Three years after taking the plunge into marathon running, two-time SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong will finally race at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) tomorrow and he hopes to break a longstanding record on his debut.
Soh, who won the regional title at the 2015 and 2017 Games, signalled his intention to be the fastest Singaporean to race in the Republic at a SCSM press conference yesterday morning at Marina Bay Sands.
The quickest time clocked by a Singaporean in a marathon here is by M. Rameshon, who timed 2:34:02 at the 1994 Singapore International Marathon. He also holds the national record of 2:24:22 set at the 1995 SEA Games, which is recognised by Singapore Athletics.
Soh's personal best is 2:24:55 set at the 2016 Chicago Marathon.
But the 16th edition of the SCSM, which also doubles up as the national championship for the first time, will be contested in the hot and humid conditions of Singapore.
The 26-year-old believes that if race conditions are right, he can make a bid for the record.
He said: "I had decided to run (in this year's SCSM) only a couple of weeks ago. Before the SEA Games, I was averaging 160-170km a week. Since then, I have been doing 120-140km a week.
"I need to be a bit more conservative but, if I can execute a smart race, good things might happen."
This year's marathon route will take runners from the Orchard Road start point to landmarks such as the Istana, the Sultan Mosque, Chinatown, the Marina Bay area before ending at the Padang.
And for the first time, all 12,500 marathon slots have been taken up.
The entire event - which also includes the 21km, 10km, Ekiden and Kids Dash categories - has attracted a total of 48,400 runners comprising 126 nationalities.
Soh is running in his first SCSM owing to his study commitments. He credited his overseas stint for moulding him into the athlete he is today.
He said: "I ran my first marathon only in December 2014. I was overseas pursuing my degree (in business administration at the University of Oregon) and doing my exams (in 2015). Last year, I was focused on training for the SEA Games. But this year, I am in town.
"Eugene, Oregon, is like the Hollywood of running. You bump into Olympians in school and in cafes.
"You are exposed to a higher level of distance running. I learnt that sometimes, you have to take risks.
"Sometimes, I am pushing 180km per week (during training). I work from 9am to 6pm but I fit in runs before and after work."
Soh, who won his two SEA Games golds after stalking the race leader and pouncing with late bursts, added: "My first priority is to win. It is ambitious to shoot for a time goal.
"The first half (of the marathon) will be a controlled run.
"It depends on the pack around me if they want to race fast. But, if I am within striking distance, I will go for it (the record).
"Chasing records is always fun. This is what makes races more memorable."