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IRONMAN Singapore “volunteers” complain of poor coordination and lack of food during event–but were they even officially registered to participate?

IRONMAN Singapore “volunteers” complain of poor coordination and lack of food during event–but were they even officially registered to participate?

Some students assisting for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore during the race to guide participants from one station to another tell a story of one of the worst volunteer duties they’ve ever experienced. But were they really?

In emails with Alvinology.com, students from Republic Polytechnic have revealed several issues with how the staff of IRONMAN Singapore treated them during the event.

But records show that Daryl Chia, 19, and Haiqal Harraz, who sent in complaints, were not registered as official volunteers for the event.

What did the students say?

According to the students, a representative they thought was from IRONMAN Singapore came to their school to brief them once on what their duties were during the marathon. He said that they were required to do the following:

“Head over to assigned bus stop/interchange at Saturday 11:30pm with the sign boards that have been passed to us prior to the event date and set up the sign boards around the location and guide participants to the correct buses that would bring them to the starting point of the run.”

“After completing the duties at the first assigned bus stop/interchange (about 4am), head over to a second assigned location which is one of the temporary bus stops around the event venue. Duty at this location was to guide members of public when they want to take the bus and to inform them that it is the temporary bus stop (because it is just a platform and people would not know that it is a bus stop by looking at it).”

In a Facebook post since taken down, Daryl Chia also voiced his concerns on social media:

IRONMAN Singapore confirmed that for these teams, these were the duties:
  • Report to pick up points and set up signage (school to assign students to points closest to their homes).
  • Each bus stop had 1 or 2 students, students were instructed to share with others from bus stops nearby (each student was given $20 for this).
  • Assist with putting up signage before ushering runners onto bus.
  • Students in their groups to head down to 10 temporary bus stops along Eu Tong Sen area to assist in managing these stops (this is so as some stops were blocked as part of the route).
  • Students assist public to board buses safely.
  • Take transportation to Kallang Blackbox (a bus was provided to ferry them) this is where they ended their assignment.
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IRONMAN Singapore had its own social media account for its official volunteers to follow, which may be seen here.

From the page, you could see that the volunteers were divided into teams with different duties. Some teams were required to guide participants while others were there to provide water, refreshment and to help register the runners.

So far, only Daryl and his friend who were responsible for guiding the participants have made their complaints known to Alvinology.

But IRONMAN Singapore said that they had conducted two briefings in the school, on November 7 and 9. There was also a public briefing on November 4 for all the volunteers.

Daryl mentioned he only went to one briefing and could not recall the name of the representative.

What happened during the marathon?

Daryl said that they were required to “volunteer” for this event by their school, to be able to complete their Midsemester Evaluation. According to him, he did not register at the event itself, and expected that his school handled all the arrangements.

Come the day of the event, Daryl and his classmates were at the first station at 11:30 in the evening. From there, things went downhill, but he said that they still performed their duties to the letter, as they had been briefed. Here are some of the issues that came up, according to the students:

  • Some of the volunteers could not clarify details about their duties and were unable to reach their coordinators through mobile.
  • When they were able to talk to another team’s coordinator, they were told to go home if they did not know what to do in a very rude manner.
  • Some students said the maps contained errors.
  • Some of the volunteers did not receive food or drink until the end of the marathon, which was around 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning the next day. They had been working from 11:30 the evening before for a total of eight hours.
  • The students had to pay for their own fare to get from one station to another so they could fulfil their duties. They were only given $20 once they finished their duties at the end of the day. According to Daryl, this was not enough to cover the transportation.
  • The bus that was supposed to take the volunteers to the last stop of their duties was four hours late and some opted to take the train.
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Some of them aired their grievances over social media:

But what does Iron Man Singapore have to say?

According to the marathon organisers, Daryl and Haiqqal were not registered as official volunteers, and do not have any records of showing up at the registration area.

Records show that Daryl and his friend were actually organised by Republic Polytechnic as a transport team required to help guide people on the route–but were not part of the official volunteer corps.

So while the children said they followed their duties to the letter, they were not really entitled to meals, snacks or an allowance from IRONMAN Singapore or its sponsors, especially since they did not register at the proper area. But they still received $20.

IRONMAN Singapore recently released a statement answering every complaint that the students mentioned, insisting that the infrastructure was there to support the official volunteers, which included bus transportation at specific pickup points and times–as well as a bento meal, a bag of snacks and all the water they could drink.

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As for the altercation between one volunteer and staff for IRONMAN, the incident was noted and the two parties asked to speak and resolve the matter. The staff apologised to the student and the matter was considered finished.

With regards to the missed buses, IRONMAN said that had the volunteers followed the protocol as outlined in their handbooks and briefings, the bus pickups would have been coordinated accordingly.

The buses were an hour late for Daryl because they were supposed to wait an hour before going to the stop, but for the official schedule, these buses were on time.

Read more about IRONMAN Singapore’s statement

Header image from Iron Man Volunteers Asia Facebook page.

About The Author

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Entertaining since 2017.

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