27 degrees and 89% humidity and that was at 4:30am – oh, which was also the start time!
An F1 race track, medal/bottle opener and 3rd place in her category (and top 10% overall), here is a terrific race report from Stefania Williams on the Singapore Marathon – well worth a read.
On Sunday 3rd December 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM). Now at its 16th year, the race, organized by IronMan Asia, attracted 48,000 participants in the 5 categories (Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, Ekiden, and 10K Wheelchair). The course takes runners through the most iconic parts of Singapore, and you get to run on the Formula 1 track!
Singapore is an island just south of Malaysia. It was formerly a British colony, so English is the primary language, but its history and commercial trades has also made it a cultural melting pot, with large Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian communities which live happily together (and one can try all types of food there!)
I arrived in Singapore on Friday 1st December evening, and on Saturday 2nd we visited the Expo to collect the bib. The Expo presented all latest technology, including a virtual race and the latest Garmin trackers, but most importantly, there were Pacers and Coaches available for advice. I was told that runners who are not used to heat and humidity should add at least half an hour to their predicted times, and follow a conservative approach, start strong to finish stronger. It was an advice which I intended to follow.
I took the opportunity to visit the finish point and walked under Marina Bay Sands, I was looking forward to the run across this part of the city!
On the morning of the race, I got up at 2:30am for breakfast. I took some oats from home, as I didn’t want to experiment anything new. We booked a hotel just opposite the Start so I didn’t have to travel much. At 4:10am, I went to join other runners on my pen in Orchard Road, a fashion avenue with the most beautiful Christmas decorations one can imagine. It was dark, but the streets were well lit.
The race flagged off at 4:30am. At the start, the temperature was 27 degrees and humidity 89%. This means that after waiting 10 minutes in the allocated pen, one was already dripping with sweat. Seriously. The first miles took runners through some of the most beautiful, iconic parts of the city, Little India, Chinatown, Marina Bay. It is a bit of a zig-zag, but very pleasant, and there were aid stations every mile. I made sure not to miss any station, keeping hydrated is very important in these conditions. I quickly noticed that the water was quite warm, while the isotonic drink was ice cold. I was also checking my heart rate, in case it went too high making running very difficult in the heat. I noticed that every Km mark banner had motivational quotes or facts about Singapore written on them, which really helped me to keep focussed. At 13K, the half marathon split from the marathon and the race became much less crowded.
Then we followed the coast on a long out-and-back through East Coast Park, and between the trees, I could see the sunrise over the ocean, it was truly spectacular! But with the sunrise, the temperature increased, and my legs started to feel heavy, Luckily, it was a bit cloudy so the sun was covered. I had to stop quite often to shake off the sweat from my top. We quickly arrived at half point and I was keeping a regular pace so I was happy.
The second half is a bit of a blur, my pace started to drop and I just concentrated to put one foot after the other. At 36K, I almost gave up. It was very hot. Most runners around me were walking at this stage, and the next Km was uphill on a bridge under the sun. It was really mind over marathon now. I started a walk-run strategy, and it seemed to work. At 40K, I knew I could finish but there was no shade, no wind. A banner reminded runners to “have faith in you” and I gave all I could in the last 2 Kms and crossed the finish line in 4:29:54 and never been so proud! We were given an ice cold towel at the end, it was so good to cool down.
Some runs remind you of what you are capable of, and Singapore marathon is certainly one of them. Personal records are not always about PBs: sometimes the best results come in the form of new experiences and different challenges. I learnt that heat and humidity present a unique challenge for running, and this made this race even more memorable. “Runners are always looking for a challenge that is greater than the one they last ran in”. So true.
The medal, shaped as Singapore island, is a bottle opener. So useful to open a well-deserved bottle of Tiger beer!
Stefania WILLIAMS (#6361)
Place 936 OF 9390
Female 123 OF 1755
Age Group 50-59 3 OF 130