Standard Chartered Half Marathon 2016 Review

I did my first half marathon with Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) last year but hesitated to join SCMS again this year. This race is one of the most expensive ones out there, 2015’s start time was late and it’s running route had lots of slope. Hence, I only decided to join at the last moment after SCMS published their earlier start time at 4.30 am and new flatter running route. It turned out to be a right choice as I enjoyed this year’s run more than last year’s. These days, I run happy rather than for the timing so I think it takes away some unnecessary stress too!

Race Day

I had a late night out with friends the day before the race so I only managed to sleep for 2 hours before getting ready for SCMS (note to self: bad idea). I Uber-ed down to Orchard and reached at 4.05am. I start at Pen F which flags off at 5am so I still had enough time to navigate and find my way.

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There were really many runners already there and it felt like an early afternoon at Orchard!

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I must say that the signs to indicate the direction to the start pens were tiny and far and between. I saw so many people like me wandering around to find the entrance to the pens.

Flag off was in waves, even for the pens itself, and I found myself in the 3rd wave of pen F which flagged off a little past 5am. Off we went with little fanfare. As this was my only time running this route, I couldn’t run through it in my mind prior to the race. It’s something that I try to do before a race, as anticipating the route ahead helps me to run a better race.

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There was no congestion at the start of the race. The road was wide for everyone (4 lanes on Orchard Road) and I didn’t have runners zooming past me. I think this is the benefit of the wave system, people in my pen are running a race with a 2h45min target and we sort of have the same pace. It was cool to run on the streets of Orchard and just when sleepiness was kicking in (due to the lack of it) just 1KM into the race, I ran into 2 runners in yellow vests. They were a visually impaired runner with her guide. This sight really motivated me to run on for this race, I felt humbled and that I should keep going despite everything.

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Credit: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Facebook

Running from Orchard through to Shenton, it was well lit by street lights. It got a litter darker when we ran towards the Marina Barrage and Gardens By The Bay East, but there were makeshift spotlights to shine some darker areas.

As I was running towards Marina Barrage, I saw a band of drummers as entertainment to cheer the runners on. Kudos to them for waking so early to cheer us on!

We half marathoners ran aside the marathoners for 12 KM and split before the full marathoners headed towards ECP. There were volunteers shouting for half marathoners to keep left and marathoners to keep right about 100m before we separated to our respective paths. I initially thought that they didn’t have proper signage hence all the shouting, but it turned out that they just wanted to alert us in advance.

As I ran towards the national stadium, I felt that my left knee was acting up a bit so I approached a volunteer for some muscle rub at this hydration point. I had cool 100 plus here but this hydration point was also the one where the bananas and HIGH5 Sports Nutrition banana flavoured gel was located. There were ample of these when I was there but I didn’t take them as I carried my own GU gel and had already started to eat it at around the 11km mark.

These hydration points turned out to be my mini goal for this race. Every hydration point is about 3.5km apart so I ran this race telling myself that I’m reaching my mini goal with cool hydration every time I felt tired.

A little past the 16KM mark running towards Republic Avenue,  there were large fans with water mist stationed there. I’ve only seen these once when I was doing my Shanghai Half Marathon 8 miles event earlier this year so I was excited to see this again! The sun was getting higher at 7am in the morning and it helped to cool me down.

There was a hydration point before we approach the slopes on Republic Avenue so I drank up before I tackled it. Usually I won’t feel the strain of doing this mini slope as many other races start off with this route but having to do this 17KM into the race is another story.

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Wheelchair runners! Credit: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Facebook

As I ran by the Singapore Flyer, I came across the visually impaired runner with her guide again! I also saw a wheelchair runner zooming past all of us here. What strength! I think I got fuzzy feelings when I saw them and they motivated me to finish strong.

There were volunteers giving out wet tissues to runners at the esplanade. I thought it was a sweet move as it was indeed getting hotter now. I didn’t take one and powered on with about 1.2KM left.

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The gentle but ever so killing slope up the Esplanade Dr was draining and the last 1KM felt like forever. I tried to speed up at Anderson bridge but had nothing much left in my tank. How happy I felt when I really saw the finishing line and finished in 2:36:01h! I heard the MC announced that the 2nd female full marathoner just approached the finishing line when I was coming in and that is just unbelievable pace. Kowtow to elite runners!

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We were handed mineral water straight away post race and were separated to different zones to collect our medal, banana and 100 plus. There was no banana last year so I was happy to see it this year! The Padang field was muddy so I didn’t spend time there for the carnival and went home with jelly legs.

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Post Race Thoughts

Overall Race: 4/5

I liked this year’s SCMS better than last year’s.

The starting time was much earlier so we ran much of the race without the morning sun. I liked the pen and wave arrangement as the faster runners won’t be blocked by slower runners this way since they were lined up in front of the race.

The roads were wide and marathoners had their own path that were separate from us half marathoners after our paths merged back at Ford Road. This should ensure that the faster runners won’t be blocked by slower half marathoners. However, all runners converge at the last 3km so I’m sure that will be a problem for mid paced marathoners. They are sure to meet the slower half marathoners and even walking 10km runners.

There were more roving entertainment to encourage runners on this year and I personally feed on encouragement when I’m running a race so I really appreciated that. The water mist is a nice touch too! There was none last year when the sun was really burning hot!

I feel that the major problem with this race is with the hydration stations. It would be great if they had one more hydration point in the middle of the race. It felt like forever to reach the hydration stations for the stretch from the 8km to 16km point.

It would also be better if they had more volunteers manning the hydration stations. The poor volunteers were so busy! They just couldn’t cope with the large number of runners. SCMS is a huge event with tens of thousand of runners after all! I approached 1 or 2 hydration points that only had empty cups on the table and the volunteers were frantically filling up the cups. There were also too little tables for hydration that caused a crowding around each table which will definitely stress the volunteer out.

Minor caveat: I thought the medal looked thin, huge and ugly! It will still be cherished by me but oh well…

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