'Blade Runner' Shariff remembers Boston Marathon bombing in 2013
Tight security at S'pore race calms Shariff, who remembers 2013 Boston bombing scare
They almost always feel a sense of exhilaration and anticipation as they near the finishing line.
After all, the line represents the end of the suffering of a marathon runner, the completion of a monumental task, and crossing it heralds an achievement unique in its feat.
For Shariff Abdullah, the memory of one particular marathon he ran in fills him with dread to this day.
The 47-year-old full-time athlete, famously known as the "Blade Runner" here, was 800m away from completing the Boston Marathon in 2013 when a bomb went off near the finishing line.
Said Shariff: "The fear is always there... up till now, each time I want to run a marathon, I think to myself what may happen in terms of security at the event."
Born without a left leg, Shariff runs with a prosthetic blade and will be in the mix at this year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, which will take place on Dec 5 and 6.
The athlete and motivational speaker is looking forward to his event on Dec 6.
"We have the best security people around in town and I believe I will finish strong," said Shariff, who is one of the running ambassadors of title sponsor Standard Chartered Bank this year.
Chris Robb, CEO of race organisers Spectrum Worldwide, said during a media briefing at Hotel Jen yesterday that security measures are already in place, and will be bumped up if necessary, in light of the terror attacks in France last Friday.
He said: "After the Boston bombing, our industry changed forever... the tragedy in Paris happened only a few days ago, but we are working closely with authorities to make any necessary enhancements in the lead-up to the event. We certainly take it (event security) very seriously."
The marquee running event will take place over two days this year, with the Kids' Dash shifting to the Singapore Sports Hub 24 hours before the main event, so that parents and their kids can catch the Asean Para Games track and field events at the National Stadium.
Robb said the move will also minimise adults tripping over children near the finishing line at the Padang, as well as to alleviate congestion in the area.
He added that if response from the participants is positive this year, the annual running event may retain the new two-day format.
The route remains largely unchanged from last year, with the 42km marathon being flagged off along Orchard Road, while the half-marathon will start in Sentosa. The 10km run will start along Esplanade Drive, with all the three routes ending at the Padang.
The organisers have improved the frequency of drink stations along the routes, and also inserted banana stations for the half-marathon (previously, it only featured in the full marathon).
There will also be a variety of performers along the route, and at the start and finish points, to lift the spirits of weary runners.
Ranjith Vijayan, 37, will be attempting to set a new Guinness World Record this year by successfully completing the Rubik's Cube 300 times in five hours while running the 42km race. The current record stands at 175 solves in the same time period and distance.
For Shariff, the time he clocks will not matter as much as his role as a race ambassador.
"I just want to inspire everyone... As a participant, we just have to carry on, and concentrate on our run.
"And, make sure you cross the finishing line."