So the Singapore Marathon has come and go. And happily for the majority of the runners, the chaos that I and many others foresee when we first heard about the combined start of the FM and HM did not materialise. In fact by all account, it was smooth sailing all the way. Well almost.
Understandably when almost 30000 people gather together in one area, some congestion is to be expected. But I guess the Pen system and the staggered start works well enough to ease the jam. Probably the only screw up was that the 10 km start was delayed for almost 30 minutes.
But ultimately in a big race like this, there is bound to be some congestion and like the previous edition, the congestion was at the end at the 40 km point when all the 3 categories merged together. And this was contrary to what Geoff Meyer said in the announcement of the new routes: “Meyer also pointed out that the half marathon and full marathon runners would be running on separate lanes” and “To ensure a smooth end to the race, we’ve created separate lanes as the routes merge from the 33km mark for Full and Half marathon runners to maintain their pace,” said Meyer to Yahoo Singapore.” There was no segregation at Raffles Avenue where I was. So something failed here or Ironman Asia could not persuade our very pragmatic authorities to see things their way.
Apart from the congestion, the other sore point was that some of the hydration points ran out of water. Actually was it out of water or out of cup? I was at the 40 km water point and personally witnessed this. The volunteers stopped serving the water. At first I thought they ran out of water but 10 minutes later, a landrover came by and replenish the cups and it was business as usual. So I supposed it was a case of being super unlucky for those runners who ran past the hydration points when they just happened to run out of water or cups.
Last but not least, an observation on the diversion points. There were comments on the various running forums that some runners took short cut. This was particularly so at the 12 km Fort Road/East Coast Park junction where the FM and HM split up. Apparently, FM runners can just take the HM route without completing the loop at East Coast Park. And although they will not get a timing they will get their finisher tee and medal. People also took shortcut along stretch of East Coast Park. This as opposed to being marked as “DNF” and disqualified from collected the finisher tee and medal. Oh well I supposed this is to be expected seeing that the organiser cannot possibly partition off the full race route. But the organiser could make it more difficult for people to take these type of short cut by having proper cut off timing and checkpoints instead of the weird 3 km, 12 km and 18 km diversion points. And why was there a need for a diversion point at 40 km when there is no other way for the runners to go but to the finish along the race route?
But overall, reading all the comments and feedback online, I think this year edition was indeed a much improved version compared to the last 2 editions. With more time and experience next year, possibly can there be hope that Singapore will finally have a Gold Label race to be proud of?