She tasted success at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) – in the year 2013, when she became the champion in the 42.195km Full Marathon Women’s Open Category.
This year though, professional marathoner Sharon Cherop, 31, from Kenya, remains modest about her chances of clinching the win again – despite the fact that she is the hot favourite in the women’s race.
She is a seasoned marathon runner
Sharon is a seasoned marathoner, having experienced victory at reputable marathons around the world. These included the Hamburg Marathon in 2010 and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Canada – setting the fastest-ever marathon time on Canadian soil in the process.
Said Sharon, “I am going to try my best to win the SCMS again, but it will be a tough one with so many fast runners here and lots of stiff competition from my colleagues. Everyone will be targeting the win. However, that said though, I think that I am as ready as I can be – my training has been going really well.”
Singapore is not a place to run fast timings
She added, “But Singapore though, is not a place where you can run very fast because of the humidity. If you start too fast, this can really destroy you in the later stages of this race. It is really important to listen to your own body and see how it reacts as you are running, especially in Singapore’s climate.”
But then again, Sharon adds that she will be in the same boat as her fellow competitors in the Elite Open category, so it will be all about who adapts to the Singapore climate better.
Sharon had been one of the elite marathoners at a press conference for the SCMS this afternoon – at Conrad Centennial Hotel. And in the women’s race, she will be up against marathon debutante Doris Changewyo, 30, also hailing from Kenya.
Nervous about taking on the marathon distance for the first time
This may be Doris’ first crack at the 42.195km distance. But she is a fast and strong runner, having completed the half marathon (21.1km) distance in 69 minutes.
Said Doris, “This is my first marathon and I am quite nervous. It will be something that’s completely new to me, so my aim is just to try and finish. I just want to do my best and I am not going for timing.”
Also competing for the SGD60,000 prize money in the Women’s Open race will be Volha Mazuronok of Belarus and Olena Burkovska of Ukraine. Volha has a personal best of 2 hours 25 minutes 36 seconds, which was recorded at this year’s London Marathon. Olena, on the other hand, has a personal best of 2 hours 27 minutes and 7 seconds in the 42.195km distance.
For Sharon, her personal best is 2 hours 22 minutes and 28 seconds, which was clocked at the 2013 Berlin Marathon.
Eager to clinch the top prize at SCMS
In the Men’s Open 42.195km race, the hot favourite for first place and the SGD60,000 prize money is Evans Cheruiyot, 33, also from Kenya. Having recorded a personal best timing of 2 hours 6 minutes and 25 seconds at the Chicago Marathon in 2008, Evans will be eager to clinch the top prize at Singapore’s marquee running event.
Said Evans, “It’s great to be in Singapore, a beautiful and vibrant city. The route takes us through so many iconic landmarks so I am looking forward to the race on Sunday. The field is of the highest calibre so I need to make sure that I get my strategy right to be in with a chance of winning.”
Evans will be up against other experienced marathoners such as his fellow countryman Philemon Gitia Baaru, who has a personal best of 2 hours 7 minutes and 49 seconds, as well as Ethiopian runner Gezahgn Girma Beyenne, who has a recorded personal best over the 42.195km distance, of 2 hours 7 minutes 41 seconds.
SCMS is the marquee running event in Singapore for last year’s Champion
The local men’s race last year was won by Mok Ying Ren, 27, who will be defending his crown this weekend. And he will be up against fellow Singaporean Ramesh Palaniandy, who came third last year and is eager to fight Mok for the crown.
Said Ramesh, “SCMS is the marquee running event in Singapore, the race I look the most forward to every year. With SG50, the 2015 edition is extra special and I am going all out to achieve a new personal best along the route. I have enjoyed the Golden Jubilee celebrations and this will be a fitting end to the year for me, as a passionate runner.”
In the women’s local race, the challenge will be spearheaded by Rachel See, who finished with a timing of 3 hours 17 minutes and 13 seconds in last year’s SCMS event. To win the title, she will battle it out against other illustrious local marathoners such as Neo Jie Shi and Mok Ying Rong.
Spectrum WorldWide is looking forward to a fitting finale to Singapore’s Jubilee Year
Chris Robb, CEO of Spectrum WorldWide (the race organisers), is excited about the level of competition at the SCMS this year. He said, “I think that we have got a strong field again this year, with a winner of the Chicago Marathon as well as a former winner of the SCMS running in the race, so we are all excited by it. It will be anyone’s guess at who will win this year.”
Added Chris, “At the same time, we are looking forward to one of the biggest weekends in Singapore’s annual sporting calendar and what I’m sure will be a very fitting finale to Singapore’s Golden Jubilee Year. We’re delighted with the number of people (almost 50,000) who have registered to take part in Singapore’s largest mass running event, which shows that the nation’s appreciation of SCMS remains undiminished.”
Runners can look forward to plenty of new initiatives
Besides rubbing shoulders with the elite runners at the starting line, the thousands of Singaporeans who have signed up to run in the race, can also look forward to a number of new initiatives that we have implemented this year.”
Some of these intriguing initiatives include high-energy music being played by live bands stationed along the 21.1km and 42.195km routes, as well as the Kids Dash being a stand-alone event taking place on Saturday morning – for the first time.
Said Chris, “A lot of runners like to listen to music and we thought that it was very inspirational and up-lifting. So we thought, why don’t we spend some of our entertainment money on live music to encourage the runners. After all it is not uncommon for sporting events to have a significant amount of entertainment along the route.”
Improvements and safety measures for 2015
Robb also added that besides these interesting initiatives, some improvements and safety measures have been added to the race such as more hydration stations as well as – for the first time – having a banana station along the 21.1km route.
He said “The extra aid stations along the race routes will ensure that we do not run out of water to cater to the runners, especially those towards the back of the pack. The cut-offs implemented will also be stricter, we we will divert runners who are not likely to reach the finishing line on time.”
Continued Chris, “Diverted runners will not receive the tee and the finisher medal – we have listened to feedback from last year and so this year, there will be a mechanism in place to mark their bib. They will receive their drink and banana, though.”
Advice that the organiser has for the runners
With two more days to go now before SCMS, what advice does Chris have for the runners taking part? He said, “From now till race day, rest well and hydrate yourself and carbo load if it works for you. Carbo loading is effective for some runners but not others, though. The most important thing is to be hydrated especially at the starting line, but don’t over-hydrate as doing so dilutes the salts in your body – it is very important to get the balance right.”
Continued Chris, “And during the race, run sensibly and within your capabilities. Every runner wants to finish but if you are feeling sick or unwell at any point into the race, then it’s better to listen to your body. Even if you have trained for this for months, it’s better to take a step back and stay healthy – there is no point putting yourself in the hospital for the sake of a race. You can always take part in SCMS and finish it next year.”
But most importantly though, Chris advises all runners taking part, to simply have fun, no matter what. He said, “Come down and enjoy yourself regardless of whether you run a Personal Best. We want you to soak up the sights and hope that everyone has a fantastic day.”