Run For Fun

This weekend, Mr Fabian Pwi will lace up his running shoes in an attempt to outrun "zombies" to the finish line at the Padang.

In his quest to survive the 5km route - dodging people slathered in ghoulish make-up playing the undead - he will navigate a maze, be dunked in a "blood pit" of gunk and crawl under fences.

At the finish line, a reward awaits: the Apocalypse Party, where survivors-turn-clubgoers mingle over food and alcohol, and a DJ spins tunes till late.

This zombie race, Run For Your Lives Asia, is one of at least seven uniquely themed runs that have popped up in Singapore over the past year.

"The race brings to life the world of zombie games and television shows, so it is a novelty for me," says Mr Pwi, 31, an SAF regular, who also enjoys video game Left 4 Dead and television series The Walking Dead.

Running the race would also require frequent sprinting, a change from endurance races such as the 42km Standard Chartered Marathon, which the avid runner has also participated in.

Run For Your Lives Asia started in the United States in 2011 and is holding its first overseas offshoot in Singapore tomorrow.

It has drawn about 6,000 participants so far, mainly runners aged between 17 and 35.

Compared to running conventional marathons or on the gym treadmill, joining such a run staves off fitness boredom, says Ms Agnes Nee, marketing manager of Action X.

The event production company bought over the zombie run franchise, originally conceived in the US to celebrate Halloween, and will follow with similar runs in Taipei in March, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in May.

Adds Ms Nee, who is in her 30s: "It is not about watching the time or how fast you go, but keeping fit in a fun way and enjoying the experience."

Other new themed runs include night-time rave events such as the Illumi Run and an upcoming Electric Run; races strewn with rigorous obstacles such as the Lion Dash and Commando Challenge, and The Color Run, where participants are doused with different coloured powders through a 5km route.

Another zombie run, Race The Dead, took place last October at Sentosa's Siloso Beach, with about 10,000 runners at the two-day event.

Organiser Brandon Lee, 25, from lifestyle classified website Celebrity Trainer, says the race targeted people who do not usually run, but would like to take up the sport in a fun way.

It worked: tickets for the first day of the event, ranging from $55.90 to $65.90, sold out within 14 hours of being released.

Riding on its success, the company will hold a Heroes Run in June, where participants dress up as their favourite superhero or villain in an obstacle course race, during which they make choices that can affect their route.

Another run which might be making its way here in April is the Electric Run, a night party run, where participants arrive decked out in LED glow lights to run, walk and dance to pumping club music.

Managing director for the Electric Run in Asia, Mr Dave Landa, says that his team is getting permits to set up the race in Singapore, but declined to reveal its venue.

The Electric Run, which originated in the US, has held 33 runs across America, with about 500,000 runners in total.

Singaporeans love running and an outdoor party, which is why Singapore is the run's first Asian edition, says Mr Landa, 45.

His team also set up Facebook pages at the end of last year in Asia including Malaysia and Hong Kong, but the number of "likes" on the Singapore version - more than 46,000, as compared to fewer than 8,000 for the rest - convinced them that Singapore was the place to go.

The Electric Run follows closely on the heels of the Illumi Run, held in December at the F1 Village, where close to 10,000 runners were splashed along the 5km route with non-toxic neon water.

DJs from nightspot Mink also spun tunes to keep up the party atmosphere.

The race-and-rave formula worked: the event reached capacity within three weeks after registration opened.

Runs with a party element reach out to a different target market, as compared to the usual nightlife scene, says director of lifestyle management agency Massive Collective, Mr Phillip Poon, 36.

Mr Poon, whose company co-owns Mink and supplied the DJs for the Illumi Run, says he is keen on exploring partnerships on handling party aspects of races.

"It is interesting that two such different lifestyles - partying and running - are put together," he adds.

Alcoholic drinks, in addition to non-alcoholic drinks and finger food, are sold at the post-run party.

The more unique the run concept, the more motivated runners are, says undergraduate Darryl Kok, 24, who completed the Illumi Run with a group of eight friends.

"Rather than running non-stop and getting bored, we had things to look forward to midway, such as taking pictures at photobooths, which creates wonderful memories," says Mr Kok, who previously participated in the Army Half Marathon.

Similarly, The Color Run, held last August, followed in the same vein - with about 16,000 runners doused with coloured powder along the 5km route.

The concept was also a winner: about 12,000 spots were reportedly snapped up within three hours.

Participant Cyntia Chandra, 20, an undergraduate, signed up because she had already heard of the concept, which started in the US in 2012.

It was also a good way to do her first run and enjoy the camaraderie - feel-good cheers and high-fives - with other runners.

She says: "I wanted to experience running with other people, and I would be very interested to join another one, provided its theme is unique and fun."

But for those looking for a more serious physical challenge, there are options such as the Commando Challenge, which took place last December in the Tanglin Halt and Tanjong Pagar area.

Along the way, the 6,000 runners - who could choose between a 4km and 12km route - would encounter obstacles, which give runners a "new focus", says event director Annie McGrath, who is in her 30s.

Says Ms McGrath, who is from Britain: "Not everyone enjoys running long distances so adding obstacles gives runners new training requirements."

Strength training is a must for the race, for example, and many participants prepare by doing boot camps to compete at their best, she says.

Another race, the Lion Dash, started in 2012 with 850 runners through a 5km obstacle course at Tampines Bike Park.

The obstacles were no kids' play: runners crawled through mud underneath barbed wire fences and plunged through ice-cold water - a "mental challenge" in addition to a physical one, says organiser Adam Bauerly, 29.

Having participated in the Warrior Dash, an obstacle-style race in the US, the American decided to bring his own version to Singapore. His second edition last month hosted 550 runners, and the next one will be held in May.

The obstacles give runners "something to conquer", says polytechnic student Javiel Tan, 19, who was in the Lion Dash last month, and has also completed the Commando Challenge and other conventional races such as the Sundown Marathon and Army Half Marathon.

Ultimately, the races give people a "good show", with runners themselves taking centre stage, says Electric Run's Mr Landa.

He says: "When the participants feel they are part of the show, they want to share that experience with their friends, which is why having a unique theme is so important."

COLOURS...

THE COLOR RUN: Dubbed the "happiest 5k on the planet", The Color Run started in the United States in 2012 and concluded its two-day run last August in Singapore for the first time, with 16,000 runners doused with coloured powder along the route in Sentosa.

When: No details yet for this year Info: Go to www.thecolorrun.com.sg

LIGHTS...

ELECTRIC RUN: A 5km night-time run and rave event, where participants dress up their outfits with glow sticks and LEDs to contribute to the experience. Race organisers, who are also behind the Electric Run in the United States and recently in Sydney, are getting permits for the Singapore edition.

MUD & ICE...

LION DASH: Like its American counterpart Warrior Dash (the two dash races are not affiliated), the Lion Dash at the Tampines Bike Park has a series of obstacles along the 5km route, such as the Ice Punch, where runners plunge through a container of ice water, and Mud Pitch, where they crawl underneath barbed wire through mud. This year's edition in May or June will be the race's third season.

When: In May or June Fee: Between $50 and $75 a runner Info: Go to www.liondash.com

GLOW...

ILLUMI RUN: First held in Singapore last month at the F1 Village. Then, 10,000 runners were splashed along the 5km route with non-toxic neon water, so they glowed in the dark. It was a nighttime race-turned- rave, and DJs from nightspot Mink spun tunes.

When: No details yet for this year Info: Go to www.illumirun.com

ZOMBIES...

RACE THE DEAD: Lifestyle classified website Celebrity Trainer conducted the first 5km zombie race on Sentosa's Siloso Beach in October to celebrate Halloween. Runners were issued two red flags, dodging about 100 zombies along the way who would try to grab them. The goal was to reach the finish line with at least one red flag left. Organisers are planning another edition this year, and details will be shared on its website on Feb 28. Info: Go to www.racethedead.sg

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES ASIA: A franchise of the original American race, brought in by event production company Action X. Participants can sign up as a runner or zombie, and navigate a 5km obstacle course. To amp up the game, runners will fasten flags to their shirts and dodge the zombie horde trying to grab the flags.

An Apocalypse Party happens concurrently with the race. There will be food, drinks and alcohol, and DJ Nicole Chen will spin from 9 to 11pm.

BE A COMMANDO...

COMMANDO CHALLENGE: Runners can choose to go Elite, a 12km off-road course with more than 25 obstacles, or tackle a 4km Sprint course with 15 obstacles. Races are based on physical selection tests soldiers complete to win entry into elite military units, and were held in the Tanglin Halt and Tanjong Pagar area. The first race took place last month, with 6,000 runners participating.

OR A HERO

HEROES RUN: Dress up as your favourite superhero or villain in an obstacle course race, during which you make choices that can affect your route.

The race is family-friendly: Parents can sign up with their children and form a superhero family team, a la The Incredibles. More details will be released in upcoming weeks by lifestyle classified website Celebrity Trainer. Registration opens on Jan 26.

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