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Highlights and Review of Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2022

·7 mins
review race

As Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon announced a new finish line for their 2023 edition, I take this opportunity to reflect on the 2022 edition and share my feedback on the great race.

Back in 2022, after 4 years of living in Singapore, I was excited to run Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2022. As the running races slowly resumed around the world, I felt I had to take the opportunity to race and run Singapore after calling it home for so many years.

It was my only marathon race in 2022, so I wanted to make the most of it. My goal was ambitious, to complete it in 3:45:00 going for a personal best in one of the hottest countries.

The training #

The race was planned for December 2022. I had a few semi-marathon aligned before it, in August and November, to build for it. Back then, my training was pretty consistent from May onward.

That said, it wasn’t a consistent training program from the start. I started with a 12 weeks program until August designed for a semi-marathon, then another 12 weeks designed for a marathon.

Thinking back, maybe it was a mistake, preparing for different types of races requires different mileage to build up. Having a 20-24 weeks program for the marathon could have been a better way to get ready, and use other races as a testing session.

Each week was composed of 4 running sessions, including one long run and a speed session. I did some strength sessions too, but I don’t think it supported well-enough the preparation to cover 42km.

Three weeks before the Singapore Marathon 2022, I completed a half-marathon in Malaysia, and although I said I would go “easy”, I’m not sure I had enough time to recover best for what was waiting for me.

Last preparation #

As Singapore is a hot weather country, the race start is also very early, we’re talking 4:30 am early.

In my case, I planned to cycle to the start line mostly because there is no public transport at this time, and it was unlikely I could find a cab as all runners would try to get one. This means I need to make a ~20min ride, park it safely somewhere, and still have enough time to drop my bag.

My running outfit has been the same for all “hot-country” races, which is composed of running shorts with inner tights and pockets for gels, a singlet that would likely remove after 5km (as it can get uncomfortable to have a wet shirt on).

For my shoes, I sticked with a pair of ASICS Kayano 29, a decent pair of shoes that helps me with my pronation movement.

One thing that can make a difference is having a cap: it can protect you from the sun and the rain (as the weather moves quickly in Singapore), but also redirect the sweat away from your eyes. That has been working well for me.

I brought 4 energy gels with me, had a banana and bread before leaving home, which was around 3:30 am (we’ll get back to this later), electrolytes before leaving, as well as my bike bottle.

The race #

On the race day, I woke up around 3:00 am, ate breakfast, cycled to the start line, and drop my bag there. It was a bit more stressful than anticipated as there was a queue to check security bags. I would recommend coming early enough to avoid this kind of stress.

Although cycling was handy and helped me warm up, it also means I sweated earlier than expected, which means less water for the start line.

Finally at the start line, 15mins before the kickoff, the rain starts pouring. This is not your usual light rain, we’re talking about heavy, thundery, and stormy hot rain.

At first, the organization pushed back the start of 15mins, and then did it again, and again, and again. The weather was really bad, and there was not a lot of space to stay protected from it. The start eventually happened at 5:30 am, an hour later than the scheduled start.

It might not sound bad, but in my case, it means I cooled down under this heavy rain, my shoes and gear are completely wet, which means heavier shoes to with and blisters forming faster. The last point, I was already thirsty and getting hungry: the light food I had was 2h earlier and the last drink 1h earlier.

The weather overall became light and rainy, but the humidity was heavier than usual.

Singapore marathon 2022

As the race starts and the kilometers fly by, the feeling of my pace feels off. My watch gave me wrong feedback for a while, it felt hotter than expected, but I tried to stay on schedule.

Between 12km and 14km, this route goes in the middle of the CBD area, under a highway. For some reason, it was so hot, with no air at all from the coast. I realized that today wouldn’t be a challenge about running, but managing the weather as I ran.

Until 20km-22km, I managed to keep my pace more or less where I wanted to, I kept up the morale high as I knew exactly the route. After all, I ran in Singapore for 4 years, so from the buildings and areas I passed, I knew well what to expect and when.

Because of the late start, the sun was getting higher and hotter. From 26km, I felt overheating. This was a new feeling, and as soon as I drank a glass of water, I felt I needed another one. This is tricky to manage (as I learn later), because your body is sending the wrong signals and you drinking more water wouldn’t cool you down fast enough.

Moving forward, I stopped at every water station, I tried to keep small segments in mind, to focus and complete the next 3km, and then 3 more, and so on. I gave up on my time goal by then, but I felt I was doing okay as long as I could finish under 4:00:00.

Then around 34km, the pacers for 4h time passed and took away my morale and energy for the last 8km.

The rest of the race was about heat and pain management, trying to finish it one step at a time.

Eventually, I reached out to the end at 4:12:41.

Review #

The event itself was very well organized. If you have visited Singapore before, you wouldn’t be surprised by it, but the registration website, the collection of race packs a few days before, the race route, and the overall communication made it a great event.

What struck me the most was the race pack collection. It happened at the Marina Bay Sand Expo, a huge exposition center, with no waiting line and it was pretty straightforward.

That said, at the finish line, I noticed a lot of people waiting around for the pictures and medal engravings. The 10km and 21km racers finished earlier, so there are a lot of people around. I didn’t spend more time around the finish line to explore the booth, I didn’t feel like it.

Another thing to point out is that the event isn’t cheap: the price is pretty steep in my opinion, probably due to the roads to close and the security in place.

The rainy weather was very unfortunate, it was hard to prepare for it, and the delay in the start affected me a bit: on the energy level (starting hungry and thirsty) and the gear (heavy wet socks and shoes). I learned that it’s best to keep a bottle and light food until the start and threw it away if you don’t want it.

Others were affected too, I saw a lot of runners with broken shoes where the foam of their Nike gave up in the run, and some finished bear foot.

Managing the heat was a challenge. I thought my experience running in Singapore was enough, but I learned the hard way that it goes beyond that.

If you are considering running Singapore Marathon 2023 and it’s your first time running 42km, be prepared for this. Either go for a 21km race or review thoroughly your pace and estimation time, because it will push your limits.

Conclusion #

For my first marathon in a hot country, I feel Singapore is a great place to race. I enjoyed it as much as I could, even if I couldn’t complete my goal, but it taught me a few things I could work on.

It prepared me better to accomplish it on my next one in Seoul.

Congratulations to all Singapore Marathon 2022 runners 👏