Rainy start but StanChart S’pore Marathon returns with tens of thousands hitting streets

Participants seen at the start of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on Dec 4, 2022. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Patricipants from the half-marathon catergory crossing the finish line during the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A heavy downpour delayed the start of the 2022 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon’s (SCSM) half- and full-marathons by an hour on Sunday.

Still, tens of thousands of runners remained in high spirits as the event returned in its full format for the first time since 2019.

A light drizzle 10 minutes before the original 4.30am flag-off got progressively heavier, forcing organisers to push the start back by an hour. It was relief for runners who cheered when the emcees finally announced that the races would flag off at 5.30am.

Financial planner Lee Aik Ling, 42, initially feared that the race would be cancelled owing to inclement weather, but was glad she got the chance to participate in the 42.195km race again.

She first took part in the SCSM over a decade ago and had gone for it every year until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. While she had tried to organise 42km runs with her friends, it was not the same as running in mass participation events.

She said: “I really missed it – the crowd and the adrenaline – when everyone runs together.”

The 2022 SCSM saw close to 40,000 runners across four race categories – 5km, 10km, 21.1km and marathon – hit the streets in the Marina Bay area. The number was a 20 per cent dip from the 2019 edition, which had over 50,000 participants, and organisers said that this year’s race has been focused on recovery and that they believe that “interest will continue to grow as we build on this momentum”.

The SCSM was held virtually in 2020 and returned in a hybrid format in 2021, with the half- and full-marathons offered only in a virtual format as part of the SCSM’s Virtual Race Grand Finale.

While the 2022 race did not have a dedicated Gold Label International elite race, which features some of the world’s top long-distance runners, the events were dominated by Kenyans.

Kenya’s Ezekiel Omullo won the men’s marathon in 2hr 20 min 20sec, ahead of compatriots Anderson Seroi (2:20:21) and Paul Eyanae (2:20:22).

Kenya’s Ezekiel Omullo wins the men’s marathon category. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It was similarly an all-Kenyan podium finish in the women’s race. Esther Macharia won in 2:45:09, ahead of Peninah Kigen (2:47:06) and Edinah Mutahi (2:47:09).

Having strong competitors is something that Vanessa Lee, 24, who completed the half-marathon, enjoys the most about events like the SCSM.

“When we’re able to hold such an event with the Kenyans and international runners coming down, it’s amazing that we’re all here for this one big event in Singapore and have been preparing for it for a significant amount of time,” said Lee, an executive in the marketing industry.

“When you’re running alone as compared to running with someone, you’re willing to push yourself because of that competitiveness between each other.”

The camaraderie among runners and volunteers was something that stood out for workplace safety and health officer Nazrul Islam, 38, a first-time SCSM participant, as people holding up signs of encouragement were present along the route.

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Nazrul completed his first marathon in December 2021 with a handful of colleagues and he decided to challenge himself by signing up for the SCSM.

He said: “It’s a very different experience (as compared to his first 42km), there were a lot of volunteers along the way, drinks and facilities. I enjoyed it because there are a lot of people cheering us on and it gives us motivation.”

Among the 5,000 international participants were Bollywood actor Milind Soman, 57, and his wife Ankita Konwar, 31, who flew in from India just to take part in the 5km and half-marathon races.

While Soman and Konwar are avid runners now, the former used to despise the sport when he was younger.

But that changed when the Mumbai Marathon was established in 2004.

Konwar, on the other hand, began running about six to seven years ago when her usual gym was closed.

On taking part in the SCSM, Konwar, a flight attendant, said: “It was an absolutely amazing, incredible experience.

“Singapore is so neat and clean and well organised – when it comes to water stations, everything is perfectly done.”

  • Additional reporting by Ervin Ang

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