Jam-packed start at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore?

Participants in last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore beginning their races at the starting point along Orchard Road.
Participants in last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore beginning their races at the starting point along Orchard Road.ST FILE PHOTO

Both the half and full marathon runners will start their races on Orchard Road

While it will be a cooler experience for the 21.1km participants at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), some who have signed up for that category are already anticipating that they could get hot under the collar.

They will start their races at 4.30am on Dec 4 alongside their full marathon counterparts under the Christmas lights on Orchard Road. Last year, the half-marathon flagged off at 6.30am at Sentosa Gateway.

All races, including the 10km run, will finish at the Padang, unchanged from last year's edition.

By introducing the earlier start time for the half marathon, race organisers hope to allow more participants to run in cooler and more forgiving conditions instead of the sweltering heat.

Said Wang Zilong, a 27-year-old quantity surveyor who took part in the 21.1km race last year: "It was so hot towards the end of the race. The heat was too much for me and I struggled. So it's good news to know that they have shifted the starting time earlier."

But the perennial bugbear of route congestion could rear its head again for the 15th edition of the event. The SCMS is Singapore's largest running event, attracting about 50,000 participants annually.

Both the 21.1km and 42.195km runners will share the same 12km stretch from Orchard Road to East Coast Park. There, they will split, with the full marathoners continuing along East Coast Park.

Those on the shorter route will run towards Fort Road, passing the Merdeka Bridge via Mountbatten Road before hitting the Singapore Flyer.

Both groups will then reunite at Fort Road - the 33km mark of the full marathon - for the last leg of their races. However, they will run in separate lanes in a bid to ease congestion along the route.

Sharon Tan, 27, a regular distance runner, is not too optimistic about the traffic flow improving.

The teacher said: "I think there will definitely be congestion. The full marathon is already so crowded at the starting line, so you can imagine there will be twice the crowd there this year.

"Maybe the elite runners will not be too affected. But for the rest of us, we have to face congested areas along the route, especially when it merges towards the end, again."

New SCMS organiser Ironman Asia said the changes were made after gathering feedback from the running fraternity.

Other changes to the race experience include two new "cooling zones" with spray mists, longer stretches of water points for hydration and room for overtaking, plus added lanes facilitated by full road closures.

Geoff Meyer, managing director of Ironman Asia, said: "When planning the race, we took a holistic and consultative approach, analysing feedback from runners and re-looking the experience from the very moment participants arrive.

"We're confident that the new route and upgrades will give runners a smoother and better experience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Jam-packed start at SCMS?'. Print Edition | Subscribe