Going the distance: How the Singapore Marathon is creating the perfect race experience

"Of all the races, there is no better stage for heroism than a marathon," Running author George Sheehan had remarked.

On the weekend of November 29, several thousands of runners with such aspirations in mind will take their place at the starting line. The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon will be a little different this year.

Running in the night lights

Several changes were announced to the format of the SCSM long before the race weekend. First, and the most major change of all, is one in the race timing.

The marathon is now scheduled to take place during the evening. The full marathon itself has been set in a 6:00 PM local time slot on November 30, making it the first evening race in SCSM history. The evening slot was specifically chosen keeping the participants in mind. They now get to run the gruelling marathon in much cooler temperatures, providing for a better overall experience while allowing them to achieve their personal best.

The new time slot also opens up the Lion City for the participants during the night time. A scenic route specifically has been marked for the races, with some of Singapore's biggest attractions lined up along the way.

The full marathon will commence at the F1 Pit Building, before heading towards the South Beach. From there on, the runners will move on to the Beach Road, running past the War Memorial Park in the process.

The participants will then be turned onto St Andrew's Road, where they will be greeted with iconic Singapore sights such as St Andrew's Cathedral and Merlion Park. Along the way, they will run past some of the city's key landmarks, including the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands, all the while enjoying the night lights. The full forty-two kilometres race will end at The Float @ Marina Bay.

The organizers have turned the Singapore marathon into a three-day event. The proceedings will begin on November 29 with the Kid's Dash. The full marathon, the half marathon, and the Toyota Ekiden team relay will take place on November 30. The race weekend will come to a close early on December 1, with the 5K and 10K races.

The big picture

The aforementioned changes have been made keeping the bigger picture in mind, which in this case is putting Singapore on the map of Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) - a list of elite-level races all around the globe, including Boston and London.

The organizers have pinned 2021 as the year by which they hope to qualify for the Abbott WMM. Geoff Meyer, managing director of IRONMAN Group in Asia, one of the stakeholders in the SCSM spoke about the changes, while also speaking upon the long-term vision.

"Enhancements are happening every year to build up the event festivities as well as programs and initiatives that promote the running culture and community engagement in Singapore," Meyer said.

"We are now closer than ever to the required criteria and strongly believe that the change in flag-off time and several other improvements over the next two editions will see more marathoners and community support than ever as we position ourselves to qualify in 2021."

With the changes taking effect from this year, runners will experience a different type of race. The significant alterations made for this edition will help the Singapore marathon close in on the level on other such world-class events, such as the Boston and the London marathons. In two years time, SCSM will hope that their name is included among the elite events in the Abbott WMM.

On the weekend of November 30, several thousand runners will wait patiently on the starting line - every single one hoping to push beyond the limits and achieve their personal best. All the while, those behind the event will wait on the sidelines. For them, the race is still to be run, the grand finish still to be achieved. One which may see them join the world elite.

To find out more about the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, click on the link.

You can also register for the SCSM via the official website here.