Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) organiser, Ironman Asia, revealed that plans are underway to make the 2018 edition of SCSM a night race. According to Geoff Meyer, the Managing Director of Ironman Asia, to make SCSM an iconic event and earn entry into the World Marathon Majors (WMM), it needs to have a ‘wow’ factor. Meyer said,
The big factor for World Marathon Majors is you need to have a ‘wow’ factor – London, New York, Chicago… they have huge crowds, huge atmosphere. It’s a running experience that’s second to none. That’s where we need to change and we are working with the Government at the moment to be able to do that.
What we need to do to make this event iconic and put it on the global map is what Formula One has done by turning it into a night event. We can flag off at 5pm or 6pm and run under the city lights with the finish at about midnight with fireworks. We can create a real running festival around it. And we are really focusing on doing that in 2018.
Only six cities have earned Major status – Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, New York and Chicago. However all the Majors are held during the day with the Boston and London marathons flagging off at 10 a.m.
Full Marathon Scene in Singapore
Currently, the only two full marathon races in Singapore are Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and Sundown Marathon. SCSM is a day race where runners experience running around Singapore iconic landmarks in the morning. Meanwhile, Sundown Marathon is a night race where runners are flagged off after sunset.
Besides these two major road races, TheGreenRace is a trail race that offers 42km as one of the categories.
The Advantages of SCSM Becoming a Night Marathon
- With SCSM becoming a night race, runners of SCSM will be able to have sufficient sleep on the race day and enjoy running in a lower temperature environment at night. This is a major advantage for runners looking to set a PB on Singapore’s soil.
- And since SCSM is the only AIMS certified race in Singapore, and an International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label race since 2012, Singapore runners will have a better chance of getting a recognised Boston Qualifying timing (BQ) at home ground.
- People who work during the day and run at night will find night races more appealing because they do not need to make any adjustments to their running style. With the flag off scheduled around late afternoon, runners get the best of both worlds, the scenic view during the day as well as the city’s captivating night lights.
- Instead of worrying about early morning train operation or shuttle buses, runners will be able to take public transport to the race event. If runners finish before midnight, which is highly possible if the race flags off at 5 or 6 p.m., they can take public transport again to go back home. It’s win-win situation for both runners and organiser.
- When SCSM finally gets the WMM status, it could probably be the ‘must-do’ race for overseas runners who want to experience the unique concept of running a WMM race at night. Thus, the race will benefit the tourism industry.
- Supporters play a huge part in major marathons. Cheering for friends and family members on a night race means nobody needs to wake up early morning. This, hopefully, will attract more supporters and create a spectacular atmosphere.
The Disadvantages of SCSM Becoming a Night Marathon
- If SCSM becomes a night race in 2018, there will be no more full-marathon road race in Singapore that takes place in the morning. Morning runners who often find tranquillity when running before dawn need to find their morning marathon fix elsewhere, outside the country.
- Homegrown brand Sundown Marathon has been Asia’s largest night run for several years. If a night race is the key to becoming a World Marathon Majors (WMM), the authority probably should support Sundown Marathon to earn entry into the WMM instead of encouraging SCSM to ditch its original and beloved morning race concept and compete for Asia’s largest night run title.
- A night race that takes place around the city’s iconic landmarks will cause huge disruption to traffic due to road closures. For comparison, the route for F1 race is only 5km per lap. The scale of road closure associated with SCSM is much bigger than that of F1 race, as there are 42km, 21km and 10km routes that need to be closed during the evening peak hours.
- Runners will face hassles when they can’t finish the race before midnight, as normal public transport ceases operation by midnight. Thus, they need to rely on expensive cabs or shuttle buses. Also, if the race extends into past midnight, race supporters may need to stay awake past their bedtimes and have difficulties going back home.
Morning or Night?
The first edition of Singapore Marathon dates back to 1982. Changing the format of a race with such a long history is a risky move. Will this change bring a positive impact to SCSM and running community in Singapore? Or, will it turn out to be a bad decision? Will the potential payoff justify the risk that organiser is taking? Will SCSM lose its charm by becoming another night race in Singapore?
Other than to add a ‘wow’ element, what do you think are the possible reasons that affect organiser’s decision to change SCSM into a night race, especially since there is already an established night race, Sundown Marathon in Singapore since 2008 that offers a full marathon category?
Is it possible that the hot and humid weather in Singapore make morning races unattractive to runners from all over the world? Or could it be that Singapore is perceived to be more beautiful at night than in the morning? Or, perhaps, there is a relentless challenge to provide free or cheap public transportation early in the morning? What do you think?