Wednesday, 30 April 2008

When fun can turn into anxiety

I was in two minds about posting this story since it happened more than a month ago but what prompted me to proceed was seeing the post-event promo aired by Astro a few days ago.

On the 23rd of last month, my son Imran and his friend Yusof joined the Vitagen Run For Fun event organised by Astro Ceria. The run was held at Danga Bay in the early hours of the morning. In fact, we to had leave home before daybreak and was at the location before first light.

The turnout was surprisingly large, hence parking became a problem. It didn't help that the location was poorly lighted. Perhaps they had switched off the floodlights too soon. When we reached the assembly point, I became somewhat apprehensive because the layout of the facilities was a bit complicated. I thought that Astro has tons of experience in organising large crowd events and would have foreseen the problems.


Astro opened the participation into 2 categories : 7 to 12 years and 13 to 15 years. The registration, collection of bib and number was held the day before but sadly there were still parents who wanted to register their children that very morning. Since the registration was not a speedy process, there were many that could not collect their numbers in time. When the run started, first for the younger kids, there was a mild chaos as the registration staff simply had to hand out the bibs upon being pressured by parents who insisted on getting their kids to run.

Although the rules say kids have to be at least 7-years old, I saw many who are much younger. Unfortunately, some of these little ones fell down or were pushed. It was a good thing the RELA staff were quick to act.
After the first category of kids were flagged off, the teenagers of the second category had to be held back. It didn't help that the finishing point of running route doubled back to the start point. This meant that the organisers had to wait for the all the younger runners to finish, otherwise there would be a collision. And you cannot expect the 7-year olds to complete the course in the same time as the 12-year olds.
The older kids who were held back like crowded sheep in a pen, were restless and eager to start running. There was pushing and shoving.... and I was really worried some kids might be crushed. The emcees, Zainal Alam and Reza were having a tough time keeping things calm but I give them credit for thinking of various diversions (singing, joking etc.) to keep the teenagers occupied.

When the second group was finally set free, you could see the relief on the faces of the organisers.
Unfortunately, the anxiety did not end there. The runners who had finished running were directed to a compounding area, presumably to make it easy for parents to collect them. But the area soon filled up to the thousands and we had frantic parents searching for `lost' children. The organisers thought that putting the mobile contact numbers of the parent on the bib of the runner was a good idea. But in a sea of thousands, how do you tell a parent the exact position of his son or daughter?

My son manage to complete the run without any problems. I reckon he didn't do too badly, probably finishing in the top 20 of the second category. The runners were then supposed to report back to the registration counters to collect their certificate. This turned out to be another labourious process and my son agreed to give it a miss. To compensate for this, I took him and his friend to breakfast where they could order anything they wanted.
Hopefully Astro would learn from these shortcomings and improve themselves for the future events.

2 comments:

mutalib saifuddin said...

hi,

i've read your comment on 3540. i don't know whether the place that you bought the kropok in certain places in (near the KT) TG, but quality are nuts over time!kemaman, lebih kurang je kan?

have tasted the chendering kropok and it's better than others.

perhaps we have different taste buds. haha.

thanks for you constructive criticism!

Oldstock said...

Hi Mutalib,

Thanks for dropping by via Nuraina's blog. On my last trip back to Mersing, we found a new keropok stall at Tenglu (on the way to Air Papan beach) where the taste is not too bad. Forgot to take pics of the stall though. Will do so on my next trip and blog something about Mersing next.