Sundown Marathon Singapore 2014: 30,000 Runners Bring on the Night in Country’s Largest Night Marathon
The 7th installment of the Sundown Marathon Singapore brought back one of Singapore's most popular races and Asia's largest night race, attracting 30,000 participants from around the globe on Saturday night.
This year saw some interesting route additions for the first time, such as the inclusion of the iconic Benjamin Sheares Bridge and specially lighted areas called 'Glow Zones' which served as unique light works along selected parts of race routes.
Running in the Cool of the Night
With a buildup of pre-race practice runs, regular newsletters and an impressive race pack collection, I was intrigued to see what the Sundown Marathon Singapore could bring that was different to the plethora of running events on the Singapore racing calendar.
I've run a fair few marathons across the world but never one in the middle of the night. Not being the biggest fan of the relentless sun and energy-sapping Singapore humidity, the thought of taking part in the Sundown marathon, ran completely from dusk until dawn, seemed pretty exciting. As the tag line said, I was ready "Bring on the Night"!
Gather Runners of All Kinds at Sundown
Having spent the day resting my legs and sneaking in a quick nap, I arrived at the race village with plenty of time to mull around and ponder why were there so many people keen to run a race at 10pm on a Saturday night, rather than out partying, or as I felt I should be…. fast asleep!
"This is a Singapore running must",
said a Sundown Marathon first-timer, Shaik Humarhamdani.
"I wanted a challenge and to get out of my comfort zone. Doing a night marathon is something different. I'm running it with two of my friends and we hope this will be a good race for us."
With 4 different race categories (10km, half marathon, marathon and a team event), a quick scan of the crowd assembling at the start area showed that the Sundown attracts a varied crowd of seasoned road racers looking for a new PB, as well as recreational runners aiming to test their running skills during the quiet of night.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
I ran the full marathon that started at the F1 Pit building and followed a familiar route out along the Nicoll Highway, looping down to East Coast Park then back to the city along Sheares Avenue.
And we were lucky. The rain that threatened stayed away and left almost perfect conditions with little breeze and temperatures cooler than usual. Pop this together with an electric pre-run atmosphere, I thought maybe this could be the recipe for a Singapore marathon PB.
Enjoying Singapore's Moments of Nocturnal Tranquility
On the whole, this was a well organized and thought out race. Opening the starting pens seemed a little chaotic with pre-race excitement leading to jostling to get through narrow barriers. On the F1 pit lane side, live music band music and instructors led some warm ups, and adequate toilet facilities meant the build up prepared us all well for the flag off at precisely 11.30pm.
Obviously running at night means that your usual spectator crowds are a little thin. Not a bad thing for those of us used to the hustle and bustle of Singapore life. Instead I could cruise along to the sound only of my own footsteps, focus on my pace whilst appreciating some of Singapore's nocturnal creatures in East Coast Park (both human and non-human!).
My Thoughts on the Race
The course was generally well lit and marked out. Potential trip hazards around the uneven ground at Marina Barrage were manned by marshals and runner's common sense to slow down. Water stops appeared well stocked (although there was feedback that these ran short at East Coast Park towards the end), manned by a surprisingly enthusiastic and vocal band of volunteers. There were clear distance markers placed every kilometer, and these were a helpful reminder to keep check of your pace.
It was a little frustrating to hit a wall of runners as the marathon and half marathon routes merged around 32km. The narrow paths at Gardens by the Bay and along Collier Quay Road need to be thought out to avoid unnecessary congestion for tired legs.
Luckily, the spectacular backdrop of the Singapore CBD lit up at night diverted attention away from this for the most part. Singapore truly is a beautiful city!
Supporting Sundown With Love
Away from the route, spectators cheering their friends and family were well looked after with an array of entertainment and activity options to keep any sleepy eyed supporter awake - a marathon movie screening, food outlets (hot dogs, pizza) and massages, to name a few.
One of the highlights of this year's Sundown Marathon was the charity outreach programme – Sundown With Love. With this, the marathon included a special category for handcyclists from Handcycling Association of Singapore (one of Sundown With Love's beneficiaries) in the full marathon event and an exclusive Hand Cycling Sprint event. Six handcyclists competed in the full marathon, while 14 junior handcylists took part in the sprint category.
Podium Finishes and Timing
Russell Ericksen from USA won the male's marathon, with a timing of 3 hours and 3 seconds, while Susan Jemutai Chepkwony from Kenya came in first for the women marathon, at 3 hours 28 minutes and 33 seconds.
Mok Ying Rong, the younger sister of SEA Games Gold medallist Mok Ying Ren, also won the Women's half marathon category. The 21-year-old aspiring physiotherapist from Nanyang Polytechnic crossed the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 34 minutes and 6 seconds. Geoffery Birgen from Kenya took the male half marathon winner's spot with 1 hour, 14 minutes and 59 seconds.
High-Spirited Sundown Experience
Finishing in a tad over 3 hours and 56 minutes, I realize now a few more night runs would have prepared the body clock and looking at my pre-race fueling strategy may have helped with energy levels during the race.
A great running experience that I am glad to have ticked off my Singapore racing calendar but not quite a Singapore marathon PB yet... I guess that's an excuse to come back again next year for Sundown 2015!
- Race Course was generally well lit, with plenty of distance markers and safety marshals manning potential trip hazards.
- Marathon and half marathon merging at the narrow paths at Gardens by the Bay and Collyer Quay Road caused congestion.
- Generally well-stocked water stations manned by enthusiastic volunteers.
- Plenty of activities to keep spectators and runners entertained during and after the race.