Friends of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. A very good morning.
2. Over the years, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) has captured the hearts of runners across Singapore. We call it the People's Race, because it continues to attract scores of people and brings the community together on a Sunday morning to enjoy sport. Vision 2030 registered the importance of compelling sporting events for people wanting to enjoy leisure time with family and friends.
3. Singapore's marathon, which Standard Chartered Bank has sponsored for the last 11 years is Singapore's pinnacle running event. It has grown from strength to strength since 2002 where we had 6,000 runners, to today where 53,000 runners will weave through the streets of Singapore as part of an annual ritual on the 1st Sunday of December every year.
4. From pioneering the concept of being the first running event to run through iconic landmarks in Singapore, the SCMS has never stood still and has set the benchmark and gold standard for running events in Singapore.
5. We are happy that the standard and quality of many other running events today have improved and runners today have a buffet of events to choose from that cater to various niches such as women, night races and ultra long distances.
6. We are also happy that our efforts have not gone unnoticed. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) conferred the SCMS the Gold Label certification last year, making us the only event in Singapore that can stand proudly alongside world class marathons such as the London, New York and Berlin marathons.
7. In the relentless pursuit of excellence, we did an environment scan of where Singapore?s marathon was and is today as well as considered the growing number of running events with their unique offerings.
8. We acknowledge that to become a world class race, we must focus on quality over quantity. While there was an effort to increase the number of runners over the years, we made a deliberate decision this year to stop growing the number of participants. In our planning, we envisaged that a number between 50,000 to 60,000 was the sweet spot. In addition to the reduced numbers, our race routes this year have also been refined to tackle specific troubled spots along the route last year. My colleagues will share the race route with you later.
9. With a reduction in numbers, and a much smoother route, we then asked ourselves how we could take the event to the next level on the world stage. The best marathons around the world are remembered for their unique identities.
10. The London marathon is famous for its fancy dress participants and being one of the largest fundraising events in the UK. The event has raised over 450 million pounds for charity since 1981 and holds the Guinness world record as the largest annual fund raising event in the world. One of the best aspects of the Berlin marathon is its uniquely international flavour with participants from over 100 countries and two day programme. For the New York marathon, in addition to the picturesque running routes, the race route is electrifying with more than 100 live bands stationed at regular intervals along the course to motivate and entertain participants and spectators alike. All three marathons enjoy spectacular spectator support, with all races usually seeing around a million cheering spectators on race day every year.
11. For Singapore, the SCMS is the largest running event during the festive season so we decided that extending the festive cheer into our event is a way to distinguish ourselves. We have close to 4,500 overseas runners this year, and by building on the festive theme, we hope the international stature of our marathon will grow even further from year to year.
12. On race day, you will see volunteers and organisers decked in festive costumes and accessories, hear festive music performances along the running route and be able to participate in best dressed festive themed runners competitions. These are just some of the things runners and supporters can look forward to at this year's marathon. There are also other programmes that will enhance the experience along the running route, which my colleague will share with you later. We can expect the festive theme to grow in significance as we continue to build this unique identity for our marathon over the years.
13. In closing, we would like to thank our loyal customers over the years for their enthusiastic response to the SCMS. Your enthusiasm has spurred us on to continuously innovate, improve and strive to be among the best.
14. See you at the start line on 2nd December. As vision 2030 encourages us: Live Better Through Sport!