01 December, 2013 Gloria Lin Participants dressing up as Power Rangers in Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2013.(Photo by Voxsports) In a nation jam-packed with running events the year round, it may be hard to stand out. But if there’s one race that doe not need to try, it is definitely the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. Having started with just 6,000 participants some 11 years ago, the event holds a Gold Label status with the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF). This puts the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on equal standing with elite races like the New York and the London marathons. This year’s iconic edition saw more than 54,000 runners competing in the following categories: the Marathon / Ekiden beginning at Orchard, the Half Marathon beginning at Sentosa, and 10km / 10km Wheelchair beginning at the Esplanade. There was also a 750-metres kids’ dash that started at the Esplanade with more than 4,000 children taking part. Despite starting way before the crack of dawn at around 5 am, the event not only saw high profile international runners from across the globe but also Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, participating as the first man of the six-person Ekiden race. Posting on his Facebook page before the flag off, Mr Wong said,“I look forward to joining the youth from our SportCares Foundation to run the Standard Chartered marathon together this Sunday morning.” Together with SportCares members, Mr Wong completed the full marathon route, with each of them finishing around 7 km. Acting Minister Wong (in blue sash) kicking off at the starting line, as the first man of the six-person Ekiden race. As for the top guns emerging from the competition, Luka Chelimo Kipkemoi took the men’s title in a surprise win to many. The top female runner from Kenya, Sharon Cherop claimed victory this time following her 2012 Boston Marathon win. Luka, who is also from Kenya, clocked a time of 2 hours 14 minutes 59 seconds. Having not been one of the elite runners identified prior to the race, his win shocked many - including himself. “The weather was okay, it wasn’t as humid”, comparing his win to his previous Marathon Singapore experience back in 2011, He took a break from the marathon last year after sustaining a muscle injury. His personal best is 2 hours 10 minutes 11 seconds in 2010 in Chuncheon, South Korea, at the Chuncheon International Marathon. For Sharon, it was a story of first time lucky as she burst through the finish line less than a second before Ethiopia’s Debre Godana, coming home in 2 hours 41 minutes 11 seconds. It is Sharon’s debut win in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. “When I started to sprint, the other runners started to drop out,” she says, of the last few moments before her victorious crossing. “They were not able to catch up, so I told myself that if I’m able to go full speed, I’ll be able to get the victory.” For ordinary runners, the race was an opportunity to bond while keeping fit. “We’re really happy about the run,” says Margaret Marcos, who attended the 10km run with her boss and colleagues from Samsung Construction. “I think organisation-wise it was done very well and it’s good that everyone was so supportive.” Her boss, Jason Bak, added, “I just started running three months ago and I’m just following them here... and enjoying myself.” For the more seasoned participants who run on a regular basis, the marathon was a good chance to stay in shape and condition themselves for the next race. “I’m here to challenge myself and to become better from the last run,” says Aileen, who is in her 40s and attributes running two to three times a week to her youthful appearance. Having taken part with her “running buddy” Annie Low, she also was satisfied at the flow of the event. “The logistics were so well planned out and there was no chaos.” Annie, who brought along her 14 years old daughter for the first time, agreed, ”We run so many runs, and this is one of the better organised.” For runners who woke up early to take part in the grueling race, attention given to details throughout the run was always appreciated, like the supporters spread out along the race route. On completing the race Nili was grateful for the support she had, “I enjoyed the cheerleaders and the motivation that they gave me!” Stilt walkers roam the open space where runners mingled after the run, entertaining them at the end of a morning of exercise.