We ran for a second chance on Saturday.

It is less exciting than it sounds.

Second Chance is the name of an animal organisation formerly known as Paws Mission, which aims to reduce the stray animal population and improve animal welfare in Malaysia through the following objectives:

  • Rehome stray and abandoned puppies and dogs;
  •  Vaccinate and neuter them;
  •  Educate pet owners / adopters on caring for and neutering their pets; and
  •  Raise awareness and advocate for animal welfare among the public at large.

(taken from their website at http://www.pawsmission.com)

It was while we were looking for runs to participate in that we stumbled upon this charity run. Ika was the one who brought the run to our attention. Jocey and Choy Har, who are animal lovers, were game for any good deed to help out animals. Me? I’m not so noble. I just wanted to run.

The charity run, titled Run For A Second Chance, was organised by HELP University student organisation HELPing Paws. Scheduled initially for 2nd August 2014, the run was postponed to 4th October, which allowed us to join the run.

As a college event, it went quite smoothly. The organisers managed to get a number of sponsors for this event, including Eukanuba, MyLens.com.my, RedBox, Farm in The City, and Lost World of Tambun. The sponsor list was continuously growing, right up to the actual day of the event. That’s pretty good for a college event!

run-for-a-second-chance

RUN DAY 4 OCTOBER 2014

Ika, who works in Red Cross International, had received news that she might be deployed to the Philippines, and might not be able to join the run. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it – the deployment was cancelled. She didn’t get to go to the Philippines this time, but we got to keep her this weekend 🙂

So early Saturday morning, we met up for an unhealthy breakfast at McDonald’s. It’s only for a run that we would wake up at 5am on a weekend. The crazy things people do! And there wasn’t even a medal.

Anyway. We then made our way to Lake Gardens. The tiny car park was already filling up as we arrived, but we managed to get a spot that was positioned in a way that allowed a quick exit later.

Due to some issues on the side of the organisers (read below), we weren’t able to collect our race packs before the event. However they did allow collection on the morning itself so that’s what we did.

The term “race pack” gives them more credit than due. It was only a T-shirt. But still, at least we got one. We had registered early enough to be entitled. The organisers had made it clear that although registrations were still accepted even on the day itself, T-shirts were limited and subject to availability for registrations after 16 September. That was fair, because they had to send in the order with the printer early to get the T-shirts before the event.

A quick change and we were good to go!

The compulsory we-fie in the morning before the run!
The compulsory we-fie in the morning before the run!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

So here are my thoughts about the event, from start to finish.

  1. Race pack collection dates kept changing. We had registered via email, and they replied with the info about the collection kit, insisting that NO collection was allowed on the day itself, and we had to collect on 27 September or 3 October only.So Ika offered to pick up the race packs on Saturday 27 September in the morning, because she was planning to go to the lake for a run anyway. But when she got there, she couldn’t find them anywhere. So naturally she gave them a call.Turns out that the organisers had cancelled race pack collection on that Saturday. They claimed an email had been sent out, but nobody had received it. Many others had also come to the lake to pick it up that morning.The only announcement that had been made about the cancellation was this vague post on Facebook, which wasn’t even a clear indication of any cancellation; only that there was race kit collection on 3 October. So of course without the clear indication of any cancellation, many people assumed that collection is still allowed on 27 September, plus, not everyone saw the Facebook post, since Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t exactly make it easy for people to get updates.
    run2ndchance2014-fbannouncement
    If they had put the word “ONLY” in there, as in “Race Kit Collection will ONLY be on 3rd October”, it would have caused less confusion.

    After Ika told them off, they posted the announcement belatedly and sent another email. But by then people were already annoyed because they had made plans for the collection.

    They only put up this announcement after Ika called them to ask where they were.
    They only put up this announcement after Ika called them to ask where they were.

    Even on Friday 3 October, they cut short the collection time “because it looked like it was going to rain”.

    Perhaps they should have chosen a location that would not be disrupted by bad weather in the first place.
    Perhaps they should have chosen a location that would not be disrupted by bad weather in the first place.

    This was also enough to make a lot of people annoyed, because once again plans for collection were ruined.

    The only good thing was that they allowed collection that morning, and the crowd was not large enough to create any chaos.

    I think this mess happened because the people organising it were not professsional run organisers. There is a tendency to change things without much thought to the participants if they are not used to handling things at a professional level. Having said that, the number of signups were not that large to begin with so there was not as much damage done.

    NOT GOOD.

    The four of us in our T-shirts!
    The four of us in our T-shirts!

    Geared up and ready to go!
    Geared up and ready to go!
  2. Attentive volunteers. The red-clad volunteers were almost quite on the ball. They were ready to attend to our questions, and most of them were lively and enthusiastic. Especially the emcee. Who was perhaps a little too hyper.She was so hyper that she scared a few of us off the field, especially when she started shoving the mic in some of the runners’ faces in a spontaneous interview. Some of the other volunteers had a hard time trying to convince us to go back onto the field. Sorry, kids!But still, she did have a lot of energy, which was better than having none. That was a quality needed in an emcee.We could tell that some of the volunteers had no experience being in a run, even as a participant. Some of them were holding arrow signs to show the path to take, and many of them looked bored and unhappy to be standing there. Some were pretty enthusiastic though, by taking photos of the runners and shouting out words of encouragement. Especially the ones who were handing out ribbon markers (blue for the first round, red for the second round); they were good cheerleaders.One volunteer however shouted the wrong words, in my opinion. She shouted, “Faster! Faster!” as opposed to the usual “Keep going! Almost there! You’re doing great!” Having someone shout at you to run faster when you’re so tired makes you want to punch her in the face instead. That’s what personal trainers have no friends. (JUST KIDDING!!)So, MOSTLY GOOD.

    Warm-up session at the field
    Warm-up session at the field
  3. Unclear and inaccurate route info. I saw the map of the run route which was around the lake at Lake Garden, but I didn’t know we had to run two rounds. I only guessed that because I had my pedometer running on my iPhone, and it was only about half the distance when I completed one round.There were no distance markers along the route… but then I think that would be too much work for a charity run. But still, it would have been nice to have an approximate marker, which could be held by the same volunteers who were holding the arrow signs.And there were no cheerleaders at the end of the run. When I was approaching the finish line, there were no people clapping or shouting encouragement, unlike in other races. I’m not saying I need someone to cheer me on, but it would have been nice if there were. Infact, everyone near the finish line looked extremely disinterested (except the photographer, to be fair). When I completed the second round, I actually had to ask a volunteer how many rounds we were supposed to run. He looked startled when I spoke to him, which told me he wasn’t even paying attention to what was happening. So when he told me two, I was like, “Oh… I’m done.” That was the tamest ending to a run, ever.I didn’t mind all that so much, but what really irked me was the distance. The run was advertised as 5.6km, but my pedometer which is GPS-based measured only 4.6km. That’s a whole kilometer short. It was very disappointing to think that I was making excellent time and improving my Personal Record, only to find that the distance was much shorter than expected. I would personally rather run a longer distance than stipulated.I suppose I could have run another round, but there really wasn’t any point.NOT GOOD.

    It wasn't 5.6km! It was only 4.6km :(
    It wasn’t 5.6km! It was only 4.6km 🙁
  4. No bibs, no medals. Well, it was advertised as a fun run. It wasn’t supposed to be a competitive run. By not providing any bibs and medals, there would be less costs incurred, and more money for charity.But the problem is, people can be selfish. They may know money was going into a good cause, but they still want something for themselves; even if it’s something as silly as a medal. This was probably why the number of signups were not that high.Also, some people may have registered but missed the T-shirt deadline, which means that they had nothing to wear to prove their participation. If someone who hadn’t registered just showed up and joined the run, no one would be the wiser. But then there was nothing to gain so frankly it didn’t matter.More money for the animals? GOOD, but not enough motivation for people to sign up.Still, at least there are…
  5. Goodie bags! I didn’t know there were goodie bags, which was a nice surprise. Jocey noticed the blue plastic bags which were at the stall next to the race pack collection table, and she said they must be goodie bags. True enough, they were. We collected them after the race (which makes sense – who wants to run with additional unnecessary luggage?). And the contents were not too bad actually. There were two packs of Ribena, a button badge, a car sticker, and a few vouchers from their sponsors. This bag had much better stuff than goodie bags I’ve received from certain events.GOOD!! 

    The contents of the goodie bag!
    The contents of the goodie bag!

So, as a run, it had a number of shortcomings. But then, that is if we compare it to a regular run, which isn’t very fair. As a college-organised event, I think it went very well. They had a decent number of signups (about 300, although the number of participants who actually showed up seem to be less), and everything went quite smoothly. The volunteers were good, and the small crowd was well-controlled. I know I sound rather critical in my comments above, but these are the flaws I see and I hope the organisers will take it as constructive criticism in order to improve the organisation of their next event.

Well done, HELP students! Overall a successful college event.

The participants in white
The participants in white
The volunteers in red
The volunteers in red
Bumped into Melody here! She was running many rounds around the lake (and not for the charity run) while I was struggling through my two rounds :D
Bumped into Melody here! She was running many rounds around the lake (and not for the charity run) while I was struggling through my two rounds 😀

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