The motto of the Yellow Ribbon Raceis ‘Racing for Second Chances’. Thematically, it helps to raise awareness for the longstanding Yellow Ribbon Project that began in 2005. This project aims to make society more willing to give ex-convicts a second chance in life. Started by the late president S.R Nathan, it is now in its 17th year and still going strong. When I saw the opportunity to run in this year’s Yellow Ribbon Race, I gladly took it up.
There were two different race categories, 10km and the 6km run. Being a more casual runner myself, I chose the latter and still found it extremely rewarding although the race conditions were a bit more challenging than usual. The initial start time of the race was 7:45am but it was pushed back to 8:00am because of the torrential downpour. When the weather had finally settled, the race begun at 8:00am. However, at around the 3km mark the heavy rain started again.
Despite the rather unfavourable weather conditions, the route itself was fairly enjoyable and varied. Consisting of various slight uphill and downhill paths on the roads surrounding Changi Prison, there was enough of a challenge in a short race to keep the run engaging. There were also plenty of water stations despite it being a rather short distance. The first aid station was also smartly placed at the end of a rather steep downhill slope, where runners have a tendency to speed up and possibly trip, especially with the wet weather conditions.
The major highlight of the race route was the opportunity to run within the prison complex. Prison is undeniably a very grim place to be. Yet, in the home stretch before ending the run, my fellow runners and I could hear the cheers of the prisoners to push on in the race. It was galvanising that the prisoners were so willing to push us on despite their own conditions. In that sense, I think that truly embodies the spirit of the Yellow Ribbon Run. It may not be the longest or the most challenging of road races, but the reason for the run is clear. Perhaps that even in the arduous of circumstances, one can look forward to a better tomorrow with the help of other’s and society. Hence, given the opportunity this would definitely be a race that I would sign up for again.