When registration figures hit 35,000 in record-breaking fashion within nine days (of opening) sometime back in July, RunSociety had its eyebrows raised. Amidst the slew of other races that envelope Singapore’s saturated race calendar, we were aware that the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) had gained some commendable traction during its pre-race phase. Nonetheless, sceptical as we’ve always been, we took it with a pinch of salt. Having been entrenched in more empty disappointments than promises fulfilled, you simply can’t blame us for our firsthand approach. We were proven wrong.
Where should we start? As early as 3am, in ghost town Orchard Road, the ‘vibe’ engine was already revving into full gear. Volunteers swarmed the grounds distributing water, courtesy of Ice Mountain, in a bid to get athletes sufficiently hydrated before the race commenced proper. There were others as well, of which we’re at no liberty to talk about but just so you know, many of them arrived as early as 2am. Some at 1am. With the precision in planning and attention to detail we observed, we already knew it was going to be one hell of a race – in a good way of course. The weather was void of the ensuing thunderstorms we’ve all been accustomed to during this monsoon season: a definite boon to the organisers and participants alike. With the sounding siren and a charismatic display of Japanese drumming prowess, we witnessed the most massive send-off yet along the Orchard belt – at least in 2011.
But our prose above is a mere sliver of the mammoth race. There were still the Half Marathon flag-off at Sentosa as well as the 10 kilometres and 5-kilometre Fun Run close to the Padang. What a race we tell you. What a race!
Race organisation matters aside, let’s talk about what the SCMS is really all about – the human spirit. It’d be rather cliché if we said everyone ran their own race – conquering their personal ‘demons’ head-on. You know what? It is as we say it to be. While a majority set out with a goal to complete their respective distances or hit personal targets, there were also those that did so for a cause. At least half of the time, these efforts would tow along some form of fundraising capacity. RunSociety was fortunate to stumble upon a group of four ladies (out of seven) at the Padang who wore similar tank-tops which wrote “In memory of so and so” – we left out the initials on purpose.
“We’re a part of an antenatal group. We met last year when we were all pregnant and one of the ladies who was in our group had a baby stillborn last Christmas Day. So we’re running in memory of him today. We all did the 10 kilometres. There are seven of us who ran together,” says Verity Goodliffe, 35, Teacher. “The good news or the great news is since she’s had a little boy, Billy, so she couldn’t come to watch us today but we’re running for a good cause I think. We’re trying to raise money for Child Bereavement Support (Singapore).”
Kenya, once again, dominated the Full Marathon categories with the Men’s Open category being won by Charles Mwai Kanyao (2hrs 14min 33sec), and last year’s winner, Irene Jerotich Kosgei (2hrs 36min 42sec), retaining her crown in the Women‟s Open category. There’s no doubt they ran their hearts and lungs out but we suppose that US$50,000 cheque made that humidity battle worth it.
Compared with races like the New York Marathon, people may argue that their winning times are somewhat modest to say the least. Don’t forget though, this is the tropics.
On the periphery, local runners, Mok Ying Ren (2hrs 46min 01sec) and Qi Hui (3hrs 06min 20sec), repeated their 2010 feat in the Full Marathon Singaporean – Men and Women – category. Kudos especially to Mok who was injury plagued prior to the race.
“I feel very happy as I defended my title and I was injured for the past four months. My fans were helping me along the way, telling me where my competitors were and I adjusted my pace along the way. I’m very happy as my main aim to run is to convince others to start a healthy lifestyle.” shares Mok.
Yes, it’s really about inculcating that message of healthy living to the general populace isn’t it? Nice to know we have our very own inspirational figures in our backyard.
Overall, except for a few kinks, we believe runners have a little to complain about. Well unfortunately, the convergence issue around Marina Bay Sands – where Full and Half Marathoners together with 10-kilometre runners merge – resurfaced even with corrective measures put in place. The lack of distance markers also came up when we probed runners after their run. Hopefully, they’ll be properly rectified come 2012.
Lastly, let’s not forget the ‘pacers’, without whom, runners might get besieged by the monotony of constant road strides.
“Yes we’re the pacers and we’re a bunch of volunteers that got together starting several months ago to train for this. So we all run at very specific paces to finish the race at a very specific time for example, 4 hours, 4 hours 15 minutes. And runners can follow us if that is their time goal.” says David Chung, 41, IT Manager.
Reiterating the commitment and work undertaken to groom each ‘pacer’, Chung adds “The SSC (Singapore Sports Council) is the overall organiser of the event but basically, the Racers’ Toolbox, which is a sports kind of lab are also kind of trainers as well so they organised and trained us. They are also the ones that did the video series on training tips for runners in general. We’re all volunteers and there was a programme where we could sign up for it and there are certain criteria, so they look at your run experience and by right, your own personal best should be around half an hour or more faster than the pace that you are responsible for today.”
To the gentleman who lost his life at the FINISH line, rest in peace brother. RunSociety sends its condolences to all his friends and close family.
FULL MARATHON OPEN (MEN)
- Charles Mwai Kanyao (Kenya) – 2hrs 14min 33sec
- Luka Kipkemoi Chelimo (Kenya) – 2hrs 14min 38sec
- John Kelai (Kenya) – 2hrs 15min 45sec
FULL MARATHON OPEN (WOMEN)
- Irene Jerotich Kosgei (Kenya) – 2hrs 36min 42sec
- Roman Gebregessesse (Ethiopia) – 2hrs 37min 30sec
- Magadelene Mukunzi (Kenya) – 2hrs 38min 06sec
FULL MARATHON SINGAPOREAN (MEN)
- Mok Ying Ren (Singapore) – 2hrs 46min 01sec
- Ang Chee Yong (Singapore) – 2hrs 49min 06sec
- Soon Suan Boon Paul (Singapore) – 2hrs 49min 37sec
FULL MARATHON SINGAPOREAN (WOMEN)
- Qi Hui (Singapore) – 3hrs 06min 20sec
- Elaine Lim Su Lin (Singapore) – 3hrs 20min 14sec
- Angie Tan (Singapore) – 3hrs 24min 44sec
HALF MARATHON OPEN (MEN)
- Benard Mwendia Muthoni (Kenya) – 1hrs 08min 33sec
- Soh Rui Yong (Singapore) – 1hrs 15min 34sec
- William Kimutai Kurgat (Kenya) – 1hrs 15min 56sec
HALF MARATHON OPEN (WOMEN)
- Esther Wambui Karimi (Kenya) – 1hrs 22min 27sec
- Satoko (Japan) – 1hrs 23min 02sec
- Yucabeth Chelangat Bore (Kenya) – 1hrs 25min 29sec
10KM OPEN (MEN)
- Kent Normark (Denmark) – 35min 02sec
- Alfred Chan Hon Man (Hong Kong) – 35min 10sec
- Arthur Chan Hok Man (Hong Kong) – 35min 19sec
10KM OPEN (WOMEN)
- Malene Munkholm (Denmark) – 41min 43sec
- Sylvia Md Arwan (Brunei Darussalam) – 46min 25sec
- Kalsang Gyalzur (Switzerland) – 46min 52sec