Super Heroes Race (SHR) 2016 – Up In The Air
What A Difference A Year Makes
Last year’s inaugural Super Heroes Race in Bukit Jalil was a big hit among the 1,500 participants. Apart from the fact that the finishers medals had to be distributed during the race kit collection due to copyright infringement threats, the race went smoothly without a hitch. In particular, the 10KM route was nice, the traffic was well marshalled, and the post-race party was very enjoyable: There were lots of free ice-cream, snacks and drinks on offer, as well as various Kiddies entertainment such as giant balloons and a bouncy castle to keep the children happily occupied. The adults were kept entertained by two young and lively emcees, playing games and music, were gayly giving away prizes to the podium finishers and lucky draw winners. The atmosphere was filled with so much laughter and merriment that no one was in a hurry to go home.
Fast forward to SHR 2016
This year’s second Super Heroes Race is a totally different matter, and it is becoming a regrettable fiasco from the start, and here are some of the major cock-ups so far :-
1) Venue was changed from Putrajaya to MATIC, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. It seems that when title sponsor came on board that they insisted on shifting the venue to their KL centre without any regard to the paying customers who had signed-up in order to run in Putrajaya!
2) The big bomb was announced by Tix Tac (NM Galaxy registration portal) Race Director Ariff Sidek that due to other major event happening in KL on the same day as the race day, 24-April 2016, it was necessary to change the event to 22-May 2016 TENTATIVELY! And what’s more, this announcement was made only 3 days before the initial Race date. Well, this announcement was met with an instant avalanche of condemnation from the participants who vented their anger and frustrations at the poor handling of the situation on the Tix Tax FB page. Why are the participants screaming blue murder? Are they entitled for a refund? How will Race Director handle this, potentially fatal self-inflicted wound? What does all this tell us about the state of Race Organisation & Management? What are the possible effects of this malaise on other Runners, Event Organisers, and on the general running community in the future? Read on to find-out the answers and more insights.
3) The notification for the postponement of the race date was only posted on Facebook. Surely, something as important as this news should have been notified to all the participants by email as well as by SMS too!
4) There were confusions about the postal charges included in the registration fees even though the participants may not have required delivery services.
5) Almost everyone was complaining about the lack of communication and insufficient news updates by the TixTac registration portal. In this case, no news is bad news. A good organiser must be easy to contact, and they will keep their participants constantly updated on any news or behind-the-scenes preparations to assure the runners that everything is going according to plan. The bad organiser never acknowledges receipt of your email, they are slow to reply, and they like to keep you in the dark of the latest developments, or they have nothing to report!
6) The date of the REPC was “quietly” changed to only 2 days instead of the original 3 days, and the timing was also quietly changed to 11am~6pm instead of the more convenient 10am~8pm.
Working Experience Counts
What I have noticed about running events is that mistakes and mishaps are natural phenomena of any event because you cannot totally control the crowd, the crew, the traffic, and you cannot predict human behaviour and not least, our fickle weather. However, some failures are excusable and some are not. Only a truly experienced organiser will know if a risk is worth taking or not. When new & inexperienced Organisers see the huge numbers of runners joining certain events, they are asking themselves, “That looks easy enough, why can’t I organise one like that?” Fatally, perhaps due to being persuaded by the thought of being able to make big bucks, the newcomers fail to realise that it took many years of hard work in the field to gain the necessary experience, and building important relationships with Sponsors, Suppliers and related Government Bodies and Local Municipalities over the years before one is qualified to organise a big event on a big high profile stage. It is best that new players either spend the initial years gaining experience with smaller events and/or engaged with a team of real experts who know exactly what needs to be done to achieve success.
Organising an event with up to 1,500 runners in Bukit Jalil (as in the case of SHR 2015) can be handled by a group of passionate part-timers. However, when you talk about 5,000 Runners (with 5,000 different opinions) in the heart of busy KL, that is a totally different ball game where the risks and rewards are extremely high, and when you play with the Big Boys in their backyard, you can expect for some rough times as NM Galaxy is finding all about it now.
To Change Or Not To Change
Changing event venue is only excusable if there is a suspected bomb threat, and not if a VIP wants to use the same venue for another event. Postponing an event because of unforeseen natural disaster is excusable, but postponing because the organiser failed to realise that the stretch of Jalan Ampang in front of the MATIC race venue is closed every 1st & 3rd Sundays of every month, from 7am to 9am for the well-known KL Car Free Morning, is certainly not excusable.
More Than Money
When an organiser start changing Race Venues and Event Dates, the cost to the participants is not only in monetary terms, but more importantly, the organiser has wasted the time of the participants which nobody on this planet can replace lost time unless they happened to own a time machine. Of course, not to mention the stress and irritation of having to go out of your way to accommodate all these changes about which you were not forewarned when you purchased the admission ticket.
Gloomy Weather Predicted
I was at the first day of Race Kit Collection at MATIC in Jalan Ampang. I won’t say how I felt about the attitude and behaviour of the Race Director, but I can tell you that the volunteers were feeling really embarrassed about the whole unwanted situation, and I can see the utter disappointment in the eyes of the Runners. It seemed that they looked really let down, and there were no smiles and laughter to be heard anywhere in the vicinity. They needed to be consoled. Someone should have been there to put a comforting arm around their shoulder and say,” I am really sorry for our mistake, and as a token of our appreciation for your great support, we would like to give you this small token for a free Subway Sandwich or a pair of Running socks,” or anything. Sadly, all that they received was another double slap in the face as they were told that no refunds will be entertained and that the new race date is not confirmed!
Disappoint The Kids!
I pity the parents who had to break the bad news of the race postponement to their children who must have been looking forward to wearing their Superhero costumes.
I pity the mother who had to sew the capes for her family’s costumes.
I pity the father who had to go to the DIY shop to buy the materials to make the costumes.
I met two friendly middle-aged couple, Sebastian & Mary from KL, who had just collected their bibs. Sebastian told me he is planning to dress-up as Superman as he proudly pointed to the big “S” emblem printed on his T-shirt. Mary had not decided yet on her superhero costume. I thought she would make a great Louis Lane.
Sebastian commented, “I feel more sorry for the outstation Runners, coming from afar like Singapore, Johor and Penang. They have more to lose from the race postponement than us.”
Mary added, “Postponing the race last minute is unfair because the organiser had time since November 2015 to plan for it”.
I also met Nick who had his hands full collecting 20 bibs for his family, his sister’s family and for his friends. Nick said, “My family are only doing the 3km for the children’s enjoyment. I am not sure if I can make the race in May because I will be traveling a lot that month”.
Do The Right Thing
As far as I can see, NM Galaxy and TixTac has two choices. One choice will mean taking a financial loss in the short term, but keeping their self-respect and dignity. The other way will mean a lost in their reputation as an event organiser from which they may never recover, and no one will ever trust them again.
In all seriousness, for the sake of the whole running community, I hope that NM Galaxy and TixTac issue an unequivocal public apology right away to the participants, and man-up by accepting full responsibility for all the failures and for putting the participants through undue hardship and stress. Moreover, the organiser should give back full refund immediately to any participants who officially request for it.
Unfortunately, I really doubt if this organiser is big enough to offer a refund because when I met Race Director Arrif, he was still blaming the Authorities for the race postponement – I rest my case..
Deserving Common Courtesy
For your information, I have sent a copy of this posting directly to the Co-Founders of NM Galaxy and TixTac at the same time that I posted it because I know them personally, and they are genuine guys who are trying their best to give Runners the best experience, and they deserve the courtesy of hearing about my harsh criticisms first hand.
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and a HIIT Fitness Coach. As a sports writer, he has contributed numerous insightful articles to The Star newspaper, Running Malaysia magazine, Cycling Malaysia magazine, Cycling Evolution magazine, Swim Bike Run magazine and more. LIKE Happy Runner and follow gusghani @Instagram.