StanChart Marathon 2014: Slower Runners Were Diverted to a Shorter Route

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.

StanChart Marathon Singapore 2014.

StanChart Marathon Singapore 2014 begins.

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.

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  • Harold says:

    I think it’s okay but the organiser shouldn’t have provided a medal at least. The t-shirt can be the consolation at most.

    I wear my finisher tee with pride. And the way others got theirs, full or not, doesn’t change my experience. It’s the journey that counts, at least for me.

  • Kelvin says:

    I disagree to divert. It actually encourage people not to train for a marathon and join the event. They will know that they will get divert and still can finish the race without any training. The spirit of marathon is gone. Why not just follow what Hong Kong Marathon had been doing, just use the sweeper bus and bring them to the gathering end point. It just so simple and you see Hong Kong Marathon is getting more and more popular.

  • Esther says:

    I think there’s no best or only solution. I guess anyone who signed up just need to be adequately prepared but then again, sometimes things happened and you are just not at the good condition to run on that day though you’ve trained for it. I think at the end of the day, it’s really just miscommunication. Maybe organizer should have highlighted on the closing time on specific routes. Or the runners who didn’t complete the marathon could get other consolation items apart instead of the medal/finisher tee. -)

    • Danny says:

      Sure there is no best solution. But there are plenty of better solutions than what StanChart did.

      1) Show cut-off timing for earlier parts of the route clearly

      2) Give finisher items to actual finishers only

      3) Start the races earlier (this year’s flag-off timings are very late compared to other race flag-offs)

      Ultimately, there is no shame in not finishing the 42.1295km. However, there is plenty of shame if one did not complete the full course and yet accepted the finisher items. If SCMS was the one who encouraged this “cheating”, then the people who accepted it were complicit to it. It is not illegal, but unethical.

    • Priscilla says:

      Yes, as a runner we need to be adequately prepared for the race.. but then again, anything can happen in running.

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