Decked in neon splatters and sunglasses, the vibrant runners of the ILLUMI Fest Run streamed through the Marina Bay against the glistening night sky and the backdrop of iLight Marina Bay this 31 March. With more than 4000 participants in attendance, the party kicked off in a dazzling spectacle of colours and high spirits. To witness the event in all its spectacular quality, I was extended an invitation to blend in with the brightly coloured runners, race pack and all.
The venue was rife with shades of ILLUMI glow water and exciting Instagrammable booths on display. Arriving at the event in my ILLUMI Fest Run T-shirt, FBT shorts and race pack, I felt like I was in Secondary School all over again. It had been a while since I wore a variation of such an outfit out of the house. It was comforting to see everyone around me at the event had the same outfit on, at least until I realized I was one of the only few with an alcohol tag on. I thought to myself, “I must be too old for this”. Thankfully, I had my friend, Alvina, who was also wearing the tag.
Already an hour late to the race, Alvina and I embarked on the course as the last flag off was sounded. Being out of shape, slow runners and carrying a broken bag full of loose items, we found ourselves at the back of the line. We did not realise that we were the last two people in the run until we heard the ILLUMI staff sounding his bike bell at us. Embarrassed, we ran as fast as we could in attempt to catch up with the rest.
The race journey was a scenic one. Running through the first zone, we were presented with an organized array of ILLUMI Run cones in the midst of the iLight Marina Bay installations, inviting visitors from all around. About a kilometer into the run, a pit stop titled ‘ILLUMI Bar’ caught my eye. It was just calling our names. Alvina and I sauntered to the counter and lined up to get ourselves two cups of Heineken. After all, we deserved a little treat after running a kilometer.
The Bar was resided by the Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, permitting a full view of the Marina Bay skyline. To our surprise, we got our drinks just in time for the daily 8pm Spectra light and water show. Needless to say, we spent our next 20 minutes or so sipping on our beers and soaking in everything the Marina Bay area had to offer.
It was then no wonder that our 20-minute break made us the last two in the race again. Throwing our empty cups aside, we attempted to navigate our way through the race course once again. It was much harder to follow without the cattle-like trail of people leading the way. The cones seemed to be playing a sarcastic game of hide and seek with us, hiding behind the clusters of people that were there for the iLight installations and the city skyline.
Minutes felt like hours. The ILLUMI run guides led us to through the different turns and corners and we found ourselves walking past the Art Zoo area at the Marina Bay Float. That’s right, walking. The cheery music that blared on the Art Zoo speakers seemed to be almost mocking us as we struggled to find our way to the next ILLUMI run cone. It felt like we were two characters in the receiving end of a mid-twentieth century satire. The background music became even more apt when we realized the gates to the next pit stop closing. Anxious, we waved to the ILLUMI run staff who were shocked at our presence, but nicely welcomed us into the dark but neon-embellished tunnel. Racing for time, Alvina and I sprinted through the entrance, only to be attacked by hoses that splattered us with ILLUMI glow water. We screamed.
Close to an hour after we started the race, we made our way through the finish line. We had caught up with the second last cluster of people running the race. Knowing that we would be ambushed with yet another round of glow water, Alvina and I hid in the middle of the group of runners to minimize the effect. Granted, it was of no use.
Running through the finish line, I could already feel the beats from the Illumi fest village pulsating on my skin. The party was just getting started. While the crowds gathered around the festival stage, bopping to the latest hits mixed with head banging drops, Alvina and I sat on two of the many giant can-shaped tables, talking the night away.
The atmosphere at the ILLUMI Fest Run was electric. Despite its vibrant spirit, it did not scare away university-aged muffled souls like me and Alvina. From the scenic views at Marina Bay to the interactive spaces at the festival, the Illumi Fest Run had something for everyone, cutting across interests and age. Satire or not, it was certainly an experience that I will have indelibly etched in my mind.