I am one of the late marathon finishers, but I was proud of my Singapore Marathon 2018 race experience
"Keep moving and don't stop, earn that medal!"
This is only my second time participating in Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. I ran the marathon (42.195KM) last year and this year, I am back to challenge myself again for the marathon distance. I'm honoured to be given a complimentary ticket from RunSociety to participate in this race.
This year, the 17th edition of SCSM has changed the venue to F1 Pit building and introduced a new route as well, with a new tagline: "OURS TO RUN".
They also introduced a new double up challenge for runners who want to sign up for 2 races within the same event. This made it possible as the 5KM, 10KM and Kids Dash were held on Saturday and Half Marathon, Marathon, Ekiden and Wheelchair categories on Sunday. It was a running festival weekend in Singapore!
Race Pack Collection
Race pack collection was held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre from 5 - 8 December 2018.
I went to collect my race pack on Thursday after 2 p.m., as I wanted to avoid the lunchtime crowd. There was no queue when I arrived and I could collect my bib and race pack immediately. I was given my bib and a transparent drawstring bag meant for runners who want to deposit their belongings on race day. There was also a white sticker bearing the bib number that I must paste on the transparent bag before depositing. Personal bags were not allowed, we could only use the transparent bag provided.
I was told to proceed to another counter to collect my singlet and the goodie bag. The whole process was swift and efficient. I realised the bibs have no participant's name and they were the same colour for both men and women. A pair of sunglasses were found in the goodie bag as well.
After collection, I moved on to explore the race expo. It was huge and there were tons of merchandise that runners could shop. I purchased some energy gels and salt caps which were what I needed. It took me quite a while to walk out of the expo area as I was stopped by Insurance personnel to do a survey, some companies who would give away small gifts by asking us to like their facebook page, etc.
There were many interesting booths selling running related stuff and also there were other marathon organisers who were promoting their events as well, such as Hokkaido Marathon, Okinawa Marathon, Phuket Marathon and the local Sundown Marathon.
I was sick most of the days for the past 2 weeks with flu, diarrhoea, body aches and fever. I was worried about whether I could safely complete this marathon. I woke up at 2 a.m and was feeling fine, except for a headache. So I washed down 2 paracetamol pills and off I went.
Upon reaching F1 Pit, I walked along and saw that runners would enter the race village via 2 separate lanes: Bag Lane and Express Lane (No Bag). People entering through the bag lane would need to have their bags checked by the security personnel. I entered through the express lane as I did not bring any bags.
The race village was spacious with lots of portable toilets, probably adequate as I did not see really long queues. There were 7 pens from A to G for runners of different estimated finish time to enter the start pen. This really spread out the huge number of runners and made it more pleasant to start the race with people of similar running pace.
Bag deposit was facilitated based on different pen area as well, I guess it was smooth as there weren't any queues. It was a relief for many runners compared to the nightmarish bag deposit experience last year at Orchard Road.
I entered the starting pen and was surprised to see how organised the pen area was. Pen A to G was separated by barricades and runners were sitting down waiting at their respective pen in an orderly manner. It was a nice cooling morning and weather forecast had indicated rain shower in the morning. I was expecting to be drenched in rain and was quite happy about it. Little did I expect to be baked under the scorching sun soon after sunrise.
The elite wheelchair was flagged off at 4.30 a.m followed by elite runners and the rest of the runners. I am happy with this year's new route. It was the first time I was running at West Coast Highway. It was both refreshing and scenic.
After I made the U-turn at close to 13KM, the sun was rising and I saw the beautiful sunrise in the sky. The sun came out looking fierce and I started to worry about later part of the race, it seemed to be a quite a cloudless day.
There were a couple of performances along the route like singers, musical bands etc. However, it was quite minimal and uneventful.
Distance markers were accurate and hydration points were more than adequate in every 2KM or so. The hydration table was long, supplying both cold water and isotonic drinks. Volunteers did their job well. There were 2 hydration points that supplying energy gels and bananas.
There were many portable toilets as well near the hydration area, with big signs. Medical tents were in red with prominent signs as well, so people would not miss them if they need help.
There were splash zones where runners could opt to have their heads washed with water. There were more mist tunnels and powerful fans installed compared to last year. I appreciate the fans but the mist in the tunnels was not powerful enough and I could barely feel anything in the tunnels.
It would be fantastic if the mist could be made stronger and cold. However, I did stay in the tunnels for a while to escape from the blistering heat.
As the weather was getting hotter and hotter, I was soon feeling lethargic close to 30KM mark, though I was really only jogging at a relaxed pace from the beginning. The sun was burning in those long stretches of shadeless road. When I finally reached one of the splash zones, I wanted to have my head splashed with water but unfortunately, they ran out of the water!
I was really suffering but persevered till I saw a volunteer was giving out ice. I took some ice and placed on top of my head as it was burning. Then I realised I brought along a small plastic bag meant for my phone in case it rains, I used that bag to hold the ice and placed it on my head, secured by my visor.
As the ice was melting, the water escaped from the opening and was dripping onto my face. I was feeling much better and it was like I created my personal "rain". The water continued to drip onto my face every few seconds. I think the ice could have saved me from fainting.
I was one of the late finishers and closed to giving up but kudos to the volunteers who were still working hard to provide hydration and encouragement. At the final 1KM stretch, I heard someone saying "keep moving and don't stop, earn that medal!". That kept me going and I felt relief once I spotted the finishing arch.
Someone put the medal on my neck and I had to keep walking to get the rest of the finisher items like finisher tee and drinks. It felt like I walked 1,000 meters from the finishing line to eventually get to the resting area with shade (finally!).
I was given a cold towel, mineral water, 100 Plus, banana and a packet of chips. The marathon medal is humongous and heavy. It is 4 inches in diameter and weighs about 260 grams. It was advertised as gold colour but the actual medal is actually bronze in colour.
It is the largest medal I have ever earned. The quality is superb with beautiful carvings. At the back of the medal, there is also a space to write/carve your name and finish time.
Congratulations Ironman Asia for the very well-organised event this year. It is indeed a world-class running event that any avid runners will not want to miss.
Congratulations to all finishers. Whether you achieved your personal best or personal worst, celebrate your achievement, rest and recover.