StanChart Marathon opts for a virtual format
New format could include physical components for the Dec 5-6 race
With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of top races such as the Boston and Berlin Marathons, the Republic's marquee mass running event, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), will be departing from its traditional road race format for a virtual one.
Two initiatives, the SCSM Virtual Club and SCSM Virtual Racing Series, were launched yesterday to complement the Dec 5-6 race.
This year's SCSM will feature a "unique alternative race format with virtual and possible physical components", said organiser Ironman Group in a press statement.
Physical elements of the race "are being explored depending on regulations to replace the traditional road race", said the organisers, and more details will be announced soon via the SCSM's digital platforms.
Geoff Meyer, the Ironman Group's managing director for Asia, said during a virtual press conference yesterday: "We would love to be launching a 50,000-person event running through the streets of Singapore, but obviously this is not to be the case in our current environment.
"The SCSM Virtual Club is a 15-week running engagement, which is like a candy store for all our runners... (it) will bring together the running community in new ways, while introducing extra motivation into the training routine and bringing runners to the grand finish, all in a safe and controllable environment."
The club, which is free to join, includes weekly races and challenges, an online store with redeemable rewards, training and nutritional resources and performance tracking.
Runners can also track their running data and compare their performances to their peers across local and global leaderboards.
They can also take part in the weekly Virtual Racing Series, conducted over 15 races and grouped according to four themes that celebrate running routes that are unique to Singapore.
An activity-based loyalty point system has also been designed to motivate runners by earning points as they train, and they are rewarded through merchandise, discounts and special benefits.
On race weekend, the SCSM's virtual reality component will allow runners to create avatars that can navigate through the virtual race route in real time and compete with fellow runners.
Organisers have also said that participants can still look forward to the event's "signature finisher experience" - complete with their finisher photo.
Calling this year's event a "unique experience", Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: "With the launch of new innovative solutions, we will be able to continue training and connecting with fellow runners and athletes from around the world."
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Members of the running community welcomed the launch of the Virtual Club, with marketing director Nick Kao signing up shortly after its launch.
The 37-year-old, who runs five days a week, said: "During the pandemic a lot of runners have been participating in a lot of virtual runs, and we were quite surprised that the SCSM is able to do something that's different from the other virtual runs.
"The main difference is of course the system - the platform is a little bit like Strava which we are used to. But I'm very excited about this because this is more local where a lot of runners will be able know more about the different running groups in Singapore and places we haven't explored before."