The first Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon to double up as the National Championships race will have a marquee name in the men's line-up, following Soh Rui Yong's announcement that he is set to join the fray.
The SEA Games marathon champion's entry in the elite men's open category will come as a timely boost following rival Mok Ying Ren's decision to give this year's edition a miss. Mok, who has been the fastest Singaporean at the SCSM seven times, is busy with his year-end wedding preparations.
The SCSM is doubling up as the official National Championships race this year, following a tie-up between Singapore Athletics (SA) and race organiser Ironman Asia in July.
Soh's decision to take part in his first SCSM was influenced by SA president Ho Mun Cheong, who wrote to him after the KL SEA Games asking if the 26-year-old would support the National Championships.
"Ho said it would greatly help the association and fraternity (to) market the sport if the SEA Games champion is in the National Championships," said Soh, who retained his SEA Games title in August with a time of 2hr 29min 3sec.
"He has been supportive of my push to win gold this year and I wish to support him in return."
He had given last year's edition a miss, citing the fact that he had already qualified for the SEA Games.
He had also previously been based in the United States, where he was studying business at the University of Oregon.
Few would bet against Soh taking top honours on Dec 3, as his personal best of 2:24:55 is faster by some way than those of other leading local contenders like Ashley Liew (2:32:12) or Evan Chee (2:42:18).
For the SCSM, he is targeting a sub 2:34:00 finish, something no Singaporean has accomplished on home ground before.
"It won't be easy as I have zero experience with StanChart, while others have done this race every year," he said. "But it's fine - I'll just focus on the process of getting fit, running a good race and the result should take care of itself."
Registration for the SCSM is still open. Those interested can sign up at singaporemarathon.com