28 April 17 The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA
The organiser of the renamed Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) has set a three-year target to become part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM), an international series that features the largest and most famous marathons in the world.
The six stops are in Tokyo, London, Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston, and they regularly attract a world-class field, plus an attractive prize purse.
The SCSM, previously called the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, has been an International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label race since 2012, but organiser Ironman Asia has grander ambitions. Its managing director Geoff Meyer said that while the Singapore marathon "ticks many of the boxes", such as its location in a key global city and strong heritage and history, one key area it lacks is the unique atmosphere that WMM events have.
One way to create this aura, he said at yesterday's launch at Marina Bay Sands, is to consider turning the Singapore marathon into a night race.
He said: "The city of Singapore is a night city - you can come to Marina Bay to run at 7am and you'll have the whole place to yourself.
Sign up for ST Run as well to get exclusive gift
The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) has partnered this year's The Straits Times Run, taking place on July 16. Those who sign up for both events will get an exclusive gift - a 10-litre dry bag.
National marathoner Mok Ying Ren is also helming an eight-month training plan to prepare runners for both races. Standard Chartered card holders will get a 15 per cent discount off both runs.
Registration for both events is now open.
• For more information, visit https://singaporemarathon.com and www.straitstimesrun.com
"At night, though, there will be people everywhere. So if we can move the event to a flag-off time of 6pm and run till midnight and create a big festival around it with music, I think overnight we would be globally iconic and on a par with the likes of New York and London."
Rio Olympian Neo Jie Shi, who ran the 2013 Boston Marathon and 2015 Tokyo Marathon, agreed.
The 31-year-old said: "There were a lot of supporters and volunteers on the road (in Boston and Tokyo), probably because they could afford to start later as the weather was cooler. The crowd support in Singapore is not as strong until the end of the finish line."
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu praised the SCSM as "a good example of the power of sport in bringing people together". "Since 2002, the annual event has drawn together friends, family members and companies as a community, united in their common passion for running and keeping fit."
Standard Chartered Bank, a sponsor of the Singapore race since 2002, supported the WMM bid and renewed its commitment with an $11.4 million, three-year sponsorship till 2019.
The 16th SCSM will have a new apparel sponsor in Under Armour, which will provide the event and finisher T-shirts.
New features will be introduced to enhance participants' experience at the Dec 2-3 event.
One such element is a runners' loyalty programme that will be unveiled in July. Participants who have clocked more than 300km since the 2010 edition will get a customised running T-shirt and a collector's 300km club coin.
This year's race pack, worth over $180, includes new items like a free race-day personal accident plan and an upgraded backpack.
A new route has also been established for the full and half- marathon categories, and runners enjoy new features such as mist tunnels and cooling zones during their race.