Sundown Marathon participants cheer staggered race starts

Race participants yesterday hailed the organisers' decision to stage the Sundown Marathon over two nights this year.

The 10km and half-marathon legs were held on Friday night, while the full marathon was staged on Saturday night. In total, 30,000 runners took part over the two nights, with the marathon attracting nearly 10,000.

Robson Phan, 45, who has taken part in all six editions of the annual event, said: "I like how they broke the event up into two separate days.

"It was a lot less congested at the starting point and I think it's a good decision by the organisers."

Italian Francesca Sist, 39, who won the women's 42.195km race, added: "There were many hydration points along the way, which is great, because in this weather you don't feel thirsty but your body needs a lot of water."

Some also noted that the race pace and winning times have also gone up this year.

Said Ang Chee Yong, 34, who was second in the men's marathon: "I honestly thought it would have been a walkover because last year's winning time was quite bad - 3hr 3min 29sec.

"I finished in 2:56:23 today but I was still 10 minutes behind the first guy. The standard has really gone up."

Ang was the fastest Singaporean male finisher in the marathon. Joining him on the podium were Briton Stuart Haynes, 37, and Alex Ong Seng Lee, 26.

Haynes, who has been based in Singapore for the past three years, won the race in 2:45:09, while third-place finisher Ong improved more than six minutes on his winning time last year to 2:57:16.

Said Haynes: "My daughter woke me up five times the night before, so I thought I'd feel terrible for this race. But I didn't, I actually clocked my personal best time by seven minutes plus.

"The race felt great. I was running with a group up till about the halfway mark but broke away from them and was on my own for the rest of the way."

In the women's division, Ong Kaifen, 32, and Neo Jie Shi, 28, were second and third respectively behind Sist (3:26:44).

Said the Italian of her first Sundown marathon: "The last part I struggled, but it's expected, otherwise you wouldn't call it a marathon. But I'm really happy with the result because I just completed an Olympic distance triathlon two weeks ago in Bintan. I didn't have much time to recover from it."

Ong, the first Singaporean woman to cross the finish line, added: "It was an exciting and eventful race. I did not expect to come in second so I'm really happy to have won despite having sprained my ankle last week!"

The Sundown Marathon also welcomed 22 hand-cyclists, the largest contingent assembled in Asia for an endurance race. Six of them competed for the first time in the marathon category. Michael Ngu came in first, completing the course in 1:46:33.

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