SINGAPORE, 14th August 2016 – SINGAPORE’S only humanitarian charity run, Ground Zero – Run for Humanity 2016, saw more than 1,200 participants take part this morning at Casuarina Grove, East Coast Park.

The second edition of the local humanitarian-themed run is organised by Mercy Relief, a Singaporean non-governmental humanitarian organisation, which aims for participants to experience what happens to survivors of natural disasters.

More than 500 participants took part in the non-competitive 5km Relief Aid Challenge, including the newly-minted ambassadors of Mercy Relief – Netball Singapore national 21 & Under players, in which they carried a 5kg relief pack filled with essential disaster food relief such as rice, salt and cooking oil, throughout the course of the 5km run.

The challenge aims to simulate the arduous journey a survivor endures just to retrieve a substantial amount of aid when calamity hits. However, in real-life situations, survivors would typically have to carry more than 5kg of aid, covering twice the distance of what participants did today, and often through rocky road conditions. This year’s 5km and 10km race route included sand sections to better simulate the difficult road situations in disaster-hit zones.

Guest-of-honour Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong GRC, also took part in the 5km Relief Aid Challenge and was inspired by her experience. “Ground Zero – Run for Humanity adopts an original race format, allowing participants to personally experience what it is like to endure harsh conditions in times of crisis. Mercy Relief has done well in innovating ways to engage with and inform the public. It is encouraging to see the public’s interest to help those in need locally and abroad,” she commented.

“It was a great experience running at Ground Zero – Run for Humanity 2016 while carrying the weighted relief packs. Being part of this event has opened our hearts to the experiences of the disaster survivors and we are more motivated to do more for those in need. This is our first participation as Mercy Relief ambassadors in their fundraising efforts and we look forward to more opportunities to support their cause in the near future,” said Tan Shi Ni, captain of the national 21 & Under players who participated in the 5km Relief Aid Challenge.

Zhang Tingjun, Executive Director of Mercy Relief, was pleased with the turn out of the event. “With today’s public engagement activities and the days leading up to preparing for Ground Zero – Run for Humanity, Mercy Relief aims to encourage a sense of compassion and empathy in our next generation. In this day and age, it is key that we gain a better understanding of the humanitarian experience and walk a day in the life of a survivor, aid worker and volunteer. The support we have received from our corporate partners, ambassadors, volunteers and the public this year has shown us that we are on the right track.”

Competitive runners gave it their all in the 10km Race Against Time run, which required them to complete the race distance within 80 minutes. The aim was to simulate a sense of urgency during evacuation for safety in times of crisis. Winning the category was Nimesh Gurung who crossed the finishing line with a time of 34:36.

More than 100 children, aged 3 to 12, and their families took part in the 500m Dash for Humanity; a new event category introduced this year. Participants had to carry small 1kg relief packs through the 500m distance. This was inspired by actual young survivors who are often sent as representatives on behalf of their families to obtain relief supplies.

After the event, Netball Singapore’s national open netball squad joined in the distribution of at least 500 relief packs to low income families in Tampines GRC, Jamiyah Singapore and Pertapis to mark Mercy Relief’s observance of World Humanitarian Day which falls on 19th August, a day to pay tribute to all people affected by humanitarian crises and those who lost their lives in humanitarian service.

Other race village activities included a deployment tent where participants could view the interior of an actual relief tent and items Mercy Relief would use on the ground, a selection of photos of Mercy Relief at work in the field with the communities they serve, and other interactive games.