The Singapore Marathon will continue to run under the banner of Standard Chartered Bank for another three years, but the organisers are promising a different flavour, starting with this year's race on Dec 7.
The organisers are looking into incorporating the new Sports Hub in Kallang into the route of the Republic's marquee running event and holding year-round community engagement activities. They are even contemplating bringing in celebrity names for a touch of glitz.
This was revealed yesterday when StanChart announced its title sponsorship for another three years in a deal worth $10.5 million, an agreement that will bring the bank's support of the event into its 15th year.
The previous three-year deal, worth $9.75 million, ran out after last year's edition.
To include the Sports Hub in the race route, however, the organisers will have to avoid an already packed year-end calendar.
For one thing, the stadium will be the venue of the group stages of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, which begins on Nov 22.
Said Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive of event owner Sport Singapore: "We're looking carefully at 'de-conflicting' some of the bookings (at the National Stadium). It's a decision that's still being debated."
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who was present at the announcement, voiced support for the move to include the Sports Hub in the race.
He said: "I'm not sure what the organisers' present plans are, and a lot of it has to do with managing the logistics of the route. But if they can do that, it'll be great."
The route change is one of the ideas to improve the marathon.
Said Mr Lim: "Do we want to continue down that path or take a slightly different route? Do we want to bring a certain level of celebrity into the race? How would that influence the overall brand of the race?
"It's something that we've been discussing with (event organiser) Spectrum Worldwide and our sponsors. Come July, we'll be ready to announce that."
Having positioned itself as "the people's race", the marathon is likely to take on an even more active role in public engagement.
"We're going to have some exciting announcements over the next few months," said Mr Chris Robb, Spectrum Worldwide's managing director. "This is very much about community and you'll see some things in terms of taking the event to the community on an ongoing basis."
StanChart's Singapore chief executive officer Neeraj Swaroop said: "Marathons, by definition, are community events. We see ourselves as a bank that has to be linked to the community rather than just be there for commercial reasons."
The Singapore race is a "Gold Label" event, a top billing awarded by the International Association of Athletics Federations to a select group of events that includes world-renowned races such as the Boston Marathon.
This article was published on April 22 in The Straits Times.
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