The Yellow Ribbon Project is a community initiative launched in 2004 in Singapore that aims to create awareness of the need to give second chances to ex-offenders, generate acceptance for ex-offenders and their families in the community, and inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into society.
The inaugural Yellow Ribbon Prison Run was held in September 2009 and attracted about 6,500 participants. This year’s 6th edition attracted about 9,000 registrants and was themed “The Road to Acceptance”.
This is my second time to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run. The first time I joined was in 2011 and I had good memories of the event. The route is not your typical race route in Singapore as it will take runners past many historical and prison sites with the finish line inside the Changi Prison Complex. There’s also plenty of up and down slopes which makes the run interesting.
Last year it was held on the same weekend as TMBT Ultra Trail Marathon so I wasn’t able to participate. I am happy I had the opportunity to participate again this year knowing that this is for a worthy cause.
The flag off time for the 10Km run was scheduled at 7:45am however, just like 3 years ago I was late again for the run. As I’m staying in Bukit Gombak area, the earliest train I could take heading to Jurong East on a Sunday was at 6:06am. Given the long journey from Jurong East to Expo, it was already past 7am when I arrived in Expo then we had to queue for the free shuttle bus that would take us from Expo to Changi Village. The race organizers did offer paid satellite shuttle services at certain pick up points for a nominal fee however, we were not able to avail of this as this was only offered during the registration period.
The 6Km fun run participants where getting ready to be flagged off when we reached the starting point at 8:11am. Me and my friend, Beeping, started the run together. The sun was shining brightly and it looked like we were in for a hot workout. I began to think about my last Yellow Ribbon Prison run experience where I had to walk for most part from Km7 to Km9 because the heat had taken its toll on me. In my mind I was thinking the sooner I can complete the 10Km run the better so I don’t have to stay too long under the hot sun.
As I didn’t want to stress my friend, I asked her if it’s alright if we just run at our own pace and she agreed. I concentrated running at my own pace as the route lead us to an inclined slope. I was feeling fine as I tackled the inclined slope which is a good sign however, I knew this was just the first of the many inclined slopes. It was a good motivation to think that what comes up must come down. Like my usual tactics in other races, whether it’s road or trail, I would run slow in the uphill and then try to make up some time in the downhill.
At about 3Km, I reached the water station. I stopped briefly at the water station to sip some water and drank a cup of 100Plus as I was getting thirsty. I then continued my way passing by an interesting cafe called 1942 before heading for another inclined slope going to Johore Battery.
Just before the 4Km mark I spotted Marcus of Running Shots doing what he does best – shooting photos of runners. I said “hi” to him as I went past him. The road lead us uphill but there was a cooling station at the top which was quite nice as it provided temporary relief from the hot weather.
I felt relieved after reaching the halfway mark but the last few sections of the route doesn’t provide much cover from the sun. Although the weather this year was slightly better compared to 3 years ago when I first ran this course, I was still struggling with the effects of the heat.
I was running out of energy and ready to give in to the temptation of walking but I egged myself to just keep moving. There was another water station at about 8Km however, there was no 100Plus only water. I took a cup of water but it made my tummy heavy so I only sip a bit and used the remaining water to wash my face to help my body cool down.
As I was nearing the entrance of the Changi Prison Complex, I saw my friend Kelly who was snapping photos of the runners passing by. About two months ago she finished one of the toughest ultramarathon in the world, the Badwater Ultramarathon. I was happy to see her and gave her a smile as I passed by.
I was glad when I reached the entrance of the Changi Prison Complex as I knew I was getting closer to the finish line. I caught up with Singapore Blade Runner who was running with a big and heavy backpack on his back and yet he was still full of enthusiasm.
The last one kilometer to the finish line is always mentally tough. The finish line is near but it seemed far away as the scorching heat drained my energy.
I finished the run after an hour and ten minutes of running. I waited near the finish line for my friend Beeping to arrive. It was inspiring to see a participant who was in a wheelchair finish the race despite the up and down slopes and the scorching heat. There was also an uncle who also finished the 10Km run barefoot which was quite amazing!
The fun was just beginning after completing the 10Km run. We met other runner friends who also took part in the run which was really nice and there were plenty of activities at the Carnival site. We had our photo taken at the #YRSelfie booths as a souvenir then we also joined in the challenge games at the Challenge Booths which was quite fun.
There were four challenge games at the challenge booths. Each challenge game had a different scenario where you stand as an employer, neighbor, relative and friend on an ex-offender’s road to acceptance.
After completing the four challenge games we showed our completed challenge game card and got a nice prize for our efforts.
Aside from the Challenge Booths there was also a Rehabilitation Fair with an Action Booth where one can take further action to support the cause and a Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition. The Yellow Ribbon Art Adoption program provides an avenue for inmates to express their hopes and aspirations through art, showcase their artistic talents and reach out to the community.
We also got to sample some baked goodies from SCORE Bakery. I especially loved the pastry with a filling at the top (I’m not sure what it’s called) that I could not help myself from taking a few pieces. There was also free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream however, it was all gone when we finished the run.
The Yellow Ribbon Prison Run is just more than a run. Thanks to the volunteers who stood in the hot weather to ensure the safety of runners, segregated the trash to keep the environment clean and made the whole event fun and successful. Thanks as well to the students who cheered the runners along the route and the photographers who took our photos so we can have a nice memento after the event. They are all the unsung heroes.
For run results please click here.
If you wanna find photos of the event you may visit the following sites below:
1/7 07:53-08:25 (4km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
2/7 08:25-08:43 (4km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
3/7 08:43-09:10 (4km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
4/7 09:10-09:58 (4km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
5/7 08:00-08:30 (9km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
6/7 08:30-08:55 (9km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
7/7 08:55-09:51 (9km) Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2014
If you wanna know more about the Yellow Ribbon Project you may follow them in Social Media: