SINGAPORE, 10 October 2015 – MORE than 1,100 participants took part in Singapore’s first humanitarian race – Ground Zero, Run for Humanity 2015, which took place at Big Splash, East Coast Park this morning.

The humanitarian-themed run is a first of its kind organised by Mercy Relief, a non-governmental humanitarian organisation in Singapore which aims for participants to experience what happens to victims of natural disasters. Participants had the opportunity to do so in the 5KM Relief Aid Challenge, which saw a total of 500 participants challenging themselves by each carrying a 5.1kg relief pack that was filled with typical disaster supplies such as rice, sugar, salt and cooking oil, throughout the course of the run. The aim of the challenge was to simulate the arduous journey a survivor goes through just to retrieve a substantial amount of aid in times of disaster. However, a real-life scenario would usually require survivors to carry more than 5.3kg worth of aid, covering twice the distance in mountainous and rocky conditions.

“The Relief Aid Challenge certainly raised my awareness of Mercy Relief’s efforts. During the challenge, I had to balance the relief pack on one side of my body, and it tired me out really easily. It was definitely way tougher than what I expected and I think that the survivors of disasters have it tough on them. I really feel for them much more now. Overall, I think the organisers did well. Hats off to them and I will definitely look forward to another event like this. I might consider volunteering for Mercy Relief,” said Celine Chew, who participated in the 5KM Relief Aid Challenge. The inaugural edition of the event also saw competitive runners throng the 10KM Race Against Time category, which required them to complete the distance within 80 minutes. The aim was to simulate a sense of urgency during evacuation in times of disaster. 34-year-old Brad Clarke was the first runner to cross the finishing line with a timing of 39:08.04 mins.

“Today’s run was tough because of the heat but it was a good race and I’m pleased with my timing. This run contributes to a really good cause of generating awareness about disaster relief efforts and the event also directly benefits Singaporeans in need. Some people actually do go hungry in Singapore and the relief packs distribution will be beneficial to them. It’s much tougher where I’m from in the UK where you don’t get much help if you go hungry,” said Mr. Clarke, who looks forward to participating with friends again.

“Ground Zero – Run for Humanity is Singapore’s very first humanitarian theme run. Unlike other running events, this is a unique innovative format which allows participants to understand what it feels like to undergo hardship in times of disaster. We had a great turnout this morning which indicates the public’s interest to help the less fortunate,” said guest-of-honour Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of Environment and Water Resources.

Zhang Tingjun, Executive Director of Mercy Relief, was pleased at how the event turned out. “It was extremely heartening to witness how participants made the effort to be part of this whole humanitarian experience. The aim of the event, which was to get people to experience what survivors of disasters have to go through on a daily basis, was met and I’m glad everyone had a meaningful and enjoyable time today,”

500 relief packs were then distributed to low income families in Tampines GRC, Jamiyah Singapore and Pertapis after the event, in support of Mercy Relief’s observance of World Food Day which falls on 16 October, a day which is observed annually in more than 150 countries, with the aim of raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.

Post-event race village activities included a deployment tent which allowed participants to view the interior of a relief tent and items Mercy Relief would use on the ground, a selection of photos of Mercy Relief in the field and the communities they serve, and other interactive games such as ‘Breaking Bulk’ – where participants had 1 minute to accurately estimate the amount of beans needed to fill a pack with a weight that was provided to them.