Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2012 (SCMS 2012)

SCMS 2012 took place on 2 December 2012, Saturday.

I was in the midst of examinations then and had a paper two days after the event. Even now, I am still at a loss as to what had spurred me on to sign up as a volunteer.

When I read about it in the monthly newsletter sent via email, I actually messaged a few friends of mine to see if they are interested. There was a strong desire in me to attend the event but I was kind of reluctant to sign up for it alone.

In the end, Alicia and Sondra, two “flowers” from my polytechnic clique agreed to join me. I could not deny that I was surprised when Sondra expresses her willingness to participate for she is the type of girl who avoided the sun at all cost. She had herself covered with sunblock 24/7, slightly exaggerated by me. Sondra said she just wanted to do a good deed when in actual fact she had already completed one. However, I am thankful to have their company.

On November 9, I registered with before proceeding to create a group for Alicia and Sondra to join as it is mandatory to register with prior to signing up for any particular event. The advantage of registering as group is to ensure that the three of us would not be separated should we be reassigned when the need arises. A group name along with description were required and thus I thought of a Japanese word, “Hana” – the romanji for flower, which I thought was very suitable as our clique of five is dubbed as the “5 Flowers” ever since polytechnic days. As for the group description, I borrowed the line from the Powerpuff Girls’ – “Sugar, spice and everything nice.” Everything that needs to be done on our part was settled by Nov 14.

During the process of signing up, we were asked to indicate our preferences with regard to positions that we would like to volunteer for. Our first and second preferences were Start Point Crew and Athletes Welfare Crew respectively. Yet, there were no news for about a week after registering. I panicked whenever Alicia and Sondra have questions for me via whatsapp. Being the person-in-charge for the group, I knew nothing at all! On the website, it was stated that there would be a mandatory three-hours training session to be announced at a later date. But the webpage was not updated and it was still status quo as the date draws near.

Impatient, I emailed Jamie on Nov 21, who then replied on the same day, saying our confirmed role was (Area A) Aid Station Crew H1 as well as informing us that the briefing slides and volunteer crew handbook will be send to us once they are ready.

Days passed without any updates. With less than one week left, I had no choice but to disturb Jamie again with an email on Nov 27. She replied the very next day, apologizing for the delay and promising to get the in-charge to send the necessary information. Shortly after, I received an email from Henry (Singapore Sporting Council) which had the briefing slides attached to it as well as reporting details, important information and bank information. I am glad there’s finally news but Allow me to side-track, Henry ought to change the contents in the default email which is automatically sent to anyone who emails him when he is not in office.

“From 26 Nov to 3 Dec is the event week of the marathon, as such I may be out-of-office at most times and will not be able to response to email promptly.

For any urgent matters, I am contactable via mobile.”

How could anyone call him without knowing his mobile number? Oh, seriously.

Back on track, I am really fuming when I saw this sentence, “You should have already been contacted by your leader. Please acknowledge your attendance for the event day by sending an SMS to your leader if you have not done so.” Who is Ronney and why hasn’t he contact me yet?

He did, by emailing each and everyone of us on the night of Nov 28.

Enough of the build-up, time to talk about the event day itself.

Time & Date: 0115hrs, 2 Dec 2012

Venue: F1 Pit Building

There were complementary shuttle bus services for volunteers, with pick-up points at five selected train stations, namely Tampines, Hougang, Bishan, Jurong East and Choa Chu Kang. 5 bus departure timings – 0000, 0045, 0100, 0200 (last bus to F1 Pit) and 0245. The shuttle bus service line – Various pick-up station -> F1 Pit Building (One Raffles Link Bus Stop) -> Esplanade Park (Temasek Ave B04 Bus Stop).

The three of us live in the East and Tampines MRT Station is no doubt the nearest pick-up point. We decided to board the 0000 bus and agreed to meet at 2345. Alicia reached first, then me and Sondra arrived after 2345. I never imagine that I will ever hear announcements being made about the last train departing given that I sleep early and rarely stay out in the night. On board the bus, I sat beside Cheryl (if I didn’t hear wrongly) of H2, who was also heading to F1 Pit Building.

The journey took about half an hour instead of one as specified in the slides. I tried to catch a nap but the backrest of the seat was not high enough for me to rest my head. Boo. And the conversation between Cheryl and I was dead as soon as we finish introducing ourselves. Why wasn’t there a three seater?

When we reached, we had to walk a short distance before arriving at the holding area. We queued to register and collect goodie bags, shirts and Christmas’ headgear. Each of the goodie bags consists of mainly refreshments such as bottles of mineral water, cans of H20, breads, cakes and energy bars to keep us hydrated and satiated throughout the event.

My headgear. Alicia & Sondra got the reindeer headgear that I yearn for.

Given the size of volunteers present, the toilets there could not possibly cater to all. Perhaps that is why all are locked. There were two enclosed areas functioning as the so-called “changing areas” for both male and female respectively. No changing room, simply open spaces. Alicia, Sondra and I promised to face away from one another while changing. Thank goodness we changed early as there was a big crowd as soon as we made our way out.

We waited somewhere middle of the holding area, basically following leader’s instructions received in the form of mass-sent text messages. In the meantime, we explored the contents of the goodie bag and had fun with the headgears given. Perhaps Ronney came late and had to queue for the items that were distributed to volunteer leaders. We waited for nearly an hour before he came to lead to the area where the group gathered. The three of us were the older ones in a group which consisted mainly of secondary students. As the norm, there were ice-breakers for us to know each other’s names in this big group of 21, although it says 18 in Ronney’s mass email. After which he told us that our crew is in charge of the mineral water station and we could be dismissed as early as 0730 as it is located near the starting point. Just as the trio let out a sigh of relief and joy, bad news came. Members from this abnormally bigger-than-average crew have to be reassigned to another crew which is short-handed at the moment. I suppose the group of three is just nice. But I am irritated that Ronney pronounced our group name as henna! It is HA-NA.

I gave my number to the new person-in-charge over the phone who said he will call in a few minutes’ time. Minutes became hours. Yet, my phone did not ring. No calls. The different crews were getting into position and waiting for their respective shuttle buses to arrive. Soon, most of them were gone by around 0400. Bored and disappointed, we started to take photos of the surrounding, focusing on the lighted Singapore Flyer together with the Christmas tree. And I wonder how we actually started to talk about Teletubbies.

Taken with Nokia E7.
The empty F1 Pit Building.
View of Sports Hub (under construction) from the area outside Stadium MRT Station

Man, this is long-winded. Why not take a look at Alicia’s concise account of the volunteer experience – SCMS 2012?

Imagine my surprise when I saw the following while completing the post-marathon survey. Why aren’t we called up for the briefing?

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