coming year – although I’ll admit that I really like the novelty of the Yellow Ribbon course – the Marina Barrage area, on the other hand, is a very frequent race site!

      And genuine thanks for your input on the “blog for review/entry” debate. It’s something that bloggers discuss a fair bit, but usually in an egocentric fashion. (Should I do it? Is it right for me?) I should be clear – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, and I agree – most companies aren’t giving away stuff in exchange for, as you call it, puff pieces. And bloggers are most always explicit: “I was given Product X for review, but the opinions expressed are my own.” I think the companies are generally confident enough in their products that they are willing to open them up for review. [Although this is often offered more broadly than “I like YOUR blog, please review my product.” Sometimes you see the same product pop up on 10-20 different blogs, and/or the distribution to bloggers is mediated by a third party.] I read plenty of blogs that occasionally review products.

      For me, it’s a personal decision, and the one I think is best for my blog. I will likely always refuse product in exchange for review – for several reasons. [Although trust me, it’s very tempting! Running gear and technology is expensive, and I write the blog “for free”, so I’d be lying if I said it didn’t seem like a good deal sometimes!] First of all, I want to ensure to my readers and clients know that I have no ulterior motive when I recommend a product. Second, if I’m honest with myself – I’d have a hard time writing a really scathing review of a product that I hated (even with good reason) if you – as the company rep – and I had made a personal connection while working out the terms of the exchange. As long as you were a generally nice person, I would be reluctant to zing you with a really bad review, even if I hated your product. I would NEVER claim to love it – but I might smooth the edges a bit, due to our personal connection. For me – this is reason enough not to enter such a relationship. If I can’t write about it as if I bought it with my own money, then I’m not a totally unbiased judge. But you do raise some good points and have given me food for thought. Obviously, I’m in the process of working my way through all of this myself. Thanks for your perspective/input.

      Have any races planned between now and the end of the year? [Or perhaps bringing that stroller out to Bukit Timah for some hill repeats? :)]

  11. Portia November 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Love reading your thoughts about product reviews. I don’t do them either, but mostly cause I haven’t been asked. 🙂 maybe I should think about it now just in case…. I do find it offputting when a blog becomes all about product reviews. Thanks for writing about this! And nice race, congrats!

    • Holly @ Run With Holly November 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      It’s a tricky balance, and I’m still trying to figure the whole thing out. Ultimately, though, every blogger needs to find his/her “right” balance. And when a blog goes too “reviewy”….I just click the “Unsubscribe”!

  12. […] about most of the races I’ve done here, although I did really like the Yellow Ribbon Run (here’s my race report) – it’s one of the few fundraisers, it’s run in a totally different location, and […]

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