SINGAPORE - The 2021 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) will feature in-person races again, after it adopted a virtual format last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year's event will take on a hybrid format, with a Virtual Race (VR) Grand Finale that will take place from Dec 1 to 12, and an in-person Grand Finale from Dec 4 to 5 at The Float @ Marina Bay.
The return of in-person racing marks yet another step in Singapore's reopening amid the pandemic.
Earlier on Wednesday (Nov 3), it was revealed that the Republic would stage a prestigious table tennis tournament organised by World Table Tennis, which would see the world's top players, including China's Olympic champions Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng, grace the OCBC Arena.
Other sports events set to be staged here are the Dec 5 to Jan 1 Suzuki Cup football tournament, with golf's Asian Tour also having two events pencilled in for January next year.
SCSM organisers made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, as registration for the events opened at 4pm on the same day.
The number of in-person participants over the two days will be capped at 4,000. They must all be fully vaccinated or own a valid negative pre-event test result for the duration of the event - and they will be spread out over four sessions of 1,000 people each.
The two sessions on Dec 4 are the Toyota Ekiden (team of four), from 6am to 1pm, and the 5km event, from 4pm to 9pm.
The following day, the 10km event will be held across two sessions, from 6am to 11.30am and from 4pm to 9.30pm.
Runners in each session will be further split into different groups and flagged off in waves of 50 runners, with three runners moving off every 10 seconds.
This, organisers said, may be adjusted to align with prevailing Covid-19 safe management measures and guidelines. Unlike previous editions of the SCSM, there will be no road closures this year.
Those opting for the VR options can choose from more race categories, namely the 5km, 10km, Half Marathon, Kids 1.5km and Kids 3km.
The SCSM typically attracts close to 50,000 runners annually.
It is the nation's largest mass participation sports event, and in 2019 - the last time it was held in the physical format prior to the arrival of the pandemic - the event saw 70,000 spectators line local streets to cheer participants on.
Last year, the SCSM took on a hybrid race format incorporating a virtual race and augmented reality. The latter allowed participants to run on a treadmill to complete their races, and create avatars and see themselves competing with fellow runners in real time. This edition attracted 12,000 entrants.
Mr Jeff Edwards, managing director of Asia for SCSM organisers The Ironman Group said that the hybrid format was adopted "as the uncertainty of the pandemic has continued", and this format allows them to prioritise the health and well-being of all involved with the event.
"As proven in 2020, creating a unique hybrid event that provides runners with elements of an in-person race they can be proud of, is still possible," he said.
"We hope that the physical attendance and the thousands running virtually will inspire the community at large to put on their running shoes and challenge themselves on routes which are theirs to run to celebrate the resilience of Singapore."
Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive of national agency Sport Singapore said he was encouraged by positive feedback from the event in last year's format.
He said: "We remain committed to bringing sport back safely and hope to see more individuals develop an interest in the sport, and further grow our local running community."
Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Keith Tan said he was glad this year's event will give runners an opportunity to run in an in-person event safely, while allowing more local and international runners to be part of SCSM virtually.
"We hope that this event will help keep Singapore top of mind among the global running community and inspire them to experience Singapore in person soon."
What you need to know
To sign up, go to this website.
Toyota Ekiden (team of four): 6am to 1pm
5km race: 4pm to 9pm
- 1st session (6am to 11.30am)
- 2nd session (4pm to 9.30pm)
Note: All in-person participants must be fully vaccinated or own a valid negative pre-event test result for the duration of the event. They will each receive a medal and a T-shirt. A maximum of 4,000 slots are up for grabs.