Ironman MD Meyer: Stanchart Marathon gunning to be premier marathon event

Participants beginning the race at the start of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on Dec 6, 2015.
Participants beginning the race at the start of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on Dec 6, 2015.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) might not be a premier event in the world, but it could soon join the likes of Boston, New York and London marathons.

This belief comes as SCMS will be run by new organisers Ironman Endurance Asia, who won the bid to organise the race for 10 years, starting from this year's edition to 2025.

Singapore's biggest running event is set to grow, as Ironman has a strong financial backing from its parent company, Dalian Wanda Group, China's biggest commercial property developer and an active buyer of global entertainment and sports companies.

Geoff Meyer, managing director of Ironman Asia, told the media on Wednesday: "We have major financial backing. Taking the event to the next level is something we are excited about. We want to make the Singapore marathon to be in the same vein as Boston and London and make this a global icon."

For the first year, their main goal is to raise the stature of the race across the globe, tapping on their wide network of participants of triathlons and Ironman events.

The 47-year-old Australian said: "We have a huge global reach and a loyal following. We have about 75,000 athletes competing in more than 260 events globally. We've got millions of them on our databases and we hope to spread the word about SCMS."

For a start, his team seek to improve the athletes' experiences in this year's edition. Meyer noted that route congestion is of the perennial bugbears runners had faced.

"It worries me that I have encountered runners who said: 'I can't run anymore because I am dodging people everywhere.' We will have these congestion issues alleviated and we need to fix these things. If you want to walk for 21km, you can do that (without any problems)," said Meyer, who did his first triathlon in 1986 and reckons that he has completed about 1,000 marathons. Last year, he done three half Ironman races (in the Philippines, Japan and Australia).

An Ironman comprises 3.8km swim, 180km bike and a full 42km marathon, which would usually take about 17 hours to complete.

There are also plans in the pipeline to put the Ironman brand back on the local sports calendar for the first time since 2013, when Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore Triathlon exited after its six-year run. Also a possibility on the cards is a world-class triathlon event.

Setting up Ironman's Asia headquarters in Singapore will help the business to grow and they will be looking at organising more races in the region, in countries including Sri Lanka and Japan.

Said Meyer, who will be relocating to the Republic with his family, including his two sons, aged nine and 10, by the end of this year: "I have been here in 2012 talking to the government about an Ironman event. I believe that can be run in Singapore, as it's been done here before.

"We're going to expand in Asia as well, we see Singapore as a centralised place to do that. It's not just going to be Ironman races, but half Ironman too. There's a duathlon brand that we'd love to bring it here as well. An ITU (International Triathlon Union) World Cup or World Series would be great for Singapore."

Even though the expectations are high for the event's new organisers, he said that changes will not take place overnight.

"We've got to understand the naunces of this country. We don't want to run the event and be considered a nuisance."

To achieve that, the Singapore office will have about 25 staff, with 22 of them retained from previous SCMS organiser Spectrum Worldwide (SWW).

Meyer said: "We believe in the company (SWW) and their staff, they are good operators and they have understanding of Singapore marathon. It's a big learning curve for us. It's going to be the staff teaching us how SCMS operates and understanding its issues."

He also said that the financial woes which had troubled SWW is in the process of being settled

Following Ironman's acquisition of SWW, they are also in the process of clearing the outstanding debts which the latter owes to vendors.

Meyer said: "It was public knowledge that SWW financially was not in a good position. We acquired debts as well, but we are in the process of paying them. Hopefully once the creditors are paid off by the end of the month, we can start to focus more on organising the race."