Venus Run Cheer Squad 2014: JOIN ME!

In March of last year, I ran my first 5K race in Singapore: Venus Run 2013.  This women’s-only race had all of the hallmarks of a standard 5K: It was fast, flat (until a pretty serious climb into the Finish Line), and painful.  One thing noticeably absent, though, was any sort of cheering.  Even as I ran through the finishing chute, right among the Top 10 Finishers (I think I was 11th), no one seemed to be paying any attention, except the announcer.

I realized by then that this was quite normal for races in Singapore.  The volunteers provided directions and water, but not much enthusiasm/cheering/motivation.  [Note: Most race volunteers in Singapore are teenagers completing mandatory or extra-credit volunteer service.  They are plentiful, but most aren’t runners and don’t know how/what/when to encourage runners.  This isn’t their fault, it’s just a fact.]  The spectators were few and far between.  And even other runners kept to themselves after finishing the race.  All of this was a far-cry from the amazing running community that I left behind in Rochester, NY (*waves furiously* HI GUYS!!!!).

So right then and there, after catching my breath, stabilizing my legs, and downing some water, I decided it was time for a change.  I knew that I couldn’t just stand at the top quietly, watching so many people struggling up the slope to the finish.  The field size (~2,000 participants – small, for Singapore) and the location (wide, steep slope to the finish) were perfect for what I had in mind.  So I walked about halfway down the slope and started cheering, clapping, whooping, and just making a general ruckus – the way I learned in Rochester.

And it mattered – I could see a little push, an extra spring, a small smile coming from these ladies in the final meters of a race.  None of these women were “my” athletes – but these are the moments that a coach lives for.  This is why I coach. Why I teach. Why I learn ferociously about the body, how it works, and how to help it work better.  I live for that fire, that glint, and the pride and confidence that burst out when someone tackles a challenge – and crosses the finish line: SUCCESS!

But let’s not get too poetic.  The bottom line is, I stopped caring that “No one in Singapore really cheers,”* and started getting myself out there to cheer.  A crazy white girl yelling non-stop encouragement on a deserted section of a half-marathon course at 6 AM (or 11 PM) certainly garners her fair share of strange looks (and apparently, a bit of gossip as well) – but I don’t care.  I love watching people run, I love sharing their endorphins, and if I can make just one person’s race a little better – fantastic!

I’ve made half-hearted attempts to get other folks out to join me in the past, but nothing really stuck.  But I think the time is right. I think there are other folks – mostly runners – who want to share this experience, and be a part of helping improve someone else’s race experience.  So that (finally) brings me to the details:

Venus Run Cheer Squad 2014!

When: Saturday, March 8 (tomorrow) @ 4:45 PM
Where: Marina Barrage Building, at the bottom of the downslope closest to Gardens by the Bay [It’s a little annoying to get there – directions are here, or if you’re up for a 1.5-2K walk, you can walk from Bayfront MRT.  Look for the tall white woman in the Run With Holly shirt!]
Who: Anyone & everyone.  Family, friends, adults, kids, runners, non-runners…

What To Bring: Enthusiasm, Hydration (for yourself), Noisemakers (cowbell, clappers, etc.)

No experience necessary! We’ll rally up, and I’ll have some signs and a few pointers/suggestions for cheering newbies.  Depending on how many people we have, we’ll divide up and spread out along the latter half of the course.  The route is slightly different this year, but there are still some great cheer spots.  The race is 5K, so everyone should be finished in about an hour (of course, you can leave whenever necessary!).

I hope to see some of you there! =)

[And if you’re racing, feel free to come join us after you cross the Finish Line!]

Ever gone out to cheer for a race before?  Any notable cheering experiences?

Have you ever witnessed really spectacular cheering (either in general at a race, or by a group/individual in particular)?  Tell me about it!

 

*Yellow Ribbon Run and Standard Charter Marathon are two notable exceptions.  I have cheered at neither, but seen – and seen evidence of – plenty of folks cheering at these two events.

28 thoughts on “Venus Run Cheer Squad 2014: JOIN ME!

  1. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    I hope you get a huge turnout of cheerers for the race! The Marine Corps Marathon has two places in particular that are crazy loud with cheering people, and Boston gets extremely loud when running through Wellesley.

    Reply
  2. Char

    I hope you get a whole new movement started in Singapore. It just starts with an idea and someone brave enough to run with it. Good luck and have fun!

    Reply
  3. misszippy

    Save me a spot! Kudos to you. I’m sure people will love it and maybe you’ll even start a trend! I have to say that hands down, the best cheering I have ever experienced is the famous Wellsley section of Boston. You hear it before you see it and you can’t help but get the chills. Then when you pass through it, you can’t help but grin ear to ear. It is the best!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Most of the participants (after they get over their ‘what the HECK??’ confusion) do seem to like it – working to start a trend, but I think that will take time, persistence, and work. Thankfully, I am willing to put in all three. =)

      We’re nowhere near Boston level, but hopefully we helped a few people motor up the big incline on the course this weekend. 😉

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      We were a small but powerful group of three! Would have *loved* to make it four, with you, though! Still, all of your virtual cheers and encouragement served to remind me that I’m *not* crazy in thinking that this could be a reality. Thank YOU!!! =)

      Reply
  4. Kristen L

    Love that you were able to get the cheers going. You rock! Hope it was a great day of cheers! I think it is scientifically proven that motivational cheers/comments can boost your performance! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Meagan

    I hope you had a good turnout for your cheer squad! You may start a revolution in Singapore and the teenage volunteers will catch on. I’ve cheered at a few races before, and I love interacting with people/cheering their name if it’s on their shirt or bib, and seeing that slight smile peek out.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      We were small, but mighty! Hoping to start a ‘revolution’ – but we’ll see. Even though this race had a few other spectators, and some of us were out yelling & cheering, drawing in new participants wasn’t easy. But yes – that little smile, is *totally* worth it! [And I know it’s helped me as a runner in the past, so – pay it forward!]

      Reply
  6. greengirlrunning

    Holly!! I have so much reading to do to get me all caught up with you 🙂
    My favorite cheering experiences were for my friend’s first 50 mile race, most recently, my training partner’s BQ race. Cheering at a 50 miler is just incredible on so many levels. Seeing people at various stages throughout such a long race, and then seeing them cross the finish line is just beautiful. Watching the all emotion, the fatigue, the “kick”, the hobbles, the ear to ear smiles as someone sees that they’ve made their goal, or the utter disappointment when they realize they’ve missed it, at the finish line is really amazing to witness, especially being a runner who gets it. The race I most appreciated spectators/cheer squads at, though, was CIM 2012, aka The Hurricane. Seeing the same groups of 5-6 people at multiple mile markers through to the finish, standing there in the wind and rain for hours was freaking amazing! Even though they weren’t there for me, it made me feel super special 🙂

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      The Finish Line can be amazing…although I do prefer to be in the ‘trenches’ with people while they are gutting out the long, empty, otherwise quiet miles!

      But have you ever streamed the Finish Line of an Ironman? WHOA. Sometimes I even get a little teary!!!!

      Reply
  7. Alyssa

    That’s an awesome idea! I’ve gotten pretty used to tiny, low frills races the past few years – you may have the RD an a handful of other runners cheering for you at the finish – MAYBE, but never spectators. I’ve gotten used to it and now I find the lack of crowds/lower entry fees are well worth the trade off!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I, too, like quiet, no-frills races. I don’t like running under pressure, and find such races are much more comfortable and more fun for me. And I know the environment going in (although NO such races exist in Singapore).

      But it’s crazy when there are thousands of participants in an event (literally – I think the half-marathon I went to cheer for included about 5-8,000 runners, in the half-marathon ALONE!) – and STILL no spectators!

      Reply
  8. HappinessSavouredHot

    I rarely cheer for races as I’m usually the one running! One exception was when I went to cheer for my 9 year-old daughter at her first 5K. She ran it in less than 35 minutes, which really impressed me given her age. I have to say it was nice to be screaming from the sides. I gave it all I had! LOL

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hi, Happiness! Glad you wandered over to check out RWH. I’ll admit – I used to be in the racing shoes much more often myself. But these days, I love running and occasional racing, but am perfectly happy (most of the time) cheering.

      Your daughter is a speed demon – you must be one proud Momma! =)

      Reply
  9. HappinessSavouredHot

    Interesting to know that some types of crowds will cheer more! I have only been on the side of the road once (I usually run!), but I loved the experience. Watching those people run gave me lots of energy, that I transferred into my cheering. Needless to say, it was energetic! LOL

    Reply
  10. Enid Coleslaw

    Oh man. I’m Singaporean and am kinda embarrassed to read this, but not too surprised. I started running a couple years back but have yet to join a race ‘cos I’m too much of a cheapskate, so never realized it was that quiet at races. Glad you were out there to make some noise!

    P.S. Got to your blog by way of Fit and Feminist. Hat-tip for doing an ultra here….I’ve lived here my whole life and running any time beyond 9 a.m. makes me wilt.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Meh, don’t be embarrassed – it’s weird to me, but only because I’m used to something different. Sometimes I get caught in a comparison trap, and that isn’t really fair.

      Glad you found your way to this little corner of the blogosphere! So funny that we live in the same country, yet found each other through a third party’s blog. 🙂

      And you should save your pennies, and run at least one race one day. It’s a totally different experience from a solo workout. May I recommend the Yellow Ribbon Run out by the prison in September? Fundraiser, unique course, biiiiig finish area, decent organization. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Shoe

    Very cool! I never even dreamed that there were people cheering at races before I read yours and Grace’s blogs… When is the optimum time to cheer?

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Optimum time…depends on the race (starting times vary) – but I’d say somewhere about 20% from the end of a half or full marathon. Other considerations for me include: Reasonably easy accessibility, and in a pretty deserted area – so I can scream and yell without disturbing anyone! 🙂

      Reply

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