Singaporeans are not very trendy folk. Hip trends from around the world such as food trucks, cross-city biking and locavorism make a meek appearance here from time to time, but don’t really stick, and the only stuff that get people excited can sometimes be bizarre (such as a certain mouthless cat from Japan).
But there is one obsession Singaporeans are happy to get behind: marathon running.
Not only have the major runs in town – Sundown Marathon, Standard Chartered Marathon, the Great Eastern Run – been getting increasingly oversubscribed, we are seeing fitness-tracking information as often as we do food photos on Facebook.
The biggest evidence is how people are even starting to inject some of that I-am-doing-this-before-anyone-else-does (kiasu) personality and generating good ol’ hype into these runs (read: the recent Colour Run and October’s Race the Dead).
If you want in on the party and the idea of a nonstop 3km dash across and around hotspots such as the Esplanade scares you to bits, join the club.
And by that, we mean the running club.
Designed to help you interact with people in the scene (not as scarily exclusive as it sounds, we promise) while training you up no matter your fitness level, running clubs are an excellent way to get started on your marathon career.
Read on for a rough guide.
Best for city slickers: Purple Lights
“It’s not really a club; that word makes it sound regimental somehow,” says its newly-appointed captain Corey Chan. Founded by Mark Ong and Sue-Ann Chng, along with Ong’s brother Melvin, the now 190-member-strong Purple Lights has been active for the past two years.
Chan says: “An average of 10 to 18 of us gather every week to run around the Marina Bay Sands area, through Gardens by the Bay toward the Marina Barrage, and back.”
That is possibly the most scenic route in the city and these guys play it up big time by making sure they upload post-run mugshots – often juxtaposed against the skyline – on Instagram.
And why “Purple Lights”?
“The name was inspired by a song Singaporean boys used to sing during our days training in the army to motivate us during our runs or marches. We don’t sing that anymore, but the concepts of company and conservation remain, and that’s what keep us going,” Chan explains.
Purple Lights | Day: Every Wednesday | Time: 7pm | Meeting point: City Hall MRT control station | Fee: None | Registration: Join its Facebook group for the latest updates and turn up at the meeting point.
Best for motivation: Puma Running Club
The newest club on the block sure knows how to keep people running. Launched in early August, the Puma Running Club uses incentives such as free Puma merchandise, store discounts and extended club benefits to get members to return for sessions.
Puma-sponsored running club Team RunFanatics conducts running-specific circuit, conditioning, speed and strength workouts, as well as the run itself, which ranges from 5km to 10km depending on your fitness level.
Note: You cannot turn up late and you are not allowed to wear shoes other than those from Puma. Talk about discipline (and brand promotion).
Puma Running Club | Day: Every Thursday | Time: 7.15pm | Meeting point: Puma Store Marina Square, #02-153/154, Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard | Tel: 6338-7705 | Fee: None | Registration: Email email@example.com by every Wednesday noon with full name, mobile number and UK shoe size (for complimentary rental of Puma running shoes) | www.facebook.com/pumasingapore
Best if you’re plateau-ing: Singapore Shufflers
With more than 1,700 members from five years of recruitment, the Singapore Shufflers are something like a group of mentors.
Got questions on developing and sticking to a training regime that works? Want to be better at pacing and or improve your time? You’ll find answers at their weekly sessions which, in essence, are an exercise in speed work, designed for 5km to 10km runs.
Singapore Shufflers | Day: Every Monday | Time: 7.30pm | Meeting point: MOE running track, Evans Rd. | Free | Registration: Log in to Meetup.com and RSVP on the Singapore Shufflers page
Best for high-achieving runners: MacRitchie Runners (MR) 25
If you’re really just looking to start running regularly or make friends, or both, this one may be a bit much to swallow. For one, you don’t just register for a spot, you “audition” for it.
MR25 recruits new members by holding monthly time trials – in a nutshell, you have to clock 4.6km to 5km in under 25 minutes on a cross-country course. If you pass, you will be streamed into any one of the nine animal bands, with Cheetah being the fastest group and Snail (harsh!) being the slowest.
Once that is done, you will still need to fill up the registration form and send it along with your entrance and subscription fees. All these have to be done within three months from your qualifying time trial.
If you train regularly and want to some supervision to raise your levels, MR25 is perfect. They train at one of Singapore’s most prized green pockets, home to beautiful but challenging routes, and cover distances as far as 35km regularly enough.
MR25 | Day: Every Tuesday and Sunday | Time: 6.15pm (Tues) ; 7am (Sun) | Meeting point: MacRitchie Reservoir Park | Fee: $5-$200 | Visit the MR25 website for the next scheduled time trial and to download the membership form after qualifying | https://www.facebook.com/groups/91760400121
Best for improving your running form: Newton Running Club
This club is run by experienced athletes with ample knowledge of the biomechanics involved in running, as well as injury prevention. If you’re interested in adopting a different running form or just want to learn more about the various stances, this is probably where you should start.
The three-year-old club partners with multi-brand Key Power Sports, with a particular interest in Newton shoes and mid-foot running, a more natural and relaxed running stride that is said to greatly improve stamina. The runs range from 5km to 10km and involve structured training programmes consisting of hill and fartlek (speed drill) workouts.
Newton Running Club | Day: Every Wednesday | Time: 7pm (Be at venue by 6.40pm) | Meeting point: Key Power Sports, #03-137 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard | Free