Men’s Health Women’s Health (MHWH) Night Run 2016 by AIA Vitality – UPDATE
In 2015, the ever popular Men’s Health Night Run in Putrajaya reached its peak at 7,500 participants. Behind the scenes, a changing of the guard from the previous Event Owner, Blu Inc., to Mongoose Publishing, the new Malaysia representative of the international Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine franchise, was completed. Fortunately, the new event owner offered the same race package to the runners as in previous years, and they maintained the same race format with the same race fees. The transition seemed hunky-dory and smooth.
The Year 2016 marks another, even greater transformation for MHWH Night Run, and this time, the changes would have a great impact on the runners, themselves, for better or for worse.
In fact, I had attended their media launching in January 2016 where Mongoose Publishing grandly declared that MHWH Night Run 2016 would now encompass 3 races at 3 different venues – Penang, Putrajaya and Johor – and all 3 events were to be staged within 12 months. Furthermore, a new 21km category was added on top of the 12km and 5km categories.
Backed by the new Title Sponsor, AIA Vitality, Mongoose Publishing made it clear that the MHWH AIA Vitality marketing bandwagon were ready to spread their joint message of the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle, beyond the administrative capital of Putrajaya, to Penang and Johor. How will the running public react to what is essentially an overhaul of the preceding Men’s Health Night Run? Let’s take a closer look…
The biggest shock of the revamped MHWH Night Run announcement was the significant hike in its new registration fees. The ensuing outcry by the running community and their complaints against the price increases were explained away by the organiser who pointed-out that their Goodie Bags alone are worth RM750. Unfortunately, most of the so-called goodies were in the form of lame discount vouchers courtesy of the sponsors.
Another disappointment was the inferior quality of the event T-shirt and medal compared to the previous years.
Will the higher registration fees affect Mongoose Publishing ambition of recruiting an unbelievable total of 33,000 runners for all 3 races combined? Let’s take a closer look…
The First Test
Under invitation by MHWH Night Run 2016, I took part in the inaugural Penang Series with an open mind, and honestly, I was really looking forward to running 21km on Penang Island.
On the plus side, the race village was situated outside Queensbay Mall, and the air was filled with the glorious smells of Penang Food wafting from the many booths and vans selling hot and cold food and snacks.
Also, there were many fun games, activities and lucky draws to entertain the onsite participants. It felt like one happy carnival.
Added to the mix were celebrity emcees and disc-jockeys who entertained the crowd with their lively commentary and upbeat music.
The other positives were the nice layout of the route, giving runners a great view of the bay by night, and the traffic and water stations were managed well enough.
Race-wise, overall, I gave the Technical Team from 21st Century Sports high marks. My only concerns were :-
There should have been more mobile medics stationed along the route, especially towards the latter part of the 21km portion based on my own unexpected experience. You see, I came across a rookie runner at the dark and isolated industrial zone, and he was laying on the roadside writhing in pain. Obviously, I stopped to help him, and he felt relieved when I was able to ease his pain. It was his first half marathon, and he had never suffered such debilitating cramps before. Apart from wanting to help him finish his 1st half marathon, I wanted to show him that runners should be never leave anyone behind.
Certain paths were very dark, and perhaps, the organiser should have recommend the use of headlights for the runners.
I did not like the idea of the flag-off of the 21km late at 9pm, only after the 5km & 12km runners had started. The decision was made based on taking consideration of the runners safety, but I urge organisers to find a solution which will ensure the 21km are given a headstart, and give slow runners like me a chance to finish early enough to enjoy the after party at the race village with the rest of the finishers.
On administration side, the organiser provided too little race information too late.
Overall, I found the first series both entertaining and enjoyable, and I must thank Mongoose Publishing for being a great host on that race day. Here is the official press release.
Never mind what I think. More importantly, what did the numbers say?
Unfortunately, the final total was only a measly 3,500 runners who took part in the first Penang Series compared to the earlier whopping 9,000 targeted by Mongoose Publishing. Where did it go wrong? Did MHWH Night Run out-priced themselves? Will the Putrajaya installment, which is scheduled for 30th July 2016, meet their massive target of 15,000 participants? Or will there be another backlash from Penang fall-out. Let’s take a closer look..
To be frank, it is never good news when an organiser is willing to give away slots at 50% discount from the original price in an effort to beef-up the participation rates, for 3 main reasons:-
Such drastic action can only mean that the take-up rate for the Putrajaya Series is much lower than earlier anticipated (see below “Extended Misery” for more evidence). What’s worse is that this 50% discount move will offend and ridicule all the runners who earlier paid the full price, as well as those runners who earlier registered for all 3 races upfront, under a promotional package which looks much less attractive now, on hindsight.
It shows that the pricing policy of the organiser was too weak to begin with, and it makes me wonder :
How was the original price determined in the first place?
Does this mean that the pricing was too high which gives the organiser enough room for discounts?
Furthermore, giving over the top discounts late degrade the quality of the brand and event. Contrastingly, you never see high-end brands offering discounts, and that is because they are “cock-sure” of their quality of goods or services.
Surprise, surprise! MHWH has just announced that they have extended their registration closing date to 10-July 2016 which gives them less than 3 weeks to print additional bibs and order event T-shirts and medals in time for race kit collection date.
In 9 out of 10 cases, when an event organiser decides to extend their event registration closing date, it is because the number of registrants is too low. However, they will say things like “due to request of runners” and “we want to give opportunity to more runners to join” in order to hide the poor take-up rate. After all, who wants to join an event that fails to draw the crowd.
Lower Your Expectations
Don’t get me wrong, if you have already registered, you can still have a good race and outing. However, for runners who are used to the high quality of previous year’s Men’s Health Night Run, you may be disappointed if you are expecting the same things from MHWH Night Run 2016. I hope that my prediction is wrong because the last thing anyone wants to see is a barrage of complaints from dissatisfied runners on social media…and it won’t give me any satisfaction in having to tell you, “I told you so”.
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and a HIIT Fitness Coach. As a freelance 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
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