SINGAPORE - The script has seen little change since 2002, with the elite runners from Kenya dominating once again but, after 16 editions, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) has refined itself into a better organised event than ever before.
Yesterday’s race, sold out to 48,400 participants for the first time, is a quantum leap compared to its first year, when it attracted just 6,000 runners.
From the dogged determination of the elite runners to the joy of weekend warriors who came dressed in costumes to the hustle and bustle at the sponsors’ booths, this year’s event earned the approval of those involved.
Cosmas Kimutai breasted the tape in 2hr 22min 48sec in the men’s marathon to win $50,000 in prize money and preserve Kenya’s stranglehold on the elite men’s title since the race was first introduced.
The men’s record of 2:11:25 was set by Kimutai’s compatriot Luke Kibet in 2009.
Kimutai, 34, believes the SCSM, which has been an International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label race since 2012, is ready to join the Abbott World Marathon Majors ranks. The Majors comprise six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world – Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.
“This (the SCSM) should be a Major. It is a very nice race and we have no problems getting drinks (along the way). My only concern is that it’s a little hot here and the humidity is high,” said Kimutai.
Pamela Rotich, who will celebrate her 33rd birthday on Christmas Day, won the women’s category in 2:38:31 after a late burst to surge past last year’s champion Rebecca Chesir (2:38:48). She also took home $50,000.
Kenya have now won 10 out of the 16 women’s titles in Singapore, with Salina Kosgei setting the course record of 2:31:55 in 2006.
Rotich said: “The course was mostly flat, which was very good. The weather was a factor, but I had prepared well. What I liked most was that there were many fans and other runners cheering for us along the way. It’s a nice feeling to have.”
Yesterday’s marathon was flagged off at 4.30am at Orchard Road by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
The scenic route took participants past the Republic’s iconic landmarks and sights such as the Istana, the Sultan Mosque, Chinatown, Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay and the Esplanade before finishing at the Padang.
The 48,400 participants comprised 126 different nationalities, of whom 48 per cent were non-Singaporeans. It was also the first time that the SCSM had also doubled up as the national championship.
The finishing point at the Padang was transformed into an activity hub, with vendors selling fitness products, various sponsors providing refreshments as well as masseurs relieving aching muscles.
National athlete Rachel See, who won the Singapore women’s title (3:11:08), gave this year’s event the thumbs up.
The 35-year-old said: “I think it’s the atmosphere. It’s the biggest race of the year and every one was geared up. There were sufficient water points and they were very well spread out. And the weather was good.
“It’s very well organised. Towards the end, there was a bit of a bottleneck but it was just a bit, it’s much better than previous years.”
See’s views were echoed by Tan Shao Yong, a 32-year-old dentist who participated in the 10km run.
He said: “The event was very good, considering how large-scale it was. A lot of effort and thought had been put into it. The race pack collection was an efficient process and the queue was manageable.
“During the race itself, it was a bit crowded at the 3km mark (at Marina Barrage) where the 10km runners met the half and full marathon runners but the road blocks meant there was a wider area and the faster runners could make their way out of the crowds.