After so many months of work and the Sword of Damocles hanging over our head over the first mass event of 1000 people back in Singapore in a year there was no room for failure at last weekend’s MetaSprint Series Aquathlon on Palawan Beach, Sentosa.
The smile of relief on the friendly faces of the SportSG crew and the positive Straits Times article became quickly evidence that the new plans, procedures, protocols and race rules developed in the past few months and smoothly executed met the Singapore government’s and other stakeholders’ expectations.
So how was it done? We threw out the old rule book for physical events and started afresh, placing COVID safety features at the heart of everything we did, to ensure that all athletes remained safe throughout. This means there were different processes in 2021 compared to what you’ve seen us deliver in previous years.
‘Out’ went our large spectator tent and club tents, as they encouraged gatherings. The same with vendor tents, massage and award ceremonies. Instead, we added chaperoned one way flows through the venue, social distancing ambassadors and even an extra day of racing! We also managed to reduce contact points. Upon arriving at the venue alone (and at the allocated time) a temperature check and Trace Together app scanning was done. Then athletes entered our one-way system and joined (at a 2m distance) a 50-person bubble with the other athletes in their wave group. It was a bit like being back at school (or at friendly army camp some would say)! Athletes were led by their Wave Marshal through the pre-race preparations (bag deposit, transition, warm-up swim) to the race start. Everyone wore a face mask up until their warm-up swim.
Instead of a mass start, athletes safely queued for a rolling race start, setting off in pairs every 10 seconds. And feedback was that they loved it! Lots of clear water, no crowding at the turn buoys, and a more enjoyable swim experience.
The swim took place in the calm, warm waters off Sentosa and the flat, beach fronted run route was perfect for racing.
Post-race, each athlete had a maximum 5-minute period to catch their breath in the recovery area after crossing the finish line. They received a new face mask, medal and water before collecting their bags upon exiting the venue. Our friendly but unyielding safe management officers then reminded everyone not to linger about chatting about their run split or transition speed, and instead head home to unwind.
As different as it was, we are pleased that our participants had a safe, competitive and exciting event. All results were posted live on our website as the race progressed, and we loved celebrating your successes via social media. It was very rewarding to receive many positive feedback from participants, who enjoyed the new format and can’t wait to be back.
With a very successful Aquathlon ORIGIN event behind us, we now have fingers crossed for future events to take place in the city.