Athletics: Big names but top times not likely

Clockwise from left: Ashley Liew crossing the finishing line in eighth spot in last year's SEA Games marathon. 2013 SEA Games marathon champion Mok Ying Ren has scaled down his training from twice to once a day owing to work and is using the SCMS to
Ashley Liew crossing the finishing line in eighth spot in last year's SEA Games marathon.ST FILE PHOTOS
Clockwise from left: Ashley Liew crossing the finishing line in eighth spot in last year's SEA Games marathon. 2013 SEA Games marathon champion Mok Ying Ren has scaled down his training from twice to once a day owing to work and is using the SCMS to
Rio Olympian Neo Jie Shi has reverted to her regular training regimen since returning from the Games but is not in top shape.ST FILE PHOTOS
Clockwise from left: Ashley Liew crossing the finishing line in eighth spot in last year's SEA Games marathon. 2013 SEA Games marathon champion Mok Ying Ren has scaled down his training from twice to once a day owing to work and is using the SCMS to
2013 SEA Games marathon champion Mok Ying Ren has scaled down his training from twice to once a day owing to work and is using the SCMS to prepare for the 2017 Games. ST FILE PHOTOS

Liew & Mok busy with work, Soh has made it to SEA Games while Neo is not in best form

Some of Singapore's top marathoners will be coming out to run in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), the country's premier marathon, on Sunday.

But do not expect record-breaking times from them, for most of them will be taking it easy for the 42.195km race.

Ashley Liew, who represented the Republic in the past two SEA Games marathons, is attempting to qualify again for next August's Games - although not at the SCMS this weekend.

"I've got the Tokyo marathon next year in February. This weekend, I just want to run the course," said the 29-year-old, who was the top local male finisher the last time he ran in the event in 2012.

Liew - who was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy last month for his sporting gesture in slowing down and guiding rivals who had taken a wrong turn at last year's SEA Games - had missed the last three editions because he was pursuing his post-graduate studies at Sherman College of Chiropractic in the United States.

Since returning to Singapore from South Carolina earlier this month, he has fixed his training runs around his working schedule.

He said: "In the US, it was a lot harder to run in the hours before and after daylight because the routes were pitch-black and some pavements have overgrown weeds.

"The beauty about running in Singapore is that you can easily do it late at nights or after knocking off from work. These are things we often take for granted.

"I've a lot of memories at the SCMS. It was where I ran my first marathon in 2004, to winning the local title in 2012. I started from a nobody to winning it and it's humbling to think about it."

While he has kept up his training regimen, last year's top local finisher Mok Ying Ren has scaled down his runs from twice a day to once.

The 28-year-old who is a first-year resident in orthopaedic surgery at the National University Hospital, runs 12km as a form of his after-work commute to Marymount. He has to overcome his tiredness on Sunday as he will be working on Saturday.

Said the 2013 SEA Games marathon champion: "Running has taken a back seat as I adjust back to working and my focus is more on my work. But (the SCMS) is part of my training as I prepare for the SEA Games."

Neo Jie Shi, who took part in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics marathon, will be returning to race in the SCMS for the 10th consecutive year, and it will be her first marathon since the August Games.

Last year's edition was where she qualified for the Olympics after finishing 10th - and the top female local runner - in the women's Open category.

Said Neo, 31: "This race is especially meaningful to me also because it was where I first started running the marathon. Of course I want to do well this year again, but I don't want to set a high expectation for myself because I did not spend a lot of time building up for this."

While the trio will be pounding the roads with about 50,000 other SCMS participants on Sunday, last year's SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong has decided to give it a miss, after meeting the qualifying mark for the SEA Games last month.

Said the 25-year-old: "I've got to be smart in choosing which races to do because a marathon takes a lot out of a runner. Racing too many marathons can lead to injury and stagnation.

"At this point of time, my main focus is on continuing to win medals at major competitions and improving my personal best, rather than running races just for the money."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Big names but top times not likely'. Print Edition | Subscribe