- The Straits Times
This article was last updated at 5:40pm on Dec 13, 2019.
Update: Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon organiser Dirigo Events has responded to The Sole Supplier’s ranking, saying it was skewed and did not include participant feedback. Click here to read the company’s note to the media.
Organisers of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon may be pleased with the positive feedback it received for its first-ever night race in the Republic, but there are probably some outstanding issues it still needs to address.
These issues go beyond causing some of the worst traffic jams downtown Singapore has seen in years last Saturday (Nov 30). According to a recently published ranking of the world’s major marathons, the annual run in Singapore’s city centre is one of the worst in the world.
Only two other marathons worldwide were ranked below StanChart’s Singapore marathon – the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon and the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon.
The ranking of 81 marathons globally compiled by The Sole Supplier, a UK-based trainer review and news site, considers factors such as air quality, altitude, average finish times, average temperature and rainfall, starting entry fees, refreshment stations, medical aid, and toilets, among others.
In an article published on November 27, The Sole Supplier said that the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon was the worst in the world with a dismal score of just 3.69 over 10, largely due to air pollution, a hot climate, slow average finish times and a lack of medical aid along the course.
It warned that the Singapore iteration of the marathon – which scored 4.18 points – should “also be approached with caution”.
Massive traffic gridlock angers road users
Over the weekend, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon incurred the wrath of many Singaporeans who had their plans thwarted and delayed by road closures which started as early as 1pm on Saturday.
According to reports, at least four major events were taking place on the same day, including the marathon, the U2 Joshua Tree Tour concert at Sports Hub, the C3 Anime Festival Asia at Suntec City and Gardens By The Bay’s Christmas Wonderland.
On top of that, it is also not unusual for a flurry of activity to be taking place in the city during the year-end holiday season, whether it is Christmas shopping, public performances or weddings at major hotels downtown.
Musician Selwyn Koh was one of many who took to social media to express bewilderment at the organisers’ choice to hold an evening run in the middle of the city on a Saturday.
In a Facebook post dated December 1, Koh criticised organisers for not exercising empathy in their decision. Instead, the decision “reeks of nothing but stupidity and selfishness”, he said.
“Some have important family functions, and others are doing Christmas shopping. Some are heading for a concert, and others are rushing for their flights with several luggages in tow.
“Then there are weddings in every ballroom in every hotel all over the island, and there are people who need to travel by car/van simply because there are things to transport (e.g. bulky sound system, big instruments like cello/harp). Wedding attendees, who are decked in their best for the evening, will also mostly be driving,” Koh wrote.
He also said that one of his friends was stuck in traffic for four hours when travelling from Sentosa to Fullerton Hotel, while others had to run to events they were working at with large equipment and bags.
“Simply put, you cannot simply close roads to make way for a run on a Saturday evening, because it affects a lot of people – many of whom are working,” he added.
Koh’s post was shared over 4,000 times, with many netizens chiming in to echo his concerns in the comments section.
“I feel for everyone of you guys. All my events were delayed as well. I wished they did it in Jurong or something,” Facebook user AoCheng Su wrote.
Another, who goes by the name of Ang Chor, wrote: “Feel for you after reading. If (Standard Chartered Marathon) wants to organise another Sat race next year, come to my side…Lim Chu Kang, Pioneer, Gul, Benoi and Tuas South Blvd etc.”
Organiser says overall feedback has been positive
In a report on Tuesday, The Straits Times (ST) quoted Ironman Asia, the marathon’s organiser, as saying that feedback received on its first night race was positive overall.
“This is our first year of holding it in the evening, and there were issues, but overall the feedback has been positive.
“We apologise for the (congestion in the) Sentosa-Vivocity area… That was not done as well as it could have been, and we could have done better with small changes,” Ironman managing director Geoff Meyer was reported as saying.
According to ST, the marathon – which was a pre-dawn race in previous years – was changed to a night race as Ironman hoped it would increase its chances of being listed among the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of the most prestigious marathons in the world.
Asked if the race would be changed back into a morning run next year, Meyer reportedly said “it would be the last thing we want to do”.
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