SINGAPORE - The National Stadium played host to more than 20,000 participants of The Straits Times Run at the Hub on Sunday morning, the first mass-running event to end under the stadium's iconic dome roof.
Participants had gathered as early as 4.30am to get the best slots for the 21km and 10km routes, which took runners past some of the city's most iconic landmarks like the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By the Bay.
By 5.30am, Nicoll Highway was transformed into a sea of blue as more than 5,000 21km runners got the event underway. The run's biggest group, almost 10,000 strong, were the next to set off at 6.30am.
Guest-of-honour Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong was on hand to flag-off the 5km race, before the party started in the race village inside the stadium.
While local acts like pop-rock band 53A and former ChildAid performer Sophia Joe treated the crowd to a host of popular tunes, the Urban Street Team freestylers, accompanied by national footballers Isa Halim, Izwan Mahbud and Gabriel Quak thrilled with their nifty footwork.
The post-race carnival also had surprise treats for participants. Prizes were given out to runners who posed for instant photos with friends while making a personal pledge to protect the environment. AirAsia also gave out goodies, in the form of flight vouchers to Xi'an and Nagoya for the best pictures taken a specially-constructed AirAsia cockpit.
Said The Straits Times Editor Warren Fernandez: "The Sports Hub and the National Stadium will become a rallying point for Singaporeans who want to adopt a healthy lifestyle. We felt it was the perfect venue to host the ST Run this year and we were glad that so many people got to experience the thrill of finishing a race inside this wonderful arena, cheered on by a mini Kallang Roar."
Some of the loudest cheers were reserved for the winners in the competitive categories.
Kenyan James Kemboi topped the men's 21km category in a time of 1hr 10min 39sec. National runner Colin Tung was the best Singaporean finisher in fourth spot (1:15:43).
Belgian student Vanja Cnops came in first for the women's 21km section in 1:26:27, some six minutes ahead of second-placed Rachel See. Nepal's Shiva Rai took the men's 10km crown (35:30), while Kenyan Valentine Serem claimed the women's honours (38:59).
The ST Run at the Hub is part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers programme, an ongoing effort to reach out and better connect with readers and the community and provide them with experiences exclusive to only The Straits Times readers.
For example, when Brazil play Japan at the National Stadium on Oct 14, ST readers will get to enjoy privileges that no one else will get.
During the World Cup Finals in Brazil, ST readers also got a taste of the action first-hand.
The ST Run at the Hub is the second run organised by The Straits Times. The inaugural ST Run, which drew more than 12,000 participants, was held at the scenic Punggol Waterway last year.