Singapore, no matter how you put it, no matter when you run—day or night, January or July—is hot and humid. And that is of course not ideal to aim for a marathon PB or break a world record, right?
Maybe so, but the island city-state may soon become an Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) course alongside Boston, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Berlin and London. In coordination with the Chinese private conglomerate Wanda Group last year, the AbbottWMM agreed to a 10-year strategic partnership to potentially develop three new events to add to the series. As part of this agreement, they were tasked with identifying current races that met the requirements of potential inclusion in the series.
“The World Marathon Majors is a very European and U.S.-centric organization. In order to expand and truly create the global series that they want, they need to expand in areas where they do not yet have a presence, such as Asia,” said Ironman Managing Director for Asia Geoff Meyer.
So why the Singapore Marathon? For starters, it’s one of the most well-organized urban destinations and is extremely clean and safe. The international hub is also easy to reach from anywhere in the world (albeit a long flight from the U.S. and Europe) and has a great public transportation system so travelers can effortlessly navigate its neighborhoods.
“What the World Marathon Majors wants is a truly global city, with all the amenities: hotels, an international airport and all the other modern city infrastructures,” says Meyer. “Singapore has a long history of flawless organizations…the best airport in the world and the level of efficiency you find inside of it applies to everything else in the city. In Singapore, basically everything works. And that is why the city definitely ticks those required boxes in all those areas.”
However, there is still much to be considered before dubbing Singapore the next AbbottWMM city in 2020. “Singapore is a great international destination with a passion for sports and it has seen a huge increase in the popularity of running over the last few years,” says Tim Hadzima, Executive Director for the AbbottWMM. “But there are still areas that need to be improved for the Singapore Marathon to reach our requirements. With the right government support and buy-in from the city, the potential is certainly there to make it a very unique and appealing race for marathon runners from around the world.”
Aside from the expected long-term procedure, as well as the strict set of criteria to be met for any new marathon, what really seems to be the main issue right now is the lack of local government support. If it’s added to the AbbottWMM’s prestigious list of 26.2-mile races, the growth and notoriety of the race may disrupt the current peace and fluidity of the city.
“Singapore works very much on this ideology: Singapore for Singaporeans. All of New York City, or London for that matter, basically shuts down for the marathon. There are pros and cons for the local people on a race day like this,” says Meyer. “But Singapore works on a different level. Every single complaint, or inconvenience to a Singaporean resident, is taken very seriously.”
Even so, Meyer believes that Singapore should be included in the lineup thanks to its already successful race bringing thousands of people to its streets each year. “If I look at the rest of Asia, they’re all coming to Singapore, they know that Singapore is the biggest and best marathon in the region, so we’re getting great numbers from across Asia to come here as well,” says Meyer.
“We’re not going to be a Berlin or London that is basically about world records—and I don’t think we want to be—it’s too hot, too humid from that perspective,” Meyer continues. “We’ve increased the prize money from $160K up to nearly $500K this year. So we’re serious about bringing the world’s best.”
Only time will tell if we’ll soon be adding Singapore to our list of majors to compete at, but with so much in the air currently, we’re not holding our breath for a decision just yet. Would you race in Singapore in December with temperatures around 85-90 degrees F and 100 percent humidity to get a seventh AbbottWMM medal?