More than four hundred runners, from all over Singapore, gathered at Fort Canning Hill one September morning, for the SMU Mile Run 2015. Organised by the SMU Run Team, the SMU Mile Run features a hilly and scenic route around Fort Canning. Do not underestimate this run– there are plenty of steps and inclines scattered along the route around Fort Canning Hill to give any athlete a run for her money!

Lai Yit Khai, the President of the SMU Run Team, joined us for a chat immediately after wrapping up the event. Having spent the entire night without sleep in preparation for race day, he sat down for some well-deserved rest.

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1398

Crafting a new identity

We see the SMU Mile Run as a lifestyle run. It’s about enjoying the run, the company and being part of something larger than yourself.

When we launched Mile Run last year in 2014, as a new run on the scene, we knew we needed to differentiate ourselves from other more established runs. What better to leverage on than one of the things that makes SMU unique– we’re the only university in the city!

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF11212015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1162

Understand your customer

We learned so many soft skills through our experience organising Mile Run. One of the biggest was learning how to secure sponsorships. We make sure to understand what they wanted, and enticed them with what we could offer. That’s something you don’t learn in the classroom.

We secured Salomon, a sportswear company, as one of our sponsors, by understanding target market. Salomon was launching a new series of city running shoes, and wanted to focus on runners who enjoyed running casually in the city. That fit Mile Run, our Fort Canning route, and the kinds of runners we were attracting perfectly.

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1308

Celebrate the wins

For the challenge, we will. This is the tagline for SMU Mile Run, which really defined our experience organising the run as well. It was really challenging during the early months. Morale was low because we had few sign-ups and a small budget.

Don’t be afraid to go ahead and exhaust your opportunities. Reach out to people and bounce ideas around; you’ll be amazed by what comes out of it.

I didn’t allow that to get to the team. I made sure that we celebrated the small wins. Every sign-up we got, every sponsor that came on board, big or small, was a small step forward for the team. We focused on the sponsors we wanted to work with, like Salomon, and worked extra hard to promote the run at major events like Vivace.

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1247

Learn by leading and doing

It’s a privilege for me, as the chairperson, to learn from every team member. Just because you’re the chairperson doesn’t mean you know what is best for everything.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to pace the team, how to keep everyone motivated and excited about the run. School projects are more short-term; planning for an event like this goes on for more than half a year.

It’s important to give and take. Let your teams have a breather so that they don’t burn out. I make sure to allocate time for each team, so that I can understand what issues they’re facing. My vice-chairperson helped me a lot as well, sharing the workload and managing our team as a whole.

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF13742015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1385

We have our seniors and staff at OSL to thank, for their advice through this whole experience. Our seniors taught us how to pace ourselves and overcome whatever challenges we might face. Our safety officer from OSL was still texting me at midnight, just before the run, offering his help. As the haze was pretty bad, he advised how we should manage the expectations of the runners and how to communicate our messages clearly to the runners. It’s these kinds of things that push me on.

I hope that the SMU Mile Run will become a name that everyone knows and associates with our motto and tagline. It may not be as vibrant or crazy as Colour Run, but it’s about knowing and identifying our audience, and attracting them through our message, the spirit behind the run.

For the Challenge, we will. What about you?

2015-09-20_Run Team Mile Run 2015__DSF1409

SMU Run Team – By runners, for runners.

Check out their Facebook page and join in their weekly runs around the city!

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU