As someone who’s been a mostly-faithful participant in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) since its inception 15 years ago, I couldn’t imagine not being part of the scene on the 3rd and 4th of December, but in fact, I waited until the last minute to register and then decided to skip this year.
My decision had nothing to do with the way the event is run. Nor am I one of those whiny complainers with a propensity for criticising and bashing every little slight, but from the moment I made my decision, I knew it was the right one.
Will I be part of the 2017 event next December? I don’t see why not. After all, this is a Singapore tradition and nobody loves traditions more than I do. Lots of my running buddies see positive changes on the horizon thanks to Ironman organisers, so that is likely to sweeten the deal. See if you don’t understand why I took a pass this year by reading my journal entries!
Journal entry #1
I jotted down the deadlines for registration of the SCMS 2016. This has become “standard operating procedure” for me since the first SCMS took place 15 years ago, and while I’ve missed a couple over time for some good reasons (travelling abroad, getting engaged and becoming a parent!), calendaring this particular race has become part of the ritual I’ve established for myself over the years.
Journal entry #2
Met up with my run club buddies for our weekly post-conditioning meal and I can’t believe how many of them spent half of our time together complaining about the SCMS! Registration hasn’t even closed, yet several of them have already decided to take a pass.
They seem stuck in the past, recalling reaching a hydration station only to find that there wasn’t a single bottle of water left. I don’t get it. We’re supposed to be athletes, not whiners.
Journal entry #3
News is circulating within the running community about no early morning rail service on the 3rd and 4th of December. Wow. I worry about oversleeping and it didn’t add to my decision to register for the Standard once I heard this news.
On the other hand, relatively new organiser Ironman has just announced it booked buses to claim runners from 30 pick-up locations that will drop participants near the Orchard Road and Esplanade start lines. I now have two 25th November deadlines since that’s the last day I can get my hands on bus tickets, too.
Journal entry #4
I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and he delivered some bad news. It appears I have asthma. Fortunately, a quick Internet search turned me onto a great article titled, “6 Tips for Runners with Asthma.” Excellent.
I received a terrific education on the topic thanks to content in this article. I learned the importance of taking meds my doc prescribed, carrying a rescue inhaler (shorts with pockets essential!) and warming up properly. I can’t control Singapore weather. But I won’t let it stop me from the Standard if I decide to run.
Journal entry #5
As that bus pass deadline nears, I consult the website to check on registrations. There seem to be fewer registrants this year. Perhaps, like me, they’re undecided, which brings to mind an issue that’s troubled me for years: why — as other marathons I’ve run do — isn’t there some way to get a partial refund if I sign up and then decide not to participate.
Some of my mates don’t run this event for that reason; they know they will lose their fee if something cataclysmic occurs and there’s a strict registration cancellation policy. On the other hand, I guess it’s fair. If thousands of people decide to cancel near the event, organisers would go crazy.
Journal entry #6
Talk about pressure! I’ve got just a week to decide whether or not to register for the Standard and as my personal trainer reminded me, it’s do or die time! So I sit down and make a list of what I like and what I don’t like about the SCMS and determine that this is the criteria I will use to make my decision.
On the positive side, I love the awesome handbook published by the sponsor and available on the race website. The Standard literally sets a standard when it comes to all-around race excellence. I’m familiar with this run so there are no unpleasant surprises awaiting me. Looks like my boss just got to the office, so I’m going to have to come up with negatives tomorrow, dear journal!
Journal entry #7
As promised, a list of reasons why I should just take a pass on 2016. First, lots of my close friends won’t be running for varying reasons that range from silly complaints to serious personal issues and frankly, how much fun will it be to spend this much money when they’re not around to motivate me?
On the other hand, I won’t miss the bottleneck at the start point — people all hyped up on adrenaline exhibiting no patience, so they do nothing but complain. If the weather proves to be the “same old, same old,” I’ll give my newly-diagnosed asthma a break and save my entry fees for another race when the weather is better.
Journal entry #8
My husband is pushing me to make my decision today because I'm starting to lose sleep over feeling conflicted. Additionally, my Mum is worried. She’s taken my asthma diagnosis to heart and fears for my health after looking at a long-range forecast that predicts typical Singapore temps and humidity.
My friends are planning to be on the sidelines cheering on those in our crowd who are participating, and they’ve invited me to join them, so it’s not like I’d miss the excitement.
In the end, my balance sheet is heavily weighted on the “don’t go" side, and the moment I made that decision, I could feel the weight of this burden vanish. I believe in fate. For reasons I know nothing about, I'm confident that I wasn't meant to run this year.
Journal entry #9
What was it like to stand along the barricades and cheer on fellow runners with great gusto? It was fun. Did I feel left out? Not much. With so many enthusiastic people clustered along the routes and at finish lines for each event, I came to realise how impersonal giant races have become.
Perhaps my nostalgia comes from having participated in the first event 15 years ago. Regrets? Not one. I’ve saved my entry fee for smaller races where I feel more connected to fellow runners and my mum can relax.
Does this mean I’ll skip SCMS 2017? Don’t be silly. I always leave my options open. Besides, organisers make improvements to the race every year, so why wouldn’t I put it on my 2017 schedule for the year ahead if it feels right?
Have you ever been in a quandary about whether or not to book a marathon because you’ve run it in the past and feel a weird obligation to stick with that commitment? We’d love to hear about your reasoning and decision-making process.
Sandi Low is a Singaporean wife, mom, runner and event planner who finds that journaling is a super way to keep track of her life in the fast lane. Her runner husband is the first to agree that it's very therapeutic!
The article is contributed by members of the community. All stories are based on real life personal experiences or actual events encountered by the authors and related parties. Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Editing by RunSociety