OCBC Cycle Singapore: Big task

OCBC Cycle Singapore: Big task
Chris Robb (left) managing director and Cecilia Liew event's project manager of race organiser Spectrum Worldwide.

SINGAPORE - It is a mammoth endeavour and every eventuality has to be considered.

Rain? Fire? Volunteers who do not show up?

Organisers of the OCBC Cycle Singapore - Singapore's largest and most established cycling event - believe they have everything covered.

Indeed, they have been working hard for a year to prepare for the event's sixth edition, which is to take place from March 28 to 30.

Last month, preparations kicked into high gear with 20 staff working on the event round the clock.

Come event week, there will be 40 staff and 1,200 volunteers to help out - whether it is distributing cycle packs, managing logistics or manning the route.

Says Chris Robb, 50, managing director of race organiser Spectrum Worldwide: "Large cycling events are extremely complex to organise."

The Australian has spent more than 25 years organising sports events such as last year's Standard Chartered Marathon.

He also coordinated the marathons during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

But cycling events, Robb says, are more complex because they involve participants bringing along their bicycles.

He adds: "There's a higher risk of injury because people are moving at a higher speed."

Thankfully, he has a team, led by the event's project manager, Cecilia Liew, 34, to make sure everything goes well.

She says: "There are so many things to take care of, such as registration, operations, clearances, marketing, logistics, and sponsors.

"To get everything done, we have to start a year in advance. Sometimes, I feel like I'm organising the National Day Parade."

One of the toughest aspects of OCBC Cycle Singapore is the closing of some roads, including part of Bayfront Avenue, next to Marina Bay Sands.


This requires negotiating with various businesses to minimise inconvenience.

Says Robb: "For such a large-scale event, there's bound to be some inconveniences. We try our best to make sure the businesses are not affected too much."

Organising the event is tough enough, but formulating a contingency plan can be tougher.

The organisers try to be prepared for every possible scenario, be it rain, lightning, a fire breaking out or medical emergencies, to name a few.

Says Robb: "To prepare our team to handle any crisis, we actually have testruns where we pretend an emergency has taken place.

"This way, the people on the ground know how to deal with anything."

Should there be a medical emergency, a six-member crisis committee, stationed at the control centre, will be activated.

Liew, who is one of the committee members, expects to spend at least one night during the event at this control centre.

She says: "I'll have to be on site to attend to anything that crops up, but I'll bring my sleeping bag to catch some shut eye if we're not too busy."

Many of her friends are regular participants in the event. Liew says: "Although I'd like to join them, someone must look after the event, right?"

There are also moments of levity amid the stress.

For instance, the organisers are always tickled by the young children taking part in the event's tricycle ride.

Says Liew: "Some don't even get off the starting line. They just stare blankly. Sometimes, our staff have to cajole them to start pedalling."

Robb adds that when the first ride was held in 2009, several overzealous parents knocked into other children because they were engrossed with photographing their own kids.

After that, a "parent's lane" was set up beside the race track to keep parents off the main track.

Says Robb: "At the end of the day, we just want to see everyone have a good time. Even if I can't take part in the race myself, I'm happy to see others enjoying themselves"

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