Over the weekend, I completed my first ever half marathon and my son Asher participated in his first 800 metres dash at the Income Eco Run 2018. Both of us had a great time and were proud to be part of a meaningful race with a message on sustainability and the future.

Well done Asher! Papa is proud of you! #incomeecorun #ntucincome #kidsrun

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The event was held at the F1 Pit Building and some 9,000 participants took part in various distances – 21.1km Half Marathon, 10km, 5km Fun Run and Kids Dash (1.2km and 800m) – all running towards one collective goal: A more sustainable future, with many bearing their own refillable water bottles.

Among the participants were close to 2,000 Zero Waste runners, who gave up their finisher tees and/or race medals. I am sorry I didn’t opt out this time as this was my first ever half marathon and I wanted the finisher tee. Likewise for Asher, this was his first ever 800 metres dash. Nonetheless, we will definitely opt for zero waste next time round.

From the race experience, you could see the organisers’ resolve in minimalising waste. No plastic bottles were used or distributed at the event and the can drinks from the 100 Plus drinks that were given out were all taken back for recycling.

The sustainability endeavours by the organisers were supported by the likes of PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, and Tzu Chi Foundation, with both setting up booths to share tips on water conservation and recycling.

Volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation could be seen going around collecting back safety pins for recycling after the race. I spoke to a passionate elderly gentleman who thank me for taking part in the race, encouraging me to support the zero waste initiatives.

Mass events like the Income Eco Run, while fun and meaningful for the participants, also generates a lot of waste from the plastic bottles used, among other trash. It was heartening to see recycling stations set up for participants to sort our trash and various recycling and sustainability efforts and messaging at the event.

Elite runners, Geoffrey Birgen and Margaret Njuguna from Kenya won the 21.km Half Marathon (Open) for the male and female categories with a time of 1:07:22 and 1:26:20 respectively. Local runners Melvin Wong and Rachel See emerged tops for the 21.1km Half Marathon (Local Champion) and are also strong advocates of Income Eco Run’s Zero Waste initiative.

Wong who finished with a time of 1:17:15 said, “I wasn’t expecting to win today so it’s definitely a surprise to finish in a good time. The Income Eco Run has always been close to my heart, because of the Zero Waste initiative. I’m a big advocate of that. In the lead up to this race, I’ve shared a lot of my run commute home among the community and tried to get more people to do the same.”

See, completed the run in 1:28:04 and also came in second for the 21.km Half Marathon (Open) echoed the same sentiments, “I find Income Eco Run very different because of its cause to run towards Zero Waste. I really appreciate the opportunity to opt for zero waste, and I’m very glad to be part of this movement.”

This year, Income Eco Run continues its journey towards zero waste by introducing new goals to further reduce waste. These green initiatives include recycling all paper cups and composting all banana peels – an estimated 700kg – used at the run and working with more partners such as ofo to provide more eco-friendly transport options on race day. Organisers have also taken the step to make Income Eco Run a carbon neutral event this year.

Through the implementation of these measures, Income expects to achieve an even bigger reduction in waste generation this year. These efforts will contribute to the Green Event Assessment Report 2018 that the Run’s Strategic Green Advisor, Singapore Environment Council (SEC), will be conducting. The report will see SEC calculate the waste generated per capita at the Income Eco Run for the first time. The waste generated per capita is calculated by the amount of waste generated by each participant at the run.

Results of the Green Event Assessment Report will be released next month, and Income will use these insights to set new green targets for the next edition of the Income Eco Run. These are all great initiatives from Income and mass events should all aspire towards the same goal to reduce wastage.

On a personal front, I am definitely more conscious of the waste I generate as an individual when I participate in such mass events and will try my best to reduce or recycle next time whenever possible.

On the fitness front, I have overcome the mental barrier of completing a 21.1km run, but physically, I need to train harder to achieve a better timing. After the run, my legs have gone all jelly and my right ankle hurts. This is probably because I am not fit enough yet. I am going to do more half marathons from here – to the point whereby I can still go shopping and hang around after I am done with a half marathon. Next up, I will be at the Star Wars Run 2018 this weekend for the 10km fun run. See you there. 🙂