Standard Chartered Marathon draws early birds

Over 2,500 slots taken up at launch; security at Dec 1 race to be enhanced

There were no Hello Kitty toys on offer, neither were there any N95 masks for sale. But Raymond Tan still made it his mission to be first in line - even if it meant that he would have to queue for more than 24 hours.

His goal: to be among the early birds for this year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore launch so he could sign up his team of colleagues.

Tan was glad he made the effort. All 300 slots for the Ekiden (relay) category of the Dec 1 race, which he was eyeing, were taken up in 40 minutes.

Said the 41-year-old, who took two days of leave from his job in the operations department at Jurong Port: "I aimed to be the first in line as in previous years the slots to the Ekiden sold out really fast. I did not want to disappoint my colleagues as I am the one who encouraged them to join in this event together."

He was in line at the Waterfront Promenade @ Marina Bay from 8.30am on Wednesday, well ahead of yesterday's 11am launch.

By Wednesday night, more than 20 other running enthusiasts had joined him, eager to be the first in town to fill up this year's 62,000 slots, up from 60,000 last year.

More than 2,500 slots found takers at yesterday's launch.

The first 300 in line received a Seiko timer alarm clock while the next 500 got a limited-edition gym bag - in addition to their race goodie bag.

Online registration for the race, which won the Best Local Event of the Year 2012 at the Singapore Sports Awards, opened at 6pm yesterday.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, guest of honour at yesterday's launch, is hoping to feature in this year's race.

Said Mr Wong, who turns 40 this year: "I've done three (marathons) in my lifetime. I'm not sure if I can do another one at this age, at this particular level of physical conditioning, but I'll see what I can do this year."

Chief executive of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), Lim Teck Yin, said that in the light of the Boston Marathon bombings in April, security will be stepped up at the start and end points.

SSC is also reviewing the need for a bag deposit area.

It has pledged $2 from every race entry to SportsCares, a new philanthropic organisation which aims to use sports for social good.

This year's edition marks the end of Standard Chartered Bank's (SCB) $9.75 million, three-year sponsorship deal.

Officials were tight-lipped on whether there will be a renewal and it is believed that negotiations have not started.

Said Ray Ferguson, chief executive of Stanchart Singapore: "We have been behind this since 2002 and this is the 12th year. This race is synonymous with the SCB.

"We've got a great association with it. We are very pleased with our partnership with the SSC and we will continue to discuss it."

The SSC, however, is likely to announce the winner of a tender - to outsource future editions of the marathon - soon.

Three companies - Enterprise Sports Group, HiVelocity and Spectrum Worldwide - are vying to take over the rights of the race.

The contract is believed to be for four years.