Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday party was a one-of-a-kind experience! And yes, it revealed the ugly side of Singapore society once again. Given that Hello Kitty is such an internationally well-received character, I am not sure how the world will look at Singapore after this. Probably disgusted with a 1st world country with 3rd world behaviour over a fictional cartoon.
Photo credit:Alessandro Migliorisi‘s facebook post
To get a sense of how frustrating the event was (according to the majority), you can just hop over to Hello Kitty Run Singapore’s facebook page and read the flood of angry comments ranging from poor crowd management, poor communication, poor contingency plan, shortchanging runners the distance of the route, asking for refund, the screwed up medal distribution process and the carousell screenshots where runners already started selling their medals. Not gonna elaborate on that since those comments will take days to summarize, but you get the idea.
Anyway I was in the 3rd batch of runners who unfortunately, ran (more of walked) in the rain. By the time we reached the starting point to prepare for flag off, the skies were already overcast.
And then that was when the chaos started. Probably the organisers (Pink Apple) were also caught offhand by the rain and didn’t execute their wet-weather plan successfully. Yay for no lightning/thunder though.
Honestly it was an exciting (for the lack of a better word) walking in the heavy rain getting drenched and splashing about in puddles. Kudos to those who really ran and the volunteers who stood in the rain to cheer people on, although I was hoping that the organisers would include a poncho in the race pack. It seriously doesn’t cost much out of the millions of profit they earned from the event. Ironically, the volunteers wore ponchos. (Okay fine I brought an umbrella but still…)
Back to the route… at the 1.6km mark (distances are marked out in 800m blocks), balloon sculptures were erected as photo taking spots. Everyone just whipped out their phones to take photos in the rain.
After that… yeah there isnt much to elaborate about the route except for the hydrating stations where the volunteers painstakingly poured water into plastic cups from 1.5l ice mountain bottles and handed them to the runners. The finishing point was around 3.6km instead of 5km due to the weather and safety precautions (I guess), so to those feeling shortchanged about the distance, you obviously don’t want more people to slip and thus increase the casualty rate and complaints. Yes?
The medal distribution was plain hellish.
1. Braved the massive human jam at Silver Pavilion (no crowd control somemore) which is near the finishing point
2. got directed to SOMEWHERE on the beach
3. Everyone just swarmed to the red tent near the stage. Another human jam
4. Got “commanded” by this girl crew who probably need some stress-management course
5. Medals ran out
6.Emcee tried to salvage situation revealing that runners from previous batches took more than 1 medal and sold them on carousell, causing the shortage.
7. Divert the crowd again by saying that the distribution point will be shifted to another place, which is “somewhere on the way home”. Thanks for the hint ah.
8. “SOMEWHERE” on the way home is back at Silver Pavilion
While typing this, I couldn’t help but imagine that we probably looked like this, but in a 1st world context.
Didnt check social media platforms at that time so I wasn’t aware that people already started selling the medals online. But I was totally disgusted with their behaviour of taking more than what they deserve at the expense of other runners, and trying to make monetary profit. Heard that non-participants who went for the beach party (because it was open to public) also took the medals.
You might be wondering how that was possible since non-participants don’t have the race bib yes?
Apparently the crew didnt make any markings on the race bibs during the medal collection! Basically you just flash them your bib and they will pass you the medal. With the enormous amount of human flow, someone can just collect the medals repeatedly because even the volunteers can’t even remember who took the medal or not. The non-participants can just get the bib randomly from the runners and then pose off as the participant. Talk about exploiting the system.
And I thought it was common sense for run organisers to set up a monitoring system of checking whether participants indeed aren’t taking a second-helping or 100th helping of what they are entitled to.
Back at Silver Pavilion, the volunteers this time didnt even bother to check the bib. Simply put they gave out the medals like flyers. In sum, the medal was cheap and expensive at the same time. Cheap because of the way it was distributed and how the medals ended up on carousell. Expensive because of the frustrations gone through by affected participants in order to get a piece of hello kitty like braving the rain and the crowd, and many more who failed to secure the medal.
So yeah that basically sums up the event because I didn’t stay for the beach party. It was a one-of-a-kind experience. Pink Apple still has much room for improvement, but I can’t believe they really neglected the basic issues like the medal distribution. The 1st wave of runners probably didn’t encounter such problems since they ended the race before it rained, but it was the majority of innocent participants who bore the brunt of selfish people. Judging from the fact that people can buy a dozen of mcdonalds hello kitty with the set meals and sell the toys at inflated prices, won’t the same thing happen since when the medal is of commemorative value? (esp when there is no monitoring of medal collection)
Anyway… happy 40th and 1 week old Hello Kitty! Looking forward to your 45th! (On a side note, I still have the ezlink card holder memorabilia from her 35th HAHA)
P.S Drenched in the rain+ slept at 4am for 2 consecutive nights to rush assignments+ god knows how many hours of insufficient sleep I get a day= sick.