Elite runners rediscover winning feeling with StanChart Singapore Marathon titles
Rose Chelimo knows what it takes to win, having won the 2018 Asian Games and 2017 IAAF World Championships marathon titles.
But the euphoria of being at the top of the podium has eluded her for five years – her last victory was at the Asiad in Jakarta while she finished second at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
Not any more. Chelimo, 34, who is Kenyan by birth but switched to represent Bahrain in 2015, rediscovered the winning feeling on Dec 3 by triumphing in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) women’s marathon.
She crossed the tape at the National Stadium in 2hr 37min 19sec, ahead of Kenyan Beatrice Jelagat Cherop (2:37:35) and Meseret Dinke of Ethiopia (2:37:50).
In the male category, David Barmasai Tumo, 34, ensured that Kenya’s stranglehold continued as he finished first in 2:14:16, ahead of compatriots Geoffrey Birgen (2:14:31) and Anderson Seroi (2:16:00).
The men’s race has been won by a Kenyan since the 2002 SCSM.
With the event returning in 2023 as a World Athletics Gold Label race, Chelimo and Tumo each claimed a winners’ cheque of US$30,000 (S$40,000) for as the international elite race winners.
Chelimo said: “I am very happy to be the winner. The weather was hot and it was humid but I tried my best. This is my first win since 2018 so I am very very happy about it.”
She explained she had taken a break from the sport after giving birth in 2021 and returned a year later.
A third-placed finish at the Rotterdam Marathon in April had given her hope that she was returning to form. She believed in herself even when results did not go her way – she did not finish the marathon at August’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
She said: “I knew I will be back (at the top of the podium). If you train hard, you will come back and be strong. There were challenges. To cut the weight is hard but you just need to keep training. Today, I am very happy and I feel confident.”
Tumo, who finished sixth here at the 2018 edition, said: “The truth is that the Jakarta win gave me motivation again. I wanted to come here and do my best again.
“The pandemic stopped everything for me in terms of running but now that everything is back to normal, I am competing and racing again. Today shows that my training is going well, I am very motivated by it.”
He was not the only runner filled with a sense of thrill and accomplishment after completing the 42.195km race, which began at the F1 Pit Building and went through the Central Business District past iconic landmarks like Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer.
It was flagged off by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, following a 15-minute delay from its 4.30am start. Organisers said that the decision was taken to give more participants time to make it to the start pen following a traffic incident on a major expressway had caused some congestion.
Lee Pei Yuan, 26, who ran the half-marathon, enjoyed the finish being at the National Stadium, a first for the event at the SCSM.
He said: “It was a really fun first experience and I loved the highly charged atmosphere. I thought the race route was pretty well planned out as the latter part of the route coincided with the sunrise and that was quite beautiful.”
The three-day SCSM drew 44,000 participants, beginning with the Kids Dash on Dec 1 which saw more than 5,000 parents and children while the sold-out 5km and 10km categories welcomed 17,000 runners on Dec 2.