Athletics: Call to be part of the Singapore Marathon

Participants starting their run after the flag off during the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018.
Participants starting their run after the flag off during the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Clarion call for masses to support runners and join in festivities along route on Nov 30

Organisers of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) are hoping an almost year-long engagement with stakeholders will see minimal disruption for those affected by the race as they prepare for the first evening edition of the annual event.

Ironman Asia announced the road closures, as well as the line-up of events for spectators, at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday.

Unlike the previous editions when the marathon began before dawn - last year's start time was 4.30am - this year's 42.195km marathon, half-marathon and Ekiden relay will flag off at 6.05pm at the F1 Pit Building on Nov 30.

The shift is part of the effort to fulfil various criteria in the organisers' bid to get the SCSM listed among the Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM), a series of the most prestigious marathons in the world.

None of the six WMM races - Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo - are held at night.

Road closures will begin from 1pm on race day, starting at the Marina Centre zone, with the organisers assuring that routes to emergency and essential services such as hospitals will remain accessible.

Some of the road closures will be lifted that night - Nicoll Highway will be the earliest to reopen at 9pm - and normal traffic activity will resume by 12.15pm the next day, after the 5km and 10km races.

The organisers encourage people to use the MRT and those who wish to drive into the area should rely on apps like Google Maps or Waze for navigation. The full list of road closures can also be found at singaporemarathon.com/roadclosure.

Despite the logistical challenges of the evening flag-off, Ironman Asia managing director, Geoff Meyer, hopes people will gather along the race route instead of avoiding the event.

 
 

"The message that we want to get out there is, 'Please come and be a part of it'," he said.

"You don't have to run. Just come and be part of the spectator zones, cheer on the athletes, and show the world what Singapore can do."

Shang Kok Keong, head of events at the Singapore Sports Institute, expects better business for retailers in the vicinity of the route.

He said: "Shoppers can still access these places (because) it's not like Formula One where some of the major shopping areas are affected.

"Having the marathon will see more footfall with more crowds and spectators coming out to partake in the festivities... more people will be out shopping."

The organisers' event operations manager Shaun Nik, who led conversations with stakeholders affected by the race since the start of the year, said responses from retailers had been encouraging.

He added: "Sofitel is a hotel that will experience some inconvenience during the marathon, but it said, 'Hey, can we put up more chairs outside the restaurant we have, to do al fresco dining to get the patrons to be part of this whole event?'"

This initiative by retailers to involve themselves in the race experience, said Meyer, will grow over time.

He pointed to how established marathons like London and New York often have eateries and pubs along the route that put on their own entertainment acts, livening the atmosphere and resulting in the doubling of the 26 entertainment acts required by WMM.

This year's SCSM will see three dedicated spectator zones - The Promontory, Empress Lawn and The Float (finish line) - offering a plethora of entertainment, food and beverage, and recreational options for spectators on race day. These include live bands, games for the family, and an LED Lion Dance performance.

With more than a week before the Nov 22 registration deadline, the participation figure for all categories is nearing last year's total of 48,725, and looks set to surpass the target of 50,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Come and be part of Singapore Marathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe