Having declared its intention to transform the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) into an iconic global event, first-time organisers Ironman Endurance Asia is proving that it is not afraid to ring the changes.
Yesterday, at a launch event for this year's race, to be held on Dec 3 and 4, Ironman Endurance Asia managing director Geoff Meyer unveiled several route changes aimed at enhancing runners' experience.
Both the full and half marathons will now start at Orchard Road. Previously, half-marathon runners started at Sentosa Gateway. Both races will still end at the Padang.
The Kids Dash has also been moved to Orchard Road and will be held on Dec 3.
Meyer said the decision was taken after consolidating feedback from social media and surveys, which threw up two perennial issues - congestion and the sweltering Singapore heat.
Half-marathon runners, he said, had complained about a tunnel they had to run through, as well as a long unsheltered stretch on the highway.
"It's all about making sure the athlete experience is the best. If you get that right, athletes are going to return," said Meyer.
The start time of both races will be unveiled at a later date, but Meyer said the half marathon might start earlier so that runners "are not in the heat that much". Last year's half marathon started at 6.30am.
Meyer added that Ironman will tap on its global network to both promote the marathon and secure a good pool of elite runners, but said the latter will be difficult as top athletes might be winding down after August's Olympics.
This year marks the 15th edition of the SCMS and organisers have set aside 52,000 spots for its five categories, namely the marathon, half marathon, Ekiden, 10km and Kids Dash.
An exhibition featuring running jerseys and finishers' medals from previous years has also been set up at the Cathay Atrium.
Anniversary T-shirts and race entry slots will be given away at the exhibition through activities and lucky draws. The exhibition ends on Sunday.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who attended yesterday's launch event, encouraged Singaporeans to sign up for the race.
Minister Tan said he believed mass participation activities like SCMS can "bring the community together (and build) strong community ties".
Ironman Endurance Asia won a tender to organise the SCMS for the next 10 years last month, having submitted a joint-bid with previous organisers Spectrum Worldwide (SWW).
It subsequently acquired SWW, inheriting their outstanding debts at the same time.
Meyer said more than 80 per cent of "the significant amount of debt" has been settled, but stressed the marathon's budget, "a completely separate fund", will not be affected.
Ironman is owned by World Triathlon Corporation, which was acquired by the Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property company, last year.
Runners can sign up for the race at www.marathonsingapore.com