Race Review - Sundown Half Marathon Singapore
Can Sleep Wait?
By Markus Gnirck
For the third time in a row I entered the Sundown Half Marathon, this time however to pace a friend of mine, and not go for a personal best like the previous years. I guess that allowed me to observe the overall race organisation and get my thoughts together about this race.
Before going into details about the actual race, here some key information about the Sundown (Half) Marathon.
The race is flagged off at the F1 Pit Building and takes the runner off to Nicoll Highway to the Kallang Stadium before going on the Marina Bay course with a finish again at the F1 Pit Building. The course has some ups and downs (mostly tunnels and bridges) which one can feel over the distance. Flag off time for both Marathon and Half Marathon was 11.30pm on the Saturday.
More than 25,000 runners participated in this year’s edition which makes it one of the biggest road races in Singapore. The idea of a night race seems to appeal to many local runners.
Now coming to the actual race experience…
While the race is a welcomed alternative to the typical morning road races, the organisation of the race didn’t seem to work out this time. Please note that those issues didn’t exist during the previous years.
To start with, the flag off was delayed by over 15min apparently due to some issues on Nicoll Highway in removing cars from the street. While that is understandable and no one wants to run into fast driving cars, it kept the excited starting field waiting and apparently the waves of slower runners started over 30min late. Additionally, it is strange to flag off Marathon and Half Marathon Runners at the same time as it causes digestions along the way.
The design of the course and the starting times of the different was wasn’t fully thought through. After the first 1.5km and water station, for some reason, the second wave headed straight towards into the first wave, without any barrier in between the runners. That caused a lot of confusion and runners were bashing into each other.
The route around Kallang and the Stadium is quite pleasant, if one doesn’t mind the bridges, tunnels and roundabouts. Those can slow down and bring some elevation into the course. At some point we had to take several stairs to get onto a bridge, which seems weird for a road race.
There were multiple water stops along the way and as we were in the first starting wave, we didn’t encounter any shortage of water. However, many other runners later unfortunately came to water stops where no water was available anymore. Apparently many runners had to queue at public toilets to get hydrated and lost time.
The final stretch of the Half Marathon course took us from Tanjong Ru, to Marina Barrage and Marina Bay Sands & Marina Bay Financial Centre. It did feel pretty cool to run in the night alongside this iconic skyline and hence get a last push for the final kilometers.
Overall, a good experience to run through the night around the landmarks of Singapore. However, the organisation of the event was surprisingly bad for such a big event. That will probably hold many runners back to join again next year.