Running legend Cram gives thumbs up to S'pore Marathon
A race like no other - that is how former athletics world champion Steve Cram describes tomorrow's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS).
The Englishman, one of the most dominant middle-distance runners in the 1980s - he set world records in the 1,500 and 2,000 metres, along with the mile in 1985 - believes that a strong local representation is what makes the SCMS special.
"What's very unusual about the marathon here is that pretty much the whole city seems to be involved," said the 54-year-old, who is now an athletics commentator for the BBC.
"But it's unusual in a good way, of course. Down here, there's a large majority of local competitors.
"If you run the New York City or London Marathons, there are people from all over the world. Many marathons balloon into purely international events, and they lose the local flavour a little bit.
"But, here in Singapore, it feels a lot like a community event and that is absolutely fantastic. It truly is a race unlike many others."
Around 53,000 runners are expected to participate tomorrow, roughly the same as the Big Six marathons - Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City.
Cram, though, feels that the SCMS does not have the same status as the six because of one thing: Climate.
Said Cram: "With the hot and humid conditions down here, one thing that will somewhat inhibit the marathon's marketability is the fact that runners will not, in all likelihood, be able to post personal best times or break world records.
"That's why some of the top runners would prefer to skip Singapore on their race calendar."
He insists, however, that the SCMS has plenty to offer - be it competitive or otherwise.
"But participation (for this marathon) certainly isn't a problem, because 60,000 or so turn up every year. That's a huge number," said Cram.
"You have a spectacular course, one of the best and most scenic in the world. And there's also the added factor of the race's inclusivity.
"You have the marathon, half-marathon, 10km, ekiden and the kids' dash, so there's something for everyone here.
"If you run the London Marathon, there are only two choices on offer - the main marathon and the mini-marathon.
"So that's where I feel most of the effort has to go into - to make the SCMS unlike any other race.
"Because clearly, the sense of community and inclusivity is a major draw for the marathon's regulars."
'I'd rather beat Newcastle than Coe'
Which is your favourite marathon other than London, and why?
STEVE CRAM: New York City, because I've run it plenty of times and the atmosphere is fantastic.
Is it true that running a marathon is more of a mental than a physical challenge?
Both, because first, you have to be physically prepared to run 42km. And then the rest, it's all in your head.
What do you miss most about the sport after retiring?
At first, I missed the competitive nature of running but, now, I just miss being fit.
Who was your biggest track rival?
Sebastian Coe. I've had some great rivalries, but Coe was the hardest to run against.
If not track and field, what sport would you have been good at?
Football, without a doubt. Sunderland are my team. My uncle was a professional footballer for West Brom many years ago, and it pretty much runs in the family.
So who would you rather beat? Sebastian Coe or Newcastle?
Newcastle! I no longer have to beat Seb any more, we're good friends. But Newcastle and I will never get along.
When will England win the football World Cup?
How good were you in your studies?
I was pretty good, until my last year in school. I was always a good student, but sometimes a whole new world opens up for you and, for me, that was running.
What is the best thing about being a commentator?
Well, it's the next best thing other than running, because you're actually part of the event, so that's the good part.
And the bad part?
The bad part? Well, everyone wants to hear his name on television and, when the commentator forgets your name, it's heartbreaking. I was a runner myself, I know how that feels.