Singapore can be a great global stage for running, says World Marathon Majors GM

The flag off for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 at Orchard Road.
The flag off for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 at Orchard Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's pedigree as an iconic travel destination can only help the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon's (SCSM) hopes of becoming an Abbott World Marathon Major (WMM), with the organisation's general manager Tim Hadzima lauding the Republic as a potential "great global stage for runners".

"When you look at the six (WMM) events, several traits are consistent across the board. One of them is that they all take place in iconic, global cities," said Hadzima in a phone interview with The Straits Times on Thursday (July 13).

"Industry-leading operations are another factor, whether in terms of the retail experience or the level and detail of safety precautions.

"Lastly, in each of the top cities, the races take over the city in a very positive way on race day. The whole city comes alive."

The WMM, an international series featuring the largest and most well-known marathons in the world, comprises marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, and Tokyo.

Hadzima, however, would not be drawn on the Lion City's chances of joining the illustrious sextet of cities.

"This is a collaborative process between us, Ironman, and the city of Singapore," he said.

"It's not so much about what boxes a city ticks but more about here's what we all need to do to make it happen."

Back in April, SCSM organiser Ironman Asia and WMM signed a 10-year partnership to expand the race calendar from six to nine cities. Singapore is the only candidate announced so far, with Ironman Asia setting a three-year time frame for the SCSM to attain the coveted WMM status.

The bid was supported by Standard Chartered Bank, which renewed its race sponsorship till 2019, pledging $11.4 million in funding over the next three years.

"(We have) been sponsoring the marathon since 2002, and witnessed how the event has shaped the popularity of running as a sport in Singapore. We are very proud to support SCSM's bid to be part of the prestigious WMM series," said Judy Hsu, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Singapore.

Ironman Asia has also begun to work closely with the WMM team to bring runners "an improved experience similar to that of Majors worldwide", said its managing director Geoff Meyer.

The process will likely be similar to the experience of the organisers of the Tokyo Marathon, which shadowed the WMM team at its various events to learn what it took to be a Major before earning the WMM's stamp of approval in 2007.

Hadzima was more forthcoming when asked about his favourite destinations as a runner among the Majors.

"Personally, there's no better place than the Lake Michigan lakefront. I've worked on the Chicago Marathon for 15 years, and my heart will always be here," said Hadzima, who is based in Chicago.

"Berlin, with its incredible cosmopolitan nature and the sense of history, is also hard to beat, while for Tokyo it has to be the transportation system and the race day atmosphere."

But he acknowledged that there is room for the WMM's global profile to grow.

"Formula One is the pinnacle of a truly global series, and we absolutely want to get to that point," he said. "That's why we're working hard to get into the spots where we're not in yet. The growth in running worldwide is incredible and we're very happy to be part of it."