Marathon: Singapore 'a great global stage'

The swimming part of an Ironman event in Singapore.
The swimming part of an Ironman event in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

World Marathon Majors GM hails Republic as a city for runners but coy on status chances

Singapore's pedigree as an iconic travel destination has earned high praise from Abbott World Marathon Majors' (WMM) general manager Tim Hadzima, the American lauding the Republic as a "great global stage for runners".

And that can only help the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon's (SCSM) hopes of achieving elite status.

The WMM, an international series featuring the world's largest and most well-known marathons, comprises marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo.

In April, Ironman Asia and WMM signed a 10-year partnership to expand the race calendar from six to nine cities.

Singapore is the only candidate announced so far, with a three-year time frame being set for the SCSM to attain the coveted WMM status.

Hadzima, however, would not be drawn on Singapore's chances of joining the illustrious sextet.

"This is a collaborative process between us, (SCSM organisers) Ironman Asia, and the city of Singapore," he said in a phone interview with The Straits Times yesterday.

"It's not so much about what boxes a city ticks but more about here's what we all need to do to make it happen."

However, he did outline what those boxes were.

"When you look at the six (WMM) events, several traits are consistent across the board. One of them is that they all take place in iconic, global cities," he said.

"Industry-leading operations are another factor, whether in terms of the retail experience or the level and detail of safety precautions.

"Lastly, in each of the top cities, the races take over the city in a very positive way on race day. The whole city comes alive."

He was more forthcoming when asked about his favourite destinations as a runner, although going by his criteria, it is easy to see why Singapore, with its partial coastal route along East Coast Parkway and efficient public transport network, could be considered iconic.

"Taking off my GM hat, there's no better place to run than the Lake Michigan lakefront. I've worked on the Chicago Marathon for 15 years, and my heart will always be here," said Hadzima, who is based in the Windy City.

"Berlin with its incredible cosmopolitan nature and the sense of history is also hard to beat, while for Tokyo it has to be the transportation system and the race-day atmosphere. These are the iconic places."

Ironman Asia has begun to work closely with the WMM team to bring runners "an improved experience similar to that of Majors worldwide", said its managing director Geoff Meyer last night.

The bid to attain WMM status was supported by Standard Chartered Bank, which renewed its race sponsorship till 2019, pledging $11.4 million in funding over the next three years.

The 16th edition of the SCSM will be held in December.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore 'a great global stage''. Print Edition | Subscribe