Singapore Marathon organiser Ironman says it can do better


Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon organiser Ironman Asia said the overall response from stakeholders to the race's first evening flag-off has been positive.
Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon organiser Ironman Asia said the overall response from stakeholders to the race's first evening flag-off has been positive.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Marathon organiser sorry for woes but says return to morning start is 'last thing we want'

Ironman Asia, organiser of last week's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), has acknowledged it "could have done better" with certain aspects of its handling of this year's event, but added overall response from stakeholders to the race's first evening flag-off has been positive.

This comes on the back of flak the annual event has received from those affected by road closures in the downtown city area.

Some motorists claimed they were stuck on the roads for over two hours, while couples holding wedding banquets in town also encountered problems, with guests and vendors unable to make the functions in time.

Ironman managing director Geoff Meyer told The Straits Times yesterday: "This is our first year of holding it in the evening and there were issues, but overall, the feedback has been positive.

"We apologise for the (traffic in the) Sentosa-Vivocity area... That was not done as well as it could have been, and we could have done better with small changes.

"Can we do better? Always, we can."

Motorists attempting to leave Sentosa last Saturday night - when the main marathon took place - were reportedly stuck in a jam for as long as 90 minutes.

The 42.195km race, which usually flags off before dawn, started at 6pm this year in a shift Ironman hopes will up its chances of being listed among the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of the world's most prestigious marathons.

When asked if next year's race could be moved back to the morning, Meyer said it would be a "whole-of-government decision" but added: "In our opinion, it'd be the last thing we want to do."

Ironman and national agency Sport Singapore had announced road closures for this year's race on Nov 12, 21/2 weeks before the Nov 29-Dec 1 SCSM. When road closures started from 1pm on Saturday, they assured that routes to emergency and essential services such as hospitals would remain accessible, and encouraged those travelling into the downtown area to use the MRT.

They also advised those who wished to drive into the area to rely on apps like Google Maps or Waze for real-time traffic updates, while a list of alternative routes was put up on the official website.

Some of the road closures were lifted on the night of the marathon - Nicoll Highway was the earliest to reopen at 9pm - and normal traffic activity resumed around noon on Sunday.

Organisers revealed then that they had engaged over 250 stakeholders, including hotels and shopping malls, in the downtown city area before coming up with the plans for road closures.

The area was particularly crowded on the weekend of the race because of an unprecedented convergence of three other events along with the SCSM: a concert by Irish rockers U2, the C3 Anime Festival Asia and Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay.

James Walton, head of Deloitte South-east Asia's sports business group, said earning Major status would make Singapore a must for runners hoping to complete the whole series. Currently, only 3,644 people have completed all six Majors - Berlin, Chicago, New York City, Tokyo, Boston and London.

This would add to the appeal of the SCSM, which is not ideal for runners targeting a good time, owing to Singapore's hot and humid climate.

Walton, who has run 23 consecutive London Marathons, said of the road closures: "Everyone is used to the road closures we have for Formula One (the Singapore Grand Prix), but I don't think many Singaporeans expected this.

"It was very awkward timing this weekend and this meant there was a short supply of taxis and Grab (private-hire cars).

"To some extent, this is the price we have to pay for hosting world-class sporting events... there is that element of inconvenience, (although) for the many thousands of Singaporeans out there running and for their family members and friends... they would probably say it was worth it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'Ironman says it can do better'. Print Edition | Subscribe