Singaporeans really do seem to love queuing, especially for all things Hello Kitty.
On the early morning of 1st November, some 17,000 Hello Kitty fans gathered at Sentosa, eager to participate in the Hello Kitty Run. I was one of them, and the event, which was the first of the feline’s 40th birthday celebrations, looked promising. After all, I did pay $70 to be part of the 5km fun run.
After locating my friend, we joined the throng of people moving towards the starting line at Sentosa Gateway. The emcee introduced Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel, who waved us off at 8.45am. But dark clouds threatened us with imminent rain, and within two minutes of crossing the line, the light drizzle evolved into a heavy downpour. (The most ironic part was that the rain stopped when we reached the finish line.)
People started veering off the race route to find whatever shelter they could find. I watched as some tried to seek shelter under trees or security posts. My friend and I, being determined to brave the elements, trudged on. At around the 1km mark, we saw a couple of balloon sculptures welcoming us onto the main part of the route. Alas, these efforts went unappreciated as the rain prevented any of us from taking out our cameras or phones to capture these moments.
The first sign of chaos appeared when ambulances started whizzing to and fro along the race route, disrupting the flow of human traffic whilst inciting many concerned comments like, “What happened ah?” and “Wah, who passed out?” I later found out that there were a few participants who really fainted.
But the true mayhem occurred at the finish line. As the crowd begin to slow down near the end, it became apparent that there was a human jam at the medal collection point (one of the pavilions along Siloso Beach). The emcee announced that people were taking photos with their medals or seeking shelter in the pavilion instead of moving out into Siloso Beach, where the post-race beach party was held. Another friend I met at the beach afterwards told me how she saw some participants collecting more than one medal for themselves (shame on you!). To the frustration of many runners, the utter confusion was disorienting, and the organisers later declared that the medals would be given out at the beach, where there was more space for activity.
Disappointed and drenched, we proceeded to the beach, where there were activities for participants. These included photo-stands (complete with props), a powder room, a nail bar and booths by sponsors giving out freebies like cereal and balloons. Unsurprisingly, there were long queues at each of these.
After about an hour or so (during which we were treated to some musical performances by a singing duo), the organisers then announced that the medal collection would resume back at the pavilion. I turned to see my friend shaking her head as we walked back from the main stage of the beach party to the pavilion, which we were sure would be congested with hundreds of people again.
At the end of the event, my friend commented: “All this was just a 5km queue for the Hello Kitty medal, isn’t it?”
Yes it was, I replied.