Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon: Kenyans monopolise podium positions but all enjoy morning out

Winners of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon women's and men's category respectively, Priscah Cherono and Joshua Kipkorir. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Kenyan’s Priscah Cherono wins the women’s category with a time of 2:32:12. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Kenya’s Joshua Kipkorir won with a time of 2:12:20. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Flag-off for elite marathon runners. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Some ran in superhero costumes in the sweltering heat, some ran to raise money for charity, some wanted to beat the clock and some, well, just love running.
Regardless of their reason, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), held on Sunday (Dec 9) against the backdrop of the city's waterfront, remains a colourful and vibrant fixture on the Republic's sporting calendar.

For the fourth edition running, Kenyans swept both the men's and women's elite categories as some 30,000 participants pounded the streets in the downtown area. The two-day event saw 50,000 participants in total.

Joshua Kipkorir won the men's race in 2hr 12min 20sec, while Priscah Cherono was the first woman to push past the tape after taking 2:32:12 to complete the 42.195km course - both just missed the championship records.

Such is the East African nation's grip on this event that Kenya swept all the podium places for both categories, with Felix Kirwa (2:13:43) and Andrew Kimtai (2:14:30) taking the silver and bronze medals respectively in the men's race, while Stella Barsosio (2:33:23) and Jane Jelagat (2:35:38) did likewise in the women's.

Kipkorir and Cherono both speak halting English but there was no denying their joy in winning that US$50,000 (S$68,000) cash booty. The top prize nearly doubled Kipkorir's career earnings of US$65,375.

"This is my first time here. I like the course, it's very nice. I have no problems with the heat," Kipkorir, 24, said.

Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong cheers as he crosses the finish line of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Cherono, 38, added: "I was worried about the weather on Sunday because it was not so good (it rained overnight on Saturday) but today, the conditions were good."

In winning the men's race, Kipkorir upset the top names in the field, with favourite Paul Lonyangata, the winner of the last two Paris Marathons, not even placed in the top 20. By the halfway mark, Kipkorir had already opened up a 300m gap on the chasing pack and it was a lead he never relinquished.

While the Kenyans tasted success, the SCSM also hoped that the success of Sunday's event would convince assessors from the World Marathon Majors series to allow the Singapore race to join that exclusive club alongside the Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo Marathons.

While last year's marathon route started at Orchard Road and took participants on a scenic tour of heritage areas such as Little India, Arab Street and Chinatown, this year's course took runners from the F1 Pit Building through the Central Business District to places such as West Coast Highway, Marina Barrage and East Coast Park before ending at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Avid runner Tan Kwang Yu, 25, ran the 21km race for the last two editions and he also completed the full marathon in 2013 and 2014.

He believes this year's route is "more refreshing" and gave it the thumbs-up, saying: "The paths were clear and there were lots of hydration points on route. There were a few elevations along the highway that might have been a bit challenging to less experienced runners, but this gives the race a bit of excitement."

Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong emerged the top local finisher for the second straight year, clocking 2:41:49, ahead of Mohamed Iskandar (2:49:46) and Giebert Foo Xiao Wen (2:54:14).

Lim Baoying was the top local female finisher in 3:16:36, ahead of Rachel See (3:18:36) and Hu Xiuying (3:18:57).

A new feature this year was the inclusion of the men and women's elite wheelchair marathon, won by Japan's Kota Hokonuie (1:35:36) and China's Rio Paralympic champion Zou Lihong (1:46:48) respectively.

Singaporean Banjamin Quek, the third local finisher in the half-marathon (1:22:21), enjoyed the route, calling it "good but tough".

However, he found himself stuck in a mass of bodies as he left the event.

The 26-year-old said: "The management of the human traffic was bad. We needed to cross the running route in order to get to the public transport and this caused congestion and inconvenience for runners who were trying to return home. There was also a long queue and bottleneck to cross over to where the train stations are.

"However, I must applaud the prompt medical attention taken by the medical personnel. I was attended to immediately when I wasn't feeling well after crossing the finishing line."

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