At the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) last Sunday, runners who had not been able to make the 13km cut-off checkpoint of the Full Marathon route by 7.30am were diverted by race officials, to a shorter route.
As a result, these runners did not complete the full 42.195km and ended up running about 25km. But at the end of their run, they still received the finisher tee shirt and medal.
Some runners were unhappy with the diversion decision
This created plenty of discussion amongst the local running community.
Said manager Doreen Tan, 35, “There shouldn’t be any short cuts or re-routes just to complete the marathon. It wouldn’t be fair to other runners who ran the complete route. If re-routing is necessary because of the cut-off time, these runners do not deserve the medal and finisher tee.”
Norliza Noordin, a 42-year-old executive, also agreed that the diversion was unfair. She said, “It’s not fair to other runners for the organizer to re-route the back markers. They (the diverted runners) ran shorter distance, but were able to still get to collect the medal and finisher tee. They should be swept back by bus instead of running a shorter route.
Norliza added that she herself was hit with ITB syndrome whilst running the full marathon and she decided to drop out of the race at the 28km mark. “I didn’t even claim my medal nor finisher tee. So does that mean I can produce my split timing, which stops at 25km, and claim my medal?” she asked.
A marathon is all about the trials, tribulations and experience
For entrepreneur Hoe Zong Huan, 30, running a marathon is all about experiencing and going through the trials and tribulations that come along with it.
He said, “When you run a marathon, it is all about the joys of experiencing the full journey and completing the distance. So re-routing runners defeats the purpose of singing up for the 42km run. Those who were re-routed to run a shorter race would also not be able to clock the mileage of 42km, so their dreams and hopes of running and completing a full marathon would be dashed.”
Race organizer didn’t have a choice
However, other runners though, believed that the race organizer didn’t have much of a choice, with roads having to be opened up at a specific time.
Said Leon Lim, 34, an IT consultant, “The organizer has no other alternatives. The road cannot be closed for too long until the last runner has completed the race. It will disrupt traffic and make commuting difficult.”
Agreed Yeow Lai Boon, a 49-year-old sales assistant, “Come to think of it, a diversion isn’t too bad. If the diversions allow the runners to run the full course, it will be better. But sometimes it may not be possible due to the nature of the race route.”
Diverting runners is better than asking them to board a bus
For Jeffrey Leong, a 55-year-old production supervisor, he felt that diverting the runners, rather than asking them to board a sweeper bus, is better for the morale and motivation of the slower runners.
Added Leong, “To stop their race and send them to the race site by bus, it will shame them when they alight from the bus. But to let them continue their run, it will be a safety concern if the road has opened up.”
Decision to divert slower runners should be made clear to all participants
However, 39-year-old civil servant Hafsah Binte Abdullah pointed out that such official decisions, such as re-routing slower runners who fail to make certain checkpoints, should be made clear to the runners when they sign up for the race.
She said, “Sweeping is done for many races due to compliance with road reopening. It would be good to make such arrangements known and it has to be as clear as possible too, so there will be no misunderstandings. However, the timing of runners who got diverted, should not be recorded, to give due respect to runners who completed the race.”
Be adequately prepared to run a marathon
In short, runners feel that people who sign up for a marathon should ensure that they are adequately prepared.
Said Keegan Chua, a 29-year-old senior IT sales executive, “If it is so easy to complete, it would not be called a marathon. Besides, it diminishes the spirit of completing a 42.195km marathon if runners are officially allowed to take a shorter route.”
Added freelance worker Jaijendra Prasad, 33, “After all, everyone who runs or participates in a marathon has their goals or reasons, and it is not for anyone to judge them.”
Sports spirit is also important
And Yap Teck Hooi, a 32-year-old senior cost management controller, added that a marathon is all about being true to the nature of sports and friendly competition. “As a runner, you should also follow the rules and regulations of sports events. Of course though, the organizer can’t avoid cases where participants intentionally choose to cheat though,” he added.