No joy in finishing '2nd'

SINGAPORE- He had just run the race of his life. But more than an hour after crossing the finishing line as the second-best local runner at yesterday's Standard Chartered Marathon, what should have been jubilation for trainee teacher Alex Ong turned to despair.

The 26-year-old was told by the race organisers that his 2hr 54min 57sec effort would count for nought as he had been disqualified - since his running chip was not detected at several checkpoints along the 42.195km route.

Ong's time, a personal best, was just shy of national marathoner Mok Ying Ren's 2:54:18, which saw him winning the Marathon Singapore men's category.

Said Ong: "It's not easy to finish second. I was lucky that Ashley (Liew, last year's winner) didn't take part, and that I was in good form today. Even if they do reinstate me, I'd have missed the chance to enjoy my first SCMS podium finish."

Ong, who finished seventh in last year's edition and fifth the year before, has his fair share of accolades. In October, he won the 31.5km Pokka Sports Water Tri-Factor Run in 2:04:47. He also finished third in June's Sundown Marathon in 2:57:16 - a race he won last year.

Ong was not the only top runner disqualified.

Said Derek Li, who thought he finished sixth with 3:06.21: "It's disappointing because I suffered cramps at the 32km mark, and had to really push myself during the last 10km. It's also my best timing in Singapore."

Both men have appealed against their disqualification. Event organiser Spectrum Worldwide confirmed it has received two appeals, and that investigations are ongoing.

There was a further mix-up when Tam Chua Puh was initially announced as the male Singaporean winner. He was later disqualified for also not clearing the stipulated checkpoints. Mok's victory was confirmed only more than an hour after he completed the race.

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