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Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report

The Standard Chartered Marathon 2023 was an exhilarating race that unfolded last weekend, drawing a massive crowd of over 40 thousand runners across the 5km, 10km, 21km, and 42km distances. As I recount my experience participating on Sunday’s half-marathon event, I delve into the various aspects of the race, from the starting line at the F1 pit building to the finish line within the Sports Hub stadium. Let’s explore the journey, challenges, and highlights of Singapore’s signature marathon event- the Standard chartered marathon 2023 with a post race report.

Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report
This year’s marathon event has a new route and a couple of quirks, onward my 2023 SCM race report!

The race commenced from the familiar F1 pit building, echoing the starting point of the previous year’s event. Fortunately, unlike the previous year, the race started almost on time, at 5am. However, a 30-minute delay occurred due to traffic congestion on a major highway leading to the event.

Congestion to enter the race pens.
Congestion to enter the start line race pens.

Pre-race and flagoff

 

Also, there seem to be a bottleneck at the F1 pit building event entrance this year, where large crowds are stuck from entering the event grounds. The traffic horde was managed and regulating by only two auxiliary police officers overseeing the inflatable entrance gateway. The security screening tents presented a choice between left and right routes, a crucial decision based on your starting pen location.

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Entry pens
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Security screening area
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Pre-race hydration

When facing the rear of the F1 pit building, the race flags off right to left. Hence, runners on starting pens A-C be better off taking to the left route, with the security screening tents leading right to the left side of the F1 pit building. Likewise, for runners in pens C-F and beyond towards the right side of the F1 Pit main building.

Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report Long toilet queues
Long toilet queues with a lots of portable toilets at the start point.

As a piece of advice, it is recommended to avoid using toilets at the race starting expo as the queues are usually very long. Instead the toilets at nearby Marina Bay malls such as Marina Square and Millenia Walk are good options before coming into the race village.

Bumper to bumper crowds
Bumper to bumper crowds at the F1 pit building starting point.

Furthermore, it was odd that every runner had to go through thorough security screenings this year. This added to congestion something which wasn’t an issue last year. Getting from the venue entrance and past security can take about 15-20 minutes.

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F1 pit event area
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Race pens entry points
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The start line

It was odd even runners who do not have any carry-on or bags have to join the screening queue, causing unexpected additional pre-race congestion. This is despite that baggage collection is not on-site this year. The separation of the baggage deposits from the race entry didn’t quite reduced crowds or streamlined security checks.

Across the start line!
Race start and running across the start line!

Not liking different starting and ending points

A significant departure from previous running events was the separation of start and end locations. It is quite a first for me considering most if not all the events I attended so far has the start and end points at the same location. While this may not pose an issue for public transport users, those with private vehicles faced challenges. This is especially if drivers or car pools are parked at the starting point, and have to travel 2-3 MRT stops from stadium back to the start line (promenade or esplanade stations) after the event.

The upside is that there is fewer road closures in the Marina Bay area. This as the Sports Hub area is more enclosed with road closures affecting fewer major roads as compared to the downtown Marina bay area. Also, having said that, I can see the challenge having to juggle two venues do add significantly to venue costs, as well as logistical and organisation too given the need for a larger team to manage two venues too.

This could be the reason why registration fees for this year’s marathon even that hit record highs too, with $150 fees being the norm and prices going up to $180 for one participant. In comparison, the event almost year years ago costs almost 3 times less.

The first 5km

The race started tad later from about 4:45am. The elite runner pen is first to go, followed by pens A to F, with each pen taking about 5-10-minute each to fully flag off. I found this wait allows for those in rear pens to arrive much later than the official flag-off time, spacing out the crowds. Factoring in the intervals, runners from Pen D onwards would flag off about 30 minutes from the stated official starting time, so technically you an arrive from 5am+ and still start off on-time. I found coming in later also allowed you to experience much less crowds in the race village

War memorial
Along Nicoll highway past the War memorial.

Besides having an earlier start, there is no disincentive to choose a faster or slower starting pen, as your timings are based off chip-time (not guntime, unless you are en elite runner). Choosing a starting pen is based off an honour system at registration at your own discretion. Still, the system sorts itself out overtime. Still, you can find a large number of timing-optimistic, but slower runners flagging off from the faster pens. This greatly added to the congestion at the start. This was notable given a large number of runners who already started walking within 2km into the race, adding to the initial congestion.

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2km mark toilets
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Clear roads
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Nicoll highway long stretch

Moving on, the route took runners from the F1 pit building through Republic Avenue towards Beach Road. The first 1km has new additions like portable loos. This addition is probably any answer to the large number of runners taking a pee at the construction site entry gate here on last year’s race. Much to the dismay of the construction company the next day I can guess.

Pacing the crowd

The starting race crowd is always the worse at the start, where runners are usually full of adrenaline, often running faster than a sustainable pace, and often recklessly overtake zipping between and cutting off runners. It is something best to avoid in a crowd.

The crowds here is are more bearable than the crowds from last year.
The crowds here at the start are more bearable and not bumper to bumper than the crowds from last year.

I found starting at the back of your timing pen proved effective in reducing initial congestion. This was something I come to realise after stopping within the first 2km to use a toilet, only to return back where I left with the runner crowds completely gone. It was nice running without crowds for my beach road stretch. This is contrary to my last year’s Standard chartered marathon 2022 race report, this tunnel section was exceptionally packed.

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Hydration water points
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Entertainers
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Marina Bay Sands in view.

Here, the route from Beach Road to Nicoll Highway, Marina Bay Esplanade Bridge, Shelton Way, and alongside the Keppel Viaduct is one of the longest straight stretches of the race. It also offered a scenic journey running past several landmarks points of interest. Example include the Marina Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the CDB.

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Elite runners returning
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Through the CDB
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Headed towards Keppel road

On this part of my run, you can start to see the elite runners going in the opposite direction along Clifford pier into the mass of crowds headed southbound along their way along Robinson road towards Keppel road. Runners could be seen encroaching into the opposite lane, at times blocking these elite runners too.

Keppel Viaduct

Route under the Keppel Viaduct
Route under the Keppel Viaduct.

Past the 6km mark sees you running under the Keppel Viaduct. It is one of the more boring parts of the race. As per last year’s Standard chartered marathon race report, this 2023 installment similarly brings you along landmarks along Keppel Viaduct such as the old Tanjong Pagar railway station. But instead of U-turning at the end of keppel road, the route continues down towards West Coast highway.

Pretzels was a welcome as a mid-race snack.
Pretzels was a welcome as a mid-race snack.

Westcoast highway, a new scenic route

Entering West Coast Highway introduced an uphill climb, the steepest in the race, though still much easier than the ending Sheares Bridge climb from the previous year. Also, this new addition to the route showcased landmarks like the old Prima Tower, Vivocity, and the Mt Faber cable car station.

The west coast highway route is a nice elevated flat stretch.
The west coast highway route is a nice elevated flat stretch.

At the 10km the west coast highway U-turn point, I noticed a number of runners missing the timing gantries here. This is due to the traffic cones funneling runners over the race chip gantry has widened, allowing runners to pass around the gantry.

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Running Pacers with balloons
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Tanjong Pagar rail station
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Downhill stretch

For relief, I recalled that two waterpoints provided Tiger Balm spray points, both located in the CBD area, specifically Cecil and Anson Road. Also, water points every 2km provided relief, with a strategic tip to overtake crowds at the first tables and grab drinks at the less-crowded last few tables of the water point.

Waterpoints
Waterpoints are located every 2km on the route, which offers more than enough hydration needs.

Furthermore, it worth noting the rear waterpoint tables are also usually where the isotonic drinks are offered. As usual the bins for cup disposal are large, which kept ground litter manageable.

The return journey sees you past historical landmarks like Lau Pa sat.
The return journey sees you past historical landmarks like Lau Pa sat.

This section is also where you pass by historical landmarks such as the Lau Pat Sat (old market) and back alongside Fullerton hotel by the Esplanade bridge.

Roadside cheers.
Roadside motivation and cheers!

Also, here, you can also find several members of public cheering on runners, as well as the official mascots are on the roam too to motivate runners in their race.

Official SCM mascots along the run.
Official SCM mascots along the run.

Back to the Marina Bay

A busy CDB stretch towards marina boulevard.
A busy CDB stretch towards marina boulevard.

If you are keeping to an approximate 10km/hr pace, the sun would had already risen when you are in the Marina Boulevard area just before 7am. Also, the 15km U-turn point of the half marathon is an odd bunch, with not much of a sight by the promontory.

Race supporters along Marina boulevard.
Race supporters along Marina boulevard.

Also, it saw runners U-turn circling back to Collyer Quay, while the full marathon carries on to east coast via Gardens by the bay. It might be better if the running route follows along Marina Bay sands across the helix bridge towards the Esplanade promenade.

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Back along Anson road
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Robinson Road
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Capital Tower

Last stretch into the Sports Hub

The final few kilometers back into the Sports Hub grounds saw a minor upward incline along the bridge at the end of Nicoll highway. The last 2km see you running past Kallang Decathlon and past Kallang mall back towards the stadium. Interestingly, there was a lion dance troupe welcoming you into the stadium on this last stretch.

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Raffles Place
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Back on Nicoll highway
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Nicoll highway cheers
Last climb up the Merdeka bridge
Last uphill climb up the Merdeka bridge towards the last 2km stretch to the finish.

Moreover, you can see the finish line when running into the stadium. The finishing line greets and welcomes you right at the large gated entrance of the Sports Hub stadium.

Last 100m into the stadium
Last 100m dash into the stadium.
The finishing line!
The finishing line!

Finishing line and post race recovery area

Also, the finishing line gantry in the distance in the stadium bestows a target you can see from afar for a final finishing sprint. A wave of cool air in the cooled stadium interior greets you the moment you cross the finishing line. Thereafter, you are subsequently whisked into pens distributing your finisher medal, bottled water, 100-plus, bananas.

You be given water, 100-plus and bananas.
You be given water, 100-plus and bananas.

Also, I found SCM implementation of the finishing line spot in comparison better than this year’s Army half marathon, where the finishing line is hidden past two more turns into the stadium grounds.

Post race goodies and hydration.
Post race goodies, towel and hydration.Working on a tried and tested model similar to last year.
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Last stretch into the sports hub
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Finishing line stretch
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Event booths

The seating area in the stadium does provide for seating and resting areas for runners after the run. You could see several runners all seated on the stadium floor, often to stretch, much to the dismay of event security personnel, who often has to scoot away runners each time the seated crowd gets too big.

Overview of the interior of the Sports hub stadium finishing grounds.
Overview of the interior of the Sports hub stadium finishing grounds.

Wrapping up

Also, at the finishing line, my GPS race distance is about 400m longer than 21km, with my watch closing about 21.5km at the finish line. Despite keeping a slow constant pace and not stopping to walk throughout my run, I completed my race in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, almost 20 minutes slower than my August Army Half marathon timing. Still, my pace was sub 10km/hr, considering I was recovering from a recent bout of flu, I think it was a reasonable achievement.

 Finisher Medal awarded at the end of your race from Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report.
Finisher Medal awarded at the end of your race.

Also, this race saw me putting the Hoka Clifton 9 running shoes up to it’s paces too. And I am glad to report the shoe performed well for the full 21km in terms of cushioning performance to the end. Thankfully, I also did not get any blisters after the run, affirming I got the shoe’s fit and toe box pretty much spot-on.

Running into the sunrise
Running into the sunrise. That’s all folks for my Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report, see you next year!

That wraps up my Standard chartered marathon 2023 race report. In conclusion, the Standard Chartered Marathon 2023 provided a unique and challenging experience. Despite minor inconveniences, the race showcased scenic routes, strategic planning, and a well-implemented finish line, making it a memorable event in my running journey.

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