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New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Humble Beginnings of the Singapore 70.3 Ironman Race

It was sometime in the early part of 2005. I was still at my previous company along Club Street. URA called for a meeting with SACA and inevidently I was tasked to attend the meeting as a member of the SafeCycling Taskforce and professionally as a Transport Planner. The meeting included Max (SACA) and Ser Luck. URA had a few planners and architects, including Jaynius.

The purpose of that meeting was to seek ideas for bicycle-friendly places that could be demarcated as recreational land use, including using space in the New Downtown area to showcase Marina Bay. Then it evolved to trying to sell Singapore as a brand and - coming from the viewpoint of URA - present Singapore as a place unique in its built environment. Naturally, the Marina Bay offered the best vantage points, with the Merlion, Esplanade, The Sheares Bridge, Chinatown and Shenton Way as ideal locations to showcase 'SINGAPORE'.

The idea of the Ironman was therefore mooted because it could at one fell swoop feature Singapore's built environment from past to present, and it could practically accommodate spectators almost in every nook and cranny.

Unlike other Ironman venues around the world, Singapore offered unparallelled proximity to the airport and tourist amenities. Ser Luck came up with the Ironman idea, but I reinforced it with the reasons to have the franchised race in Singapore.

It was phenomenal and URA was sold from the very beginning.

There were then 2 things to do: get an experienced sports promoter and WTC license to hold the Ironman series; and to conceptualise the swim, bike and run routes.

Through his contacts, Ser Luck was responsible for the former, while I looked into the latter.

The initial stages were tough, but Ser Luck managed to get X-Tri from Australia and I managed to draw up some possible bike routes and run routes. The initial plan was to have the swim within the Marina Bay but in those early days of Marina Barrage construction, the PUB had issues with water standards.

In any case, Hivelocity came into the picture and struck a deal with X-Tri (I was there too, recce-ing East Coast Park, lunch at Waraku, and having dinner at Spaggadies at Paragon)... and the rest, they say, is history.

It's great to have been part of the organising committee. It's even greater to know that almost 1200 mortals were transformed into Singapore 70.3 Ironmen on 2 September 2007.

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