Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2019 gets new 6pm flag-off
Annual event eyes more participants and spectators as it bids to become a World Marathon Major
The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) will have its first-ever evening race later this year, in a bid to draw more participants and spectators .
The shift to a 6pm flag-off on Nov 30 is in line with meeting the requirements for a possible induction into the Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) club by 2021.
The half-marathon and ekiden race will also flag off at the same time on the same day.
The kids dash takes place at 7pm a day before, while the 10km and 5km races are at 6.30am and 8.30am on Dec 1.
The event details were announced by organisers Ironman Asia at the race's launch at the Mandarin Oriental hotel yesterday.
Previous editions of the SCSM flagged off between 4.30am and 5.30am.
Other steps to further the race's appeal include having over 26 entertainment points on route as well as new spectator zones.
Ironman managing director Geoff Meyer deemed the change to an evening race a "huge step forward in reaching our ambitions to be a world Major".
He said: "If you look at the other Major marathons in Berlin and New York, the crowd of spectators is huge.
"Running at 4.30 in the morning does not generate the crowd we are after.
"We want Singaporeans to come out and embrace this event as one of their own."
Meyer also revealed that one of the requirements of a Major was to have at least 15,000 finishers. There were only about 10,000 finishers last year and he hopes that the change in timing will boost this year's numbers.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, and Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, who was the guest of honour at the launch, said: "With the flag-offs on Saturday evening this year, I anticipate many more Singaporeans coming out to cheer on the runners and join in the excitement.
"I hope to see the (SCSM) join the ranks of the WMM in 2021."
Abbott WMM's 10-year partnership with Ironman, which was inked in 2017, will see it expand the series' race calendar from six to nine cities.
Two years ago, Singapore was also announced as an official candidate to join the six cities who have earned Major status - Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo.
Two weeks ago, the Chinese city of Chengdu threw its name into the hat.
Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin, however, played down the talk of the Chengdu Marathon pipping the SCSM to a Major spot.
He said: "Chengdu has announced its intention but has not started the journey yet, whereas we have been in consultation with Ironman and WMM since 2016 and will continue to do so for the next two years as we seek to tick the boxes."
Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong, the top local finisher in the 2017 and 2018 SCSM, welcomed the changes.
He told TNP: "For the runners, it settles a problem of sleep deprivation.
"It used to be tough on the body, to get up at about 1.30am and prepare for a 4.30am flag- off. The evening start settles this problem...
"It helps to thrust the marathon into the public spotlight.
"Previously, the race would be over even before most Singaporeans wake up. A lot more eyes will be on the race because of this change."