Malaysia is no stranger to running events. Every year, there would be at least 23 major and minor races happening all over the country. With so many of these to choose from, there are those that stand out and people eagerly anticipate for – SongkRUN Water Run is absolutely one of them.
Now on its second run, SongkRUN Water Run is happening on 26 March 2017 in MAEPS, Serdang, Malaysia. It is the first of its kind in the world. A non-competitive fun run, SongkRUN course features multiple Water+Music Zones. The run plans to cool the scorching country once again. In a land where it is sunshiny all-year-round, SongkRUN is the perfect way to beat the heat! Just imagine, running five kilometres under refreshing water with music blasting and people dancing. It’s the ultimate summer party.
This genius idea is a product of several minds. From various industries and businesses, the founders of SongkRUN Water Run are still quite new to the business of sporting events, but nonetheless, they have already gone the distance with their innovative run.
EasyUni talks to three of the four brains behind the SongkRUN Water Run – Andrew Lee (centre), a former advertising man specialising in digital marketing and technology, Jaden Teoh (right), an importer and distributor and business owner, and Michael Teh (left), manager of a law firm. They talk about the story SongkRUN Water Run, what is in store for their fans, as well as where the event is heading in the future.
First things first: We think a lot of people might be asking this – why choose to do a water run? What is the inspiration behind SongkRUN?
Andrew (A): Our inspiration comes from Songkran – Thailand’s water festival – the mother of all events in this region. Everyone knows this event which happens every April. It’s perfect for people who love fun and having a good time. Last year, after I came back from Songkran, I had an idea of bringing the festival to Malaysia.
Another inspiration springs from the concept of the run being reminiscent of our experience when we were kids. Remember, when it's raining, and we run outside during heavy downpour, and we're really happy playing under the rain? And then our mums would be screaming because they think we might get sick? We loved that idea, and we thought, it could be good if we put in these together – the Songkran festival and our childhood experience – for the Malaysian audience and around the region as well. Plus, tie it in with entertainment and sports, too.
Generally speaking, sports marketing in the industry has been quite massive. Marrying water, music, and sports – the elements of SongkRUN – would be fascinating, and the team thought it's something people would look forward to. It took us 4-5 months – 24/7 days of worry and hard work has put off a good show for us this year (the first SongkRUN was held last April 2016).
How was the response to the first event?
A: We had a huge turnout – close to 7,000 people. We are expecting 8,000 to 10,000 in 2017. We have learned a lot of things; we made mistakes during the first event, we learnt and improved tremendously this time. However, despite the shortcomings, it was an incredible event, and the general sentiments were good, too. People started associating us with international events and compared ourselves with the more renowned fun runs.
For the second round, we have already begun with the online registration. We now look back, and we say we are already doing it the right way. At the same time, we are improving all the run elements. There will be a lot of highlights during the event itself.
Jaden (J): After our first event, we had a very long post-mortem meeting, and we thought of how to improve on the next one.
For example, for the water guns, last time, participants had to fill in the water. Next year, we will have bullets, pre-filled with water. Once they finish the water, they can exchange for new bullets. I think that is something fresh for the runners; plus it’s free!
We have also improved the pit stops this time around. During our last event, we focused on the 'after run' pit stop which was the music festival. But from our analysis, people expected us to have more activities in each pit stop, in every kilometre during the run. So next year, we are filling each stop up with a lot of activities.
Further, the first kilometre, we will have a water dance floor. Second, we will have a foam party – we'll throw in a big inflatable foam. Then after that, there will be icy rainbow tunnels. There will be tubes with cold water, so when you go to the tunnels you will be walking under the cold water! Chiller effect is so cool!
A: The fourth zone we will have structures that sprinkle water on top – to create a rain shower effect. Then the last one will be the fire brigade; wherein Firemen will be water bombing the participants.
Each of these zones will have the music stations, and the participants can stay for 20-30 minutes in each zone. These are all happening in MAEPS in Serdang. We love the place – beautiful landscape, huge enough for us to do the event.
J: It will be more exciting, even I, myself is expecting the run for next year.
Cool, who thought of the pit stops?
A: We all threw in ideas, and we came out with these. Personally, I threw in the water brigade because I love and enjoyed it the last time.
The icy experience was Jaden's idea, and it's something cool. Just imagine, cold water under the hot sun!
J: The age group of our participants range from 5 to 45 and above – a lot of young, sporty parents can bring their kids to this healthy and sporty activity.
SongkRUN Water Run looks like a team effort. Let's talk about you guys. You all came from different backgrounds. Just curious, how did you all meet and what brought you all together?
J: As entrepreneurs, I think we have the same way of thinking. It's fate that brought us together. To know each other is just the beginning, but to work on something as a team, is not easy. The reason why we are so close and so centred in this partnership is that we cover each other's...
A: Back side *everyone laughs*
A: Jokes aside, we complement each other's skill sets and weaknesses. It’s all about leveraging as a group. All of these people are already established business men. We believe in working based on each other's strengths.
Michael (M): Every one of us has different expertise and forte, and when we work together, we can achieve something more, something better.
J: Just like a puzzle; it has a lot of pieces with different sides and edges. But when put together, the big picture will be excellent.
How is it like working with each other?
A: Very painful! *everyone laughs* Very difficult.
J: Hardest person to deal with is Andrew! *everyone laughs*
A: They are all business leaders and have very strong opinions and characters, especially about where the company is heading and its direction.
Alignment is crucial. When we look back, some are very ambitious, some are very conservative, some are in between. Different points in time, we wear different hats and bridge ideas between our differences regarding our business focus and responsibilities.
J: It's hard when you to gather all these bosses and run a company together. However, the best part is that among each other, we have a very clear vision and direction. Along the way, we try to tolerate one another. After all this time since we began our business partnership, I feel we are in excellent shape now.
Being in a big group, there must be some moments when you all don’t agree on certain things. How do you guys resolve conflicts?
A: It's very clear that we are fighting a war not among us, but based on the issues and challenges our business faced. We went through a lot of rounds of arguments and heated conversations within closed doors, but when we go out then, the world is good again.
M: It's always for the company's benefit. So, if there is anything, any opinion, suggestion, conflict among ideas, it's always towards the company's direction.
What is in the pipeline for the team and SongkRUN?
M: Basically, we plan to expand SongkRUN to other Asian countries. We are trying to get funds, through crowdfunding and mutual funds. We intend to go to Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. In Malaysia, we will also probably do it in Penang. SongkRUN will not just be an annual event, but will depend on the line-up we are planning to do in the year. Around Asia and further, we are planning to do 30-50 events.
J: The task we are facing right now is how to go overseas because we are considered the 'new kids on the block' regarding overseas expansion. So we even registered with MATRADE, attend trade fairs. We’d like to know how to coordinate with foreign partners.
M: These are the challenges we have to face, and we hope to achieve all the goals we have set as soon as possible.
With perseverance, teamwork, and patience, it’s no wonder SongkRUN Water Run is one of the most successful home ground events of 2016. And with these, the guys of SongkRUN surely have so much in store for their fans to make sure everyone will have an awesome good time when they experience this one-of-a-kind event come next year.
SongkRUN Water Run is happening on 26 March 2017 at MAEPS, Serdang, Malaysia. Book your Early Bird tickets here from now till 16 January 2017 to get RM23 off on all Standard and Shooter packs. Plus, get additional RM10 discount when you key-in EASYUNI upon checkout. Limited to first 100 readers only!
For more information about SongkRUN Water Run, visit songkrun.com.