It was the mother of all distance races in Singapore. It was the one event our Operation Sunbird runners spent 12 weeks of structured training preparing ourselves for – The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2012.
The group gathered early at the Shaw House area to huddle for the start, as well as take the customary pre-race group photos with the Christmas lights as backdrop. With a slightly smaller field, this year’s pre-race organization was an improvement in important areas such as baggage handling, race pen control and marshaling to the start points.
Many of the Sunbirds were real early, all having the race jitters as they tackled their maiden marathons and half marathons, while others were aiming for better performances after all the hard work and commitment they have put into the Sunbird marathon training.
The Full Marathon Sunbirds proceeded to the start line at 4:20am, and were in position by 4:30am. We could see the official pacers with their brightly colored balloons right in front. The Kenyan elites were seen shuttling up and down, while the local elites were lined up at the front.
The race started promptly at 5:00am without too much of a fanfare, and soon we were into our paces following our respective pacer groupings.
The morning air was rather cool. The pathway was a lot more spacious this time round, making it less congested and easier to settle into the groove. The water stations could do with a longer stretch though. The first 10km went by pretty nicely as we settled into our target paces. We gave encouragement to fellow Sunbirds, FatBirds and familiar faces as we proceeded with our respective race plans.
The Pace Groups found their rhythm and settled into target pace by the 17km mark in ECP. The toilets were a blessing as some bloated runners made a dash for a quick release while the others continued on with their steady paces. On the other side of the path, the first Kenyans were well on their way back towards the finish line, with the local elites giving one another a good run for the money. We were stoked by their fluid and speedy styles that we were almost tempted to go off pace to quicken things.
The Half-Marathon went by as planned, and we were glad to get to Fort Road at 28km as we would be on our final stretch. The goal was to survive the ‘mentally challenging’ Gardens By The Bay East stretch, and then hit the 35km mark with the paces being maintained. Shotz gels were provided generously along the way, and together with the bananas, they served as our continued ‘power’ for the final push.
We were warmly supported by FatBird and SAFRA stations, along with rousing cheers from SgRunners and BMW, the final 8-10km was made more bearable although that would be the normal point of ‘hitting the wall’ and slowing down.
Partly because of the cooler weather this time round, we were able to sustain the run all the way to HeartBreak Bridge, with a final 4km to go. Our Sunbirds (who had our fair share of slopes and hills training) were seen to be tacking the hills well, where other less prepared runners were struggling and walking up.
Once the Heartbreak Bridge was overcome, we had to contend with the ‘human wall’ of 10km runners converging towards the Singapore flyer towards the Esplanade. This was the stretch which slowed us down dramatically as there were just too many walkers abreast, making overtaking near impossible. We decided to give off a few minutes and slow jogged to the finish, but still making it within our target timings.
The finish was crowded with the FM runners sharing the same finish path as the 10km runners. The finisher tee was a nice improvement from past year’s but the finisher medal seemed to be a tad smaller. The Cheer teams was a standout at this year’s race, and we were awed by the enthusiasm of the volunteers who clapped and cheered for the finishers as we claimed our hard-earned finisher medals and tees.
The Padang was chock-full of finishers, making it rather difficult to meetup. Fortunately we had designated a meeting point nearby to welcome our finishing Sunbirds, many whom have done so well to achieve massive PBs and excellent run performances. There were lots of excitement as the finishing runners came through with stories of their 42.195km and 21.1km journeys, and how they overcame obstacles along the way to achieve their sterling report card.
With the online, realtime tracking available this year, the results were immediately known and we were able to track our fellow runners’ whereabouts and timings on the course. We were pleased with what we heard of the results, showing that the Sunbirds reaped a good harvest from all their hard work and dedication during the 12-weeks of structured marathon training.
Team Fatbird would like to congratulate all our runners for outdoing themselves and achieving the well regarded Marathoner accolade. Three Cheers to all Sunbirds, and may your continuing marathon journey be ever bright and full of excitement.
We now look forward to post-race get-together over BBQ and drinks, and many more war stories and battle exchanges to be shared.
Operation Sunbird 2012 – Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!
Photo Credits: FatBirds CK Chin, Ronnie Goh, Ivan Lau, Kevin Auyong
Video Credits: FatBird Joe Tan
Operation Sunbird website: https://www.opssunbird.com