The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon could move from its traditional December date to June starting next year

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon could move from year-end to June date.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu told The Straits Times on Thursday (Jan 16) that this is being "talked about" and would be discussed with race organizers to see how it would fit in with the World Marathon Majors (WMM) series.

While the minister did not elaborate on the rationale for the possible date change, she said: "If we can establish that in the calendar, and if the other corporates, hotels and agencies are used to a certain timing, we can work towards de-conflicting better."

Last year's SCSM from Nov 30 to Dec 1 saw the flag-off times of the 42.195km marathon, 21.2km half-marathon and Ekiden relay shifted from their usual pre-dawn starts to 6pm on Nov 30 to boost its chances of being listed among the World Marathon Majors.

But this drew flak from the public after an unprecedented convergence of three other events resulted in some motorists being stuck in traffic snarls for over two hours. Couples holding wedding banquets in town also ran into issues as guests and vendors were unable to make it to the functions on time.

Speaking on the sidelines of the MCCY year-in-review 2019 media conference, Ms Fu said that "we really empathize with the people who have been inconvenienced" and that it was the first time that they were "doing it on such a scale in this location at such a time".

Stressing that it would be a "great opportunity" for Singapore to be part of the WMM, she pointed to the city's hosting of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix and how organizers took a few years to get the kinks ironed out.

"What I can commit to Singaporeans is that all the agencies and the organizers and ourselves, we are treating this event very seriously," she added. "We're looking at all the feedback closely, and we will do our utmost best to do better in the next series."

Responding to queries from ST, Geoff Meyer, managing director of Ironman Asia, which organizes the SCSM, said: "The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon is the leading mass participation run and only IAAF Gold Label race in South-east Asia. In the last 18 years, the marathon has grown significantly, and we continue to take strides towards our goal of becoming an Abbott World Marathon Major, joining the likes of prestigious marathons around the world.

"We continue to look for ways to enhance the marathon across several aspects, and focus on the event festivities as well as programmes and initiatives that promote the running culture and community engagement in Singapore."

A spokesman for Sport Singapore said that they “are carefully studying the different options”, adding that “we value all feedback and will work with our partners and stakeholders to build the SCSM into an event that Singapore can be proud of”.

Soh Rui Yong, who won the Local Men's marathon title, said: "I think that June is possibly the worst time to hold the Singapore Marathon given that May and June are usually the hottest months of the year. This will heighten the risk of heat injuries.

"But I guess we can try one year and see what happens; maybe it's not as bad as I foresee it being!"

Gerald Gan, an adjunct lecturer in leisure and events management at the Singapore Institute of Management, said that “there is no good time” to hold the marathon unless it moves away from the city center, stressing that better planning of logistics, timing and the route would help. 

He added: “Unfortunately, there is no win-win. Someone has to compromise ultimately... it is about mitigating the amount of exposure in terms of all of these inconveniences to the public.”

posted Friday January 17th
by Low Lin Fhoong