Novelty runs in Singapore are drawing runners out for the experience. By Gurveen Kaur
You will get a glow after the Skechers Blacklight Run Singapore, and it is not just from exercising. PHOTO: ORANGE ROOM
Singapore is a nation of avid runners, judging by the proliferation of marathons, fun runs and races on the event calendar.
Seven months into the year, about 60 runs have taken place and at least 40 more are locked in till the end of the year.
As more runs are introduced each year, the options get quirkier. This is because organisers are moving beyond the classic competitive model and tapping into a new market of amateur runners out for a good time.
Participants can now bounce across giant inflatables, get blasted with UV neon glow powder or meet popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.
Typically 5km or less in distance, these fun runs are not so much about racing to the finish line, but about enjoying the experience.
Ms Michelle Ng, marketing manager at events management company Pink Apple, says 60 per cent of the runs it holds are fun runs. Pink Apple specialises in organising sports events.
Over the years, the company has introduced new runs such as the Batman V Superman Run and My Little Pony Friendship Run, where comic and cartoon characters are mascots in the race.
Participants are willing to fork out money for the fun run events too. At times costlier than a competitive run, registration for a fun run typically starts at $50 and can go up to more than $100, with the promise of goodie bags containing exclusive merchandise.
Consumers are willing to stump up as they may feel that the fee is justifiable, says Dr Dianna Chang, a lecturer in the marketing programme at SIM University's School of Business.
She adds: "Runners are paying for the experience and they also get souvenirs."
But the running scene is getting crowded.
One challenge is picking the right event date and venue, says Mr Jeffrey Foo, managing director of Infinitus Productions, organiser of The Straits Times Run In The City 2016, Great Eastern Women's Run and Illumi Run.
Fighting for sponsorship is another battle, says Mr Elvin Ting, managing director of Orange Room, organiser of the upcoming Skechers Blacklight Run, a 5km night run where participants are showered with neon powder that glows under UV light.
He says: "Everyone is fighting to work with the same few companies so we need to offer fresh ideas that stand out."
Organisers say that on average, a six-figure sum is the minimum amount needed to hold a run.
Nonetheless, more people continue to sign up for runs each year. Ms Ng of Pink Apple notes that the average number of runners signing up for the company's events last year rose to 7,500 from 7,000 in 2014, and 6,300 in 2013.
The largest marathon in town, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, had an attendance of 50,000 in each of the last two editions.
New organisers are entering the scene too. JRL Concepts, the company that manages website JustRunLah, is co-organising its first run, The Performance Series, this year.
The concept is, instead of signing up for one run, participants can sign up for a bundle of five runs spread out throughout the year in different settings.
Some of the locations are far away from the typical marathon venues of Marina Bay and East Coast Park.
So far, two of the runs have taken place at Coney Island and Punggol Waterway in May and at Jurong Lake Park last month.
The company's director Liu Zhiyong says: "People are always hungry for new experiences."
Next: Which run should you join?