SINGAPORE - A stream of blue took off from from the F1 Pit Building at 5.15am on Sunday morning for The Straits Times Run in the City 18.45km race.
Starting at the same starting grid as Formula One speed machines, the runners were flagged off from the heart of the city by ST editor Warren Fernandez amid a soundtrack of excited whoops and cheers.
Participants had gathered at the F1 Pit Building as early as 3am - way before the first flag-off at 5am - to limber up and get a good starting position for the morning run.
Said IT banker Anupam Sarkar, 34, who arrived at 3.30am: "It's my first run and I'm excited and quite curious. I'm looking for something crazy and I know that I can find that among people who wake up so early."
One colourful character was also Japanese national Tsubasa Nakamura, 41, who works in a construction company. He turned up in a suit and tie, with a copy of ST in hand for the run. He said: "This is my style, holding a newspaper in a suit. We need to learn to have some fun. I'm a typical businessman. My
pants might tear, but that's okay."
A heavy downpour just hours before the start of the race provided cool respite for runners from the heat. But even though the grounds were wet, the spirits of the participants were not dampened at all.
Said Wang Zilong, 27, who had camped overnight at the venue: "I was anxious, but I was prepared to run, even in the rain."
The rain had cleared by the time the first of three runs flagged off, allowing racegoers to take in a clear view of the sights along the race route, which took runners past some of Singapore's most iconic landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer, National Stadium, Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay.
The 18.45km run, aptly named to mark the year The Straits Times was founded, kicked off what would be a morning of fun-filled activities for both runners and supporters.
The unique distance which debuted last year remained a highlight for runners. Mr Steven Wong, 61, a manager in a financial firm, said: "It's a one-of-a-kind route. Last year, many people thought that there would not be another 18.45km held, But it's good to have it back so that people can keep breaking their personal bests."
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, this year's guest of honour, flagged off runners in the 10km category, before taking part in the 10km run himself at 6.30am.
Participants for the OCBC Mighty Savers 5km Family run were the final wave participants to set off at 7.45am.
This is the fourth edition of the ST Run, backed by presenting sponsors Panasonic. The first event was held at Punggol Waterway in 2013, while the last two years were held at the Singapore Sports Hub.