Nick Leong, from Kuala Lumpur (KL), had heard about the 100 $1 race slots and the free Adidas limited edition shoes being given away at the public launch of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS). So he immediately rushed over the causeway yesterday to join the queue for a race slot. This was despite the fact that public registrations for the race only started today at 11am.
Leong, a 39-year-old Senior Accounts Executive, explained, “I took the coach at 8am and reached Ion Orchard at about 2pm, yesterday. I had tried to come quickly to avoid a long queue”.
“I was actually expecting more people when I reached Ion Orchard, I was quite surprised that I managed to squeeze into the top 10,” he added.
Whiling away the hours
So what did Leong and his fellow runners do to while away the hours, all the way from 2pm yesterday till 11am today?
“I tried to rest as much as possible. And it was too bad I didn’t bring my cards as we could have played card games,” Leong said.
Added 20-year-old Republic Poly student Venice Ng, “The whole night was like a runners’ community for us. We had lots of food to fuel our night. We did midnight chatting and also caught up on some sleep.”
Some found it hard to fall asleep
Leong admitted that while the bonding and community vibe was great, he found it quite hard to fall asleep, though.
“Actually, I don’t think anyone could sleep so well, but at least I managed to get a bit so I’m not too tired now. But generally, I am the kind of person who can only sleep in my own bed,” Leong added.
Others managed to get a good night’s rest
However, some of the other runners in the queue had actually managed to get a good night’s rest.
For 23-year-old NTU student Eric Ooi, it was actually quite easy to drift off. He said, “It was quite nice for me to sleep, actually. I brought my sleeping bag and a small pillow. I was lucky that there was a heating pipe on the floor so it was quite warm.
“But sleeping outside Ion Orchard is still not as good as sleeping at home on my bed though,” Ooi quickly added.
Seeing Orchard Road in a different light
Nevertheless, 31-year-old fitness instructor and charity runner Gerrard Lin saw the positives of spending the night “homeless” at Orchard Road. The marathon runner, who is better known as Ah Siao, said, “Well, at least we get to see Orchard in a different light but there was no chance to bathe.”
Lin added, “You also get to look at people fighting for their place and have small arguments. It’s actually quite interesting.”
“As well, I also gave advice to some runners with injury and showed them exercises to do to alleviate these. It’s actually quite a fun experience, I suppose,” said Lin.
Making friends with strangers
Agreed 23-year-old fire-fighter Edil Fitri, “It’s fun because you get to talk to, and make friends with strangers. This isn’t my first time queuing overnight though – I actually used to queue for National Day Parade tickets, so today’s experience brings back happy memories for me.”
Added 29-year-old engineer Shiva Raj, “The only problem that I had today was people who jumped queue. But apart from that, it would otherwise have been a perfect experience.”
Would not hesitate to queue again
And because of these positive memories, many of these runners would not hesitate to repeat the queuing experience. Said Ng, “Yes, I would definitely queue overnight again because it’s fun and you get to meet a lot of people!
“This experience is like no other. I thought it would be boring. I brought books, but in the end, I didn’t even read anything because we were chatting and talking to each other so much.”
Fellow runner Genevieve Wijaya, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, said that she would also join the queue again next year. She said, “I was actually running a fever and I woke up shivering, but I came down here, because it’s an annual affair for me to queue for SCMS. Of course though, I made sure that I was not contagious before I came down – and I’m actually feeling much better now.”
Would rather “outsource” the queuing
But for Ah Siao though, the toll that the queuing had taken on his body was a bit too much for him.
He quipped, “A 30-year-old should not do what a 15-year-old does! Maybe next year, I will outsource the queuing to poor students with a lot of time to spare and 15-year-olds who like to sleep on hard floors!”
Priority+ Slots and Online Registrations
Besides the 100 $1 race slots that were quickly snapped up by these runners, the launch event of the SCMS also offered 1,250 Priority+ slots exclusively to those who registered at the Ion Orchard road show. As of 3pm today, more than 800 participants had booked their race slots – worth from $15 to $65, depending on the category entered.
Prior to the launch event, online registrations had been opened last week to past participants and StanChart cardholders – and the response to those has been very good. In fact, all of the 5,500 online Priority+ slots were snapped up within two days.
More than 20,000 runners will enjoy discounted race registration fees this year.
Said Chris Robb, the Managing Director of race organisers Spectrum Worldwide, “We have had almost 10,000 runners who have already signed up for the event online. This is a testament to the sheer appeal of the event and its standing within the running community of Singapore.”
Engaging running communities in Singapore
Robb added, “So this year, we have also decided to engage running communities across the wider community of Singapore. So we will have five community road-shows across Singapore, with more Priority+ slots on offer.” There will be 250 Priority+ slots available at each road-show.
According to the Managing Director, these five road-shows will be staged in the Eastern, North-East, Central, North and Western parts of Singapore, to create a friendly sense of rivalry amongst Singaporeans living in Singapore’s different districts.
Ambassadors selected to represent each running district
Five official #TEAMSCMS ambassadors have also been selected to represent each of these running districts. They are from all ages and walks of life and range from a chef to a Paralympian and YouTube celebrity.
Representing the North district is Paralympian swimmer Theresa Goh, who has flown Singapore’s colours at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. She will be taking part in the 10km Wheelchair category at the StanChart Marathon.
Said Goh, “I am honoured that they chose me and I hope to be able to carry this role of ambassador well, as it’s my first time doing so. But I think it’s good that the ambassadors embody different groups in Singapore and that helps to make everyone feel involved.”
“I hope to be able to reach out to the disability sports community. I want others to be inspired by me, to try out for StanChart or even another running event, to get active.”
Fellow district ambassador Dr JiaJia also hopes to inspire other runners out there through his participation in the 750m Kids Dash. The eight-year-old student at Maha Bodhi School, whose real name is Chua Jin Sen, shot to fame for his wildly popular and entertaining YouTube videos.
Added Dr JiaJia, who is representing the East district, “This is my first time doing the SCMS and I am really looking forward to it. I am going to train hard and I want to do well – to inspire other runners.”
The other district ambassadors are celebrity chef, Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre (Central), Zouk’s Head of Business Development and PR, Sofie Chandra (North-East) and SportsCares CareRunner Abdul Thaslim (West).
The launch event closed at 4pm today. But if you wish to sign up for SCMS, you may do so online or at the community launches. Find out more at http://www.marathonsingapore.com
Check out more of my photos from the launch event at my Facebook page here.