SINGAPORE — Almost 10 years after taking part in his first marathon after overcoming paralysis, para-athlete Dr Zac Leow ran his second marathon race - and achieved his ambition of setting a Guinness world-record time at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) on Sunday (3 December).
On the day of his daughter Mika's second birthday, the 37-year-old exercise scientist emphatically smashed the CI1 (men) para-classification marathon world-record mark of 5hr 30min, completing the 42.195km race in 4hr 51min 59sec and crossing the finish line at the National Stadium - the same place where he had clinched an ASEAN Para Games men's 1,500m (T37) silver medal in 2015.
“It was a struggle to reach the finish line," an emotional Leow said after his race. "I’m thankful that the route is different this year because running past key landmarks rejuvenated me when I struggled.
"I’m from Victoria School, along the East Coast Parkway service road, so when I saw my school during my run, I was reminded of the fighting spirit instilled in us there, and that kept me going.”
This record-breaking marathon run will also be his final race, with doctors advising him against pushing his body's limits due to back pains earlier this year. He will continue running to stay fit - a testament to his fortitude in overcoming paralysis after a bike accident in Perth in 2013.
Soh Rui Yong wins fourth national men's marathon title
Leow's run was one of many personal triumphs at this year's SCSM. Over 44,000 runners - including more than 8,000 international participants from over 70 countries - took to the streets on Sundays, testing their physical limits in both the marathon and the 21.1km half-marathon.
Two-time SEA Games gold medallist Soh Rui Yong clinched his fourth national marathon title at the annual event, clocking 2:40:34 to add to his triumphs from 2017 to 2019 and win the S$10,000 winner's cheque. The 32-year-old finished ahead of Daniel Leow, who clocked 2:48:08 to finish second, while Benjamin Khoo timed in at 2:50:37 in third.
Soh admitted after the race that he was not in tip-top marathon shape yet, having not run a full marathon since setting the national record of 2:22:59 in Valencia in 2021. “It is a nice feeling to be national champion again. I have not run a marathon in two years, so to make a comeback to the marathon in Singapore is very nice," he told The Straits Times.
Soh was the 17th-fastest man in the marathon race on Sunday, as Kenya's David Barmasai Tumo emerged victorious in the Gold Label Elite marathon men's category, clocking a time of 2:14:15. In a Kenyan sweep of the podium, Tumo's compatriots Geoffrey Birgen and Anderson Seroi finished second (2:14:30) and third (2:15:59) respectively.
"Running is my passion," Tumo enthused after his win. "I was aiming to improve my position from my last race here in 2018, and I focused on my agenda and got on track with my training gradually. Today, I’m getting the fruits of that.”
Rachel See wins both national and Masters women's titles
Veteran runner Rachel See won the Singapore national women's race in 3:05:51, the 41-year-old collapsing in exhaustion after crossing the finishing line and being taken away in a wheelchair before recovering later. Jasmine Teo came in second in 3:13:35, while Jasmine Goh was close behind in 3:13:46.
Bahrain's Rose Chelimo claimed the top spot in the women's elite race, her time of 2:37:18) just managing beating Kenya's Beatrice Jelagat Cherop (2:37:35). Meseret Dinke of Ethiopia finished in 2:37:48 to take the bronze medal.
Chelimo, who gave birth to her second child in 2021, said, “This is my first marathon win since 2018 and since I went on maternity leave in 2021. There were a lot of challenges to come back from maternity leave and I had to train very hard to do so.
"Although this was the most difficult race I have ever done due to the heat and the humidity, it is a great feeling to know I can still compete for championships. I am looking forward to seeing my family back home and I know they will give me a warm welcome.”
In the half-marathon national championships, Shaun Goh pulled away with 2km to go to win the men's race in 1:12:49, ahead of Jon Lim (1:13:01). Jeevaneesh Soundararajah was third in 1:15:45.
Vanessa Lee won the national women’s half marathon in 1:28:30, ahead of Serena Teoh in 1:29:56, while Leann Lee was third in 1:38:17.
In the Masters category, Yong He claimed the men’s overall title with a marathon finish of 2:51:07, while See took top spot in the women's category.
The SCSM also featured a series of shorter races on Friday and Saturday, such as the 10km, 5km, and Kids Dash, ensuring an inclusive event that welcomed runners of all ages and abilities.
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