The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) is the marquee running event of Singapore's sporting calendar. Every first Sunday of December, thousands of participants from all walks of life run past some of Singapore's iconic landmarks such as the Esplanade and Sentosa. Marathon runners also get to soak up the festive atmosphere as they run under the twinkling lights of Orchard Road.
In 2012, SCMS retained its Gold Label status by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), placing it among the company of the world's elite races such as the New York City Marathon and the London Marathon. As the highlight of Singapore's running calendar, the Marathon helped grow the running culture in Singapore. It began with just 6,000 runners in 2002, reaching a peak of 65,000 runners in 2011. In 2012, the theme – "Run for a Reason" – encouraged all runners to submit their individual reasons for taking part in the Marathon.
SCMS 2013 has featured three different start points and routes for the Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km. The Kids Dash also offered aspiring little runners the chance to experience the Marathon, while the Ekiden fostered both teamwork and strategic planning among a team of six runners completing the Marathon in a relay format.
Our colleague Clara Tan, an multinational hard-working woman and runner has decided once again to tell us about the last challenge she faced up only some days ago.
I started marathoning in Singapore in my early 20s, and couldn’t even remember what the event was called then. Straits Times or New Nation?
In recent years the event has been mainly sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank. There is a choice of six race categories: Full Marathon, Full Marathon Ekiden (team of 6 relay), Half Marathon, 10K, 10K Wheelchair, and the 750M Kids Dash.
Since moving to the UK nearly 25 years ago, I have run in many different races, but not in Singapore apart from short training runs when visiting relatives. I was lured back to the Marathon three years ago when one of my nephews, a triathlete and some 30 odd years younger than me, entered the race. In my self-elevated mind, I thought I could outrun him given my fairly consistent conditioning running in difficult terrains in the UK and in Europe. That was 2011, and I was 12 minutes behind him. My excuse was that the heat got to me! I returned in 2012 and did worse due to the extreme heat on the day. My nephew did not run then, or this year. He has decided to concentrate on the shorter distances.
2013 and here I was again. Arriving three days before the race day to give myself time to acclimatise to the heat and humidity, I was pleased that there had been rainy spells and cooler temperature generally. It would be great if it rained the night before too, and I wouldn’t mind rain on race day itself. Every little helps!
The start point was at Orchard Road, right outside the Mandarin Orchard Hotel. The Christmas lights added to the festive mood as runners gathered in their pens chatting and taking photos of the beautiful Christmas decorations and displays that lined the length of Orchard Road. This race definitely has one of the most festive atmosphere of the races I’d run in. We were to pass through some other spots along the way that were also brightly lit and the entertainment and volunteer/spectator support along the whole way was fantastic. There were bands, dancers, drummers, stilt walkers, cheer groups; you name it and they’re there!
Even though this is a fairly flat course, it is not known to be a fast race and I expect that is because of the humidity more than anything else. The Men’s and Women’s Open first place results below give an idea of how ‘tough’ the race can be.
It did rain in the night, and by flag off at 05:00 hours, it felt like nice running condition. My strategy was to go easy all the way. I nearly suffered heat stroke last year and I didn’t fancy going through that again! The first half of the race took us through the city centre and through some old and new landmarks, some of which were brightly lit with Christmas lights. I even stopped a couple of times to take some snapshots, as did many other runners.
The bit I was dreading was the East Coast along the beach. It was a loop-around stretch whereby you could see the fast runners coming from the opposite direction and that could be rather demoralising. But, if you were in fairly good condition, you could also see the front runners on the way! For some reason, perhaps I’d paced myself well, I was actually enjoying this stretch this time. The skies were overcast and the waves were coming in, and it was buzzing with overnight campers, picnickers, marshals and supporters.
I finished the race 28 minutes better than last year even though it was still a fairly slow time for me. The finish point was well organised. We were channelled through quickly and efficiently, collecting our medals and finishers shirts. That’s the thing; you get a race vest and some smaller useful items in your race pack, and at the end of the race you get a tech shirt, a medal and post snacks and drinks – all for an equivalent of £40 entry fee.
First Place Results
Marathon Men’s Open Chelimo Luka Kipkemoi 02:14:59.94
Marathon Women’s Open Sharon Cherop 02:41:11:04