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Amidst the Pandemic, Singapore’s Marathons Undergo Necessary Virtual Pivot

Throughout the calendar year, the sunny island’s obsession with public marathons and cross-country events are often met with devout athletes who wish to test their mettle. It’s no secret that our people love a good sweat and soak.

However, amidst the dangers of hosting mass public events and gatherings, and with infection cases gradually declining since the exit of the ‘Circuit Breaker’ lockdown, it would be presumptuous for events that cater to tens of thousands to be brought back with such haste.

One such marathon that has been a mainstay in the runners’ schedule is the 2XU Compression Run Singapore.

The event has drawn intense numbers over the years, amassing a cult following of enthusiasts not just locally but from the region to participate in its edgy showdown.

Touted to have sold almost 16,000 tickets over 3 race courses — 5km , 10km, and 21.1km — the 2020 edition was originally scheduled for April 2020 at the F1 Pit Building.

As well, organisers had also introduced two new regional legs in Indonesia and Malaysia, to form the Asia series 2020, to commemorate its 10th anniversary. Runners who took part and completed all 3 would be eligible for a limited edition 2XU Conqueror Medal from the respective races that could be combined to form a bigger whole.

But as of July, organisers have released announcements postponing the races to April 2021, in a move that was highly expected.

Previously, similar events like the Osim Sundown Marathon, the Income Eco Run, as well as the Great Eastern Women’s Run were inevitably shelved and moved to 2021, many still going through the motions of processing refunds and questions from ticket holders.

Besides runs, the OCBC Cycle 2020 event has also been officially withdrawn, the 7,000 strong tournament initially postponed till an unspecified ‘later date’ in 2020. With experts reporting that vaccinations will not be massively available at a rapid pace in the near future of 2020, the writing was on the wall for this one a well.

In a media statement, OCBC has reiterated that full refunds will be made by September for registrants.

In a move of good faith, OCBC has allowed an alternative option for a participant’s entry fee to be donated to Care Corner Singapore, OCBC Cycle’s chosen charity, which supports low income and little opportunity families or households in championing access and tools for formal education.

As a pivot to the physical competition, the company has established a virtual set-up, titled the OCBC Cycle 2020 Virtual Ride, which will be held in Novermber.

Consisting of three categories — The Sportive VR (42km), The Straits Times VR  (23km), as well as the Mighty SaversKids VR (5km or 800m), it seems like the company and its sponsors have teamed up to provide the public a safer, less centralised, and non-tangible model of their competition.

In this edition, cyclists who cover the entire distance in their chosen categories, even in indoor bicycles, will automatically be considered to have completed the ride.

All of this information must be tracked by a workout app or fitness tracker on their smartphones, and participants are not required to execute the entire distance in one sitting.

Following completion, an OCBC Cycle 2020 medal and tote bag will also be posted via mail to entrants.

It’s a welcomed move by its organisers, who seek to retain brand loyalty amidst the fallout of public participation and inactivity.

Koh Ching Ching, who is the head of group brand and communications at OCBC Bank, said that without sacrificing the safety of participants, they still “hope to bring the joy of cycling to the community via the virtual ride format”.

“People deserve to have something they can get excited about during this challenging time.”

The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) is perceived to be making an announcement in a similar vein soon, with Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Tech Yin hinting that virtual engagements for the competition are likely.

Last year, the SCSM attracted over 50,000 participants, with more than 70,000 supporters cheering their loved ones on from spectator zones.

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