The 2019 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) will be taking place from 29th November to 1st December. At the official announcement of the event’s launch, it was also revealed that there will be a major reshuffle of the race schedule, and this year will be the first time in the event’s history that the marathon, half marathon, and ekiden categories will start at sunset on Saturday, 30th November.
The Kids Dash will start on Friday evening 7pm, while the 10km and 5km races will start on the morning of Sunday, 1st December.
The other bit of exciting news is that the bid to have the Singapore Marathon join the ranks of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) is right on track. It is not even a matter of conjecture at this point, as the World Marathon Majors office has gone on record to confirm that if it all goes according to plan, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon will become a World Marathon Major in 2021, joining the likes of the New York Marathon and Tokyo Marathon in the most prestigious marathon series in the world.
As a series, the WMM currently comprises six events, but the long-term business plan is to eventually extend this to a series of nine races worldwide annually, and Singapore is planned to be the seventh event held under the WMM roster. Two other races are to follow, and while still unconfirmed, the word on the street is that Chengdu in China is likely to host one, with the final one to join the roster will be held in Africa.
It is no simple matter to host a World Marathon Major though, and Geoff Meyer, Managing Director of Ironman Asia and organiser of the SCSM, explains that officials from the WMM have been at the SCSM for the last three years to advise on how the marathon needs to be managed to meet the high standards of a WMM.
“We’ve learnt a lot about how to host a marathon that is world-class from their team,” says Geoff. “There is still a lot of work to be done before we are granted the rights to host a World Marathon Major however, and over the next two years they will be evaluating how we manage the SCSM before making a decision. We have to meet all the criteria set out by the WMM, and the list is a long one.”
Besides the minutiae of operations details, the event also needs to have a minimum of 15,000 runners in the full marathon category to be eligible. Currently, the SCSM averages 13,500 full marathoners every year.
Geoff Meyer is optimistic that they can bring in the numbers over the next two years, and one of the main reasons that the marathon has been moved to an evening start is to encourage spectator participation along the route, which will raise the race atmosphere to another level.
One of the highlights of every World Marathon Major is the huge turnout of spectators along the entire route. The New York Marathon for example, has about 1.5 million spectators along the entire distance, and Singapore’s traditional early morning start at 4.30AM is simply not conducive for this.
Another advantage is that many sports coaches state that the human body is capable of the fastest speeds in the evening right around sunset, so this might play right into the hands of runners chasing a new SCSM Personal Best time.
The evening race, right at the peak of weekend city traffic, will add a layer of logistical complications to the event, but the organisers have assured that they will be working with all the relevant government authorities to ensure a smoothly managed event.
The race route for the 2019 SCSM has yet to be confirmed, but Ironman Asia has ruled out certain high profile locations based on logistical constraints. Orchard Road was the starting point of the marathon a few years ago, but it was revealed that the road simply does not have the capacity to meet WMM standards.
Geoff explains, “Orchard Road sounds good on paper, but the WMM standards require a certain amount of space and access points all along the route. One of the biggest constraints are actually the number of portaloos that we can place along Orchard Road. The amount needed is calculated based on a percentage of the total number of runners. We looked and quickly realised that there is simply no place along Orchard Road where we could fit the amount of portaloos required while also maintaining the high standard of sanitation needed.”
This could very well mean that there are just two more 'regular' Singapore Marathons left, after which, if everything goes according to plan, the event will become a World Marathon Major and be propelled to the top category in international marathons.
The super early bird registration for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon opens today.
Find out more at www.singaporemarathon.com.