SINGAPORE: Some participants of the 2017 OSIM Sundown Marathon, said to be Asia's biggest night run, were irked after they had to queue for more than two hours outdoors to collect their race packs.
Local and overseas runners were given the option of collecting their race entry packs - which include their race bibs, singlets and timing chips for competitive categories - at a night sports carnival at the F1 Pit Building from Tuesday (Mar 21) to Friday. Overseas runners can also collect their race packs at the same location on Saturday, race day.
For the marathon's 10th edition, a new option of collecting the race packs through vending machines at four shopping malls - One KM Mall, Velocity@Novena, City Square Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza - was introduced. The website states that this arrangement is on trial and with limited stocks, and provides a web portal for participants to check on the status of the machines and the available sizes before heading to the malls.
However, the organisers received a flood of irate comments on their official Facebook page complaining about long waiting times outdoors as well as vending machines running out of stock.
One Facebook user, Nicholas Chan, said it was the "worst race pack collection ever" and said it was the last time he would be participating in the race.
"Never had to queue for Sundown race pack collection for the past 2 years! This year I have queued for almost 3 hours!!! This is insane!"
Another participant, Joan Tan, wanted to know if there would be a refund for her carpark fees. "I anticipated a much quicker race pack collection process. Unfortunately this wasn't the case," she wrote.
In a post on the page on Thursday, Sundown Marathon founder Adrian Mok apologised for the "long waiting time" for those collecting their race packs on Wednesday and Thursday.
"As shared earlier, our team was introducing a new system to facilitate the collection process. However, our system and plan was unable to handle the load, resulting in a long waiting time," he wrote.
This year, the organisers are printing the race bibs on an on-demand basis rather than pre-printing them based on registered participants. This is to reduce "bulk printing wastage" and to allow participants to register the day before the race, he said in the post. It is also in line with the marathon's partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to encourage environmental sustainability, he added.
Many criticised this initiative and questioned whether the additional waiting time was justified by sustainability objectives.
"Obviously printing the bibs at the spot is a bad idea to comprise the sustainability purpose. It looks to me wasting other resources instead e.g. electricity in order to save the paper," Joyce Liu commented.
Another Facebook user, Ronnie Karim, said in response to Mr Mok's post: "Your initiative to reduce wastage in line with WWF has led to many lost hours, if you total up every individual participant who averagely waited 2-3 hours just to collect their RP (race packs) doesn't justify. Simply not SMART!"
Some participants reacted more positively. A runner going by the name Sg Jac on Facebook thanked Mr Mok for his clarifications in the post. "Thanks to your team members, who carry on working things out under pressure," he wrote.
Another participant, Ching Ming Hsieh, said he was happy with his experience at the race pack collection, where volunteers gave out umbrellas to shield participants from the sun.
"My daughter was feeling hot so the volunteers gave her gummy bears," he said, adding that he was looking forward to the run.
In his post, Mr Mok said that his team would reflect on the concept for the marathon and learn from the experience for next year's race.
"I seek your understanding and patience with our volunteers, service providers and staff. This team is working very hard to resolve the issue," he said.