Blade runner, uncle to return

"Blade Runner" Shariff Abdullah's training has been affected by the haze, while Singapore's oldest marathoner Chan Meng Hui, 85, said work commitments have hampered his training.
"Blade Runner" Shariff Abdullah's training has been affected by the haze, while Singapore's oldest marathoner Chan Meng Hui, 85, said work commitments have hampered his training.ST PHOTO: MATTHEW MOHAN

Duo unfazed by haze that is blamed for fall in number of entries for StanChart Marathon

Registration numbers for this year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) have taken a slight dip because of the recent hazy spell, but an octogenarian and a blade runner were among those who refused to be beaten by the smog.

In fact, it was business as usual for 47-year-old "Blade Runner" Shariff Abdullah and Singapore's oldest marathoner Chan Meng Hui, who is affectionately known as "Uncle Chan".

Said Shariff: "Training for the race has honestly been a bit tough.

"But, (regardless of) good or bad weather, we'll still have to train."

This will be Chan's 101st marathon and although the self-employed man has spent less time training this year, it is because of work commitments and not the haze.

The 85-year-old, who finished in 81/2 hours last year, aims to complete the marathon this time round too: "I've been running for so many years so I'll take it easy. I'll let the fast runners go. My challenge will be against myself."

Speaking to The Straits Times at a media briefing for the Dec 5-6 event, Chris Robb, managing director of race organiser Spectrum Worldwide, said the small drop in numbers is "understandable".

He added: "We think we're getting back on track. We're at the stage where we're getting a couple of hundred entries per day and that's going to bring us fairly close to 50,000."

To date, an estimated 47,000 have signed up, with registration extended till Nov 30. Last year, the event had close to 53,000 racers.

Robb said: "It's been harder for the participants than for us. These people aspire to run the marathon and have to train indoors, train in shopping malls - it's been a huge challenge for them.

"I think their achievement this year is going to be even more than it has been in previous years, with (this being) one of the additional challenges that they've overcome."

Robb, however, remained optimistic that it is "highly likely" that the 21.1km and 10km races would be sold out.

Turning to concerns about security in light of the recent Paris terror attacks, he gave this assurance: "Security has been a priority for many years. We take the safety of not only participants but all other stakeholders in the event very seriously.

"We are working with the authorities to make any necessary enhancements in the lead-up to the event."

But the show will still go on, with this year's race seeing 19 entertainment acts perform along the marathon route, as well as a carnival after the Kids Dash event on Dec 5.

Robb said: "The style of entertainment chosen is very upbeat and visually pleasing. Hopefully it creates a great atmosphere, not only at the start line but also at the finish line."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'Blade runner, uncle to return'. Print Edition | Subscribe