We spent the first weekend of the 2019 September school holidays at the Mandiri Bintan Marathon and I wish I could say that this momma ran a marathon but nah. The kid and I did get active though, at the Bintan Marathon’s first-ever Family Run.
This second edition of the Bintan Marathon saw over 3,000 runners taking part across five categories. One of these was the 3km Family Run, which we participated in. It was almost a no-go, as the kid got hit by a bout of stomach flu the day before and spent an entire night vomiting. The next day, after the ‘merlion-ing’ eased, the fever started.
But we had made a commitment, so off we went. One rather choppy 60-minute ferry ride (tip: iPad games are a great nausea distraction for kids), and one 20-minute bus ride later, we are at Lagoi Bay, together with other invited media from Singapore.
Lagoi Bay, the Bintan Marathon hub
The Mandiri Bintan Marathon hub is at Lagoi Bay, Bintan’s new shopping and dining destination. This sprawling complex houses restaurants, cafes, spas, and minimarts, making it a one-stop recreational outlet for visitors to the island.
This is where we collect our race pack just hours before the run. We also get in a quick lunch at Warung Yeah!, which has the best satay in Bintan, Batam, and dare I say it – Singapore. Every morsel of meat is moist and succulent, with just the right proportion of oiliness and charred doneness at the sides. I don’t know what they add to the sauce, but it is a marvellous mixture of nutty and savoury smoothness I want to lick up after all the satay is gone. If you come here, order it.
RUN: Bintan Marathon Family Run
It is 30 minutes before the run and families are already crowding round the start line. Their excitement is palpable. People are taking selfies and wefies; some are even dancing on the road. The kid is still feeling queasy so we are hiding in the shade of a pillar. Because of this we miss the first wave flag-off, but are front and centre for the second wave flag-off. A couple of rousing cheers and some butt-wiggling dance moves later, the horn blasts, and we’re off.
At just 3km long, this non-competitive fun run is the perfect distance for little ones. While officially open to children aged four to 12 years, we see many younger ones, some as young as two years, ambling along as well.
It is blisteringly hot, but the scenic route helps take our minds off the heat. We walk along the water’s edge, with lush greenery as our backdrop. Five carnival games throughout the race route add to the fun. The kid and I take it slow and easy, at a stomach-friendly pace. Toddlers overtake us but it’s okay. There are smiles and laughter everywhere. No one is rushing, everyone is simply enjoying the moment.
One thing makes the Bintan Marathon Family Run stand out. As we approach the end, race crew hold up a finish line for every child to run through. This small but significant gesture lets each kid end their run feeling like a champ — no matter how long they take to complete it. It’s thoughtful, and it helps empower each child in a little way. I love it.
FUN: Post-Run Race Village Fun
By the time we make it back to the race village, post-run festivities are in full swing. There’s a band belting out pop songs, people posing at photo backdrops, and even a lucky draw where someone wins a wine chiller. A relaxed, resort-y vibe is in the air as we wander around sniffing good smells from the pop-up tents selling food and drink.
But the tent that catches my eye is the one with a mountain of green balls, and a couple of abangs with choppers, hacking at them. Coconuts! This is probably the only run the world that hands out free coconuts!
The Race Village location at Lagoi Bay’s beachfront boardwalk is lovely. The sun is setting, its rays casting a golden glow upon everything they touch. Kids are running around, playing on the sand, and in the water. Three kilometres was not enough to tire them out!
(See also: 15 Super-Fun Kids Runs in Singapore)
STAY: Bintan Lagoon Resort
For race day convenience, you can book transfers from your resort to Lagoi Bay. There are also shuttle buses that ply between the venue and the resorts. We are staying at Bintan Lagoon Resort, which is about 20 minutes away. This sprawling property is one of the island’s first resorts, and home to two world-class gold courses. The rooms are showing their age, but who goes on holiday to stay indoors?
If you have young children, this family-friendly resort will keep them busy throughout your holiday. There’s a play area right at the lobby, with slides, rides, and a movie screening nook so kids are entertained from the point they step into the resort — right up to the moment they leave.
Water babies have their own dedicated kids’ pool – it’s huge! – next to the resort’s leisure centre. A kids’ club organises activities to keep young ones occupied, or they can work off energy at the Jungle Gym (free entry!). Older ones can try their hand at batik painting, borrow board games, play table football, table tennis, and more. There are more action-packed activities like ATV rides, adventure training, paintball, archery as well.
RUN AGAIN: Bintan Marathon 2020
The next Bintan Marathon is happening from 4-5 July 2020. We’ve checked, and 6 July 2020 is a scheduled Youth Day holiday for children attending local schools in Singapore. So all you have to do is take leave on that day to enjoy a long weekend with the kids. How about doing a run-cation in Bintan?
Header image: Bintan Resorts International