Singapore Half Marathon 2023

Standard Chartered Singapore Half Marathon 2023

The Standard Chartered Singapore Half Marathon was held on Sunday, 3rd December 2023. After having a really difficult experience with the 2019 Singapore Marathon (extreme cramps and chafing) and a DNS in 2022 due to illness, this was redemption. I was incredibly nervous going into it; with the 4:30am start time, confusion on getting there without public transport and fears over running in the humidity. I actually debated in the days leading up if I’d go ahead with it. I’m SO glad I did, as I had a fantastic experience and am a proud owner of the Singapore Half Marathon Medal.

This blog talks about my personal experience running the Singapore Half Marathon, some advice on getting there and a bit about what to expect from the race. I hope anyone out there thinking about doing this race gets inspired to sign up. You won’t regret it!

The Singapore Marathon Expo

The Singapore Marathon Expo is held at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre Hall. Running from Thursday to Saturday, I decided to go on day 1 in the hopes to avoid queues. However, there were many queues! The race packs included a branded shoe bag, runner’s t-shirt, race number (with safety pins) and a free tiger balm stick.

As with every expo, I go in with the intention of collection my race bib and then leaving. And, as with every expo, I end up sampling every food on offer and buying way too much stuff! My luggage back home is definitely going to be over the limit now. It’s a very well organised expo and seems to be growing each year with the number of stands.

Getting to the Singapore Marathon

Not going to lie, getting to the Singapore Half Marathon wasn’t the most straightforward experience initially. Public transport doesn’t run that early, so your options are limited. The start area is located at the F1 Pit Building, at 1 Republic Blvd. When I ran it in 2019, it was the year they trialled out a 7:30pm start time. So getting there for 4:30am was a totally new experience for me.

How to Get to the Singapore Marathon Start

  • Reserve a seat on the race-organised shuttle buses
  • Drive / have someone drive you
  • Pre-arrange a taxi
  • Risk ordering a Grab on the morning (not easy!)
  • Cycle
  • Walk

The race organisers have a series of shuttle buses that pick you up from various spots around Singapore and take you to the start area. These are typically found in the ‘outer suburbs’, so not convenient to those living nearer the race. I was staying in Tanjong Pagar so wasn’t near any of these collection points. Furthermore, the collection points were very early – 1:30am despite the race not starting until 4:30am. Read more on specific collection points here.

Arranging a taxi in advance, or joining a carpool, is probably the best option. I wasn’t organised enough to sort this out ahead of time and decided to risk ordering a Grab taxi the morning of the race. Needless to say, i’m sure many others had the same idea as me and my request was never accepted.

Fearing I’d be late, I decided to give up on Grab and power walk to the start line. I didn’t have a Singapore simcard, otherwise I would have tried to rent an SG bike, like others had. The walk was roughly 45 minutes and I met many runners along the way. One of my favourite things about running, is the commaradier and instant connection you have with other runners. I met a guy called Patrick, who had flown in from Indonesia, and we chatted our way to the start together. It became clear why the race was held at the ungodly hour of 4:30am…I was dripping in sweat already just from the walk to the race. I drank an entire pocari sweat just to get the the start.

Pre – Race

Arriving at the F1 Pit Building was a fairly chaotic experience. There were people coming in from all directions, with race volunteers shouting directions to help us navigate the different areas. I didn’t have a bag to leave, so I headed straight to the runners area. Here I joined a large queue for security, where men and women were filtered down for quick body scans. People were scanned quickly, however with 40,000+ runners, the queues did take a little while.

Note: a number of runners made it to the front of the queue before being turned away for bag drop. You won’t be able to drop your bags after you’ve passed security, so you must go straight to bag drop when you first arrive at the race. Once your bags are drop, you can proceed to the security queues and runners area. There are large signs everywhere pointing out bag drop, but some people must have missed them.

Once I was through security, I was opened up to the pre-race area. Here you’ll find toilets, hydration tents, large course and the gates for each pen. When you initially enter the race, you’ll be asked to give an estimated finish time. This will determine what pen (or start wave) you’re put in and will be represented with a letter. I was in Pen E, so once I had visited the hydration tents, I made my way to the start line.

Credit: This was taken from the official Singapore Marathon Website

The Start Line

Once in my start wave, pen E, I joined the other runners eagerly waiting to start. At 4:25am, it was announced the race start had been delayed to 4:45am. A reason wasn’t announced, but I wasn’t surprised given how long the security queue had become. I think many runners hadn’t made it through that yet.

Those running the marathon and half-marathon as in the same start areas, so it’s quite crowded. The race is run together until 15km, where the course splits for marathoners and half marathoners to run different routes.

At 4:45am the race had begun and Pen A were off. The different start waves were staggered every few minutes. My pen, E, made it over the start line at 5:10am. I was extremely nervous for the race, so it felt like a long wait to get started. We had some big downpours in the days leading up to the race, so I was hoping the weather would hold out for the race. I was also praying that I wouldn’t get any cramp or chafing issues, which I suffered badly with in the 2019 Singapore Marathon. With that, we were off!

The Race

Singapore Half Marathon Route. Credit: SCSM Official Site


The race starts down Republic Avenue before turning onto Beach Road and then Nicoll highway. As with any race, the first few kilometres are about finding your pace and rhythm. Focusing on not going out too fast and getting settled into the race. The first 3km or so were very congested! The course is somewhat narrow to begin with, meaning it was impossible to weave / over take anyone. This turned out to be a positive, as it prevented me from going out too fast. But I imagine this would be irritating if you were in a pen much slower than your race pace or trying to a PB.

Once on Nicoll Highway, the race continues down Esplanade Drive and onto Cecil Street. This part of the race widened out meaning people could settle more easily into a pace and not bump into each other.

My thoughts were mainly on how weird it was starting and running a race in the pitch dark! The first, of many, hydration stations was found shortly after 2km. With another just after 4km. Here there were both water and Isotonic options – I had both.

There were toilets throughout the course too! I didn’t have time to go at the start area, so I went to the ones about 5km in.


This was the hardest part of the race for me. From 6km, you run along Anston Road and Keppal road, before joining the West Coast Highway. This entire stretch is very long and quite dull as there isn’t much to look at. It’s an out-and-back, so you run until 9.5km and then u-turn. It felt very congested around here. Some runners would start walking which would immediately force those nearby to make a sudden stop or dart out the way. I also find it mentally hard to run alongside runners going the other direction. Knowing they’re further ahead, and that I haven’t made it to that section of the race yet, always gets me.

However, this is where my 2019 SG marathon race started to go downhill, so I felt happy that it wasn’t being repeated this year. There are aid stations at the u-turn bend with toilets and water stations dotted around this section.


The sun started to come up by the time I reached 13/14km. Although, I was nervous it would get much hotter, the light made the biggest difference! I loved seeing all the sights. Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to spend large periods of time in Singapore, i’ll never get over the marina views! The 15km is where the two races divide. All marathoners are diverted to the right and half-marathoners on the left. I kept stopping to take photos as it was stunning in the dawn light. Again, there were a number of water stops and toilets.


The last stretch of the race was along Nicoll Highway again, over Merdeka Bridge, onto Mountbatten Road and finishing on Stadium Boulevard. There was lots of space to run during this section of the race. Again, there were water stops along here. I loved that we could see the National Stadium (where the race ended) for a lot of this stretch and it added extra motivation.

A blister that had started forming early on in the race decided to pop at 20km. I had to stop for a few minutes to try and rearrange my socks and shoes to help with the discomfort. There was another aid station at 20.5km but I just wanted to end the race and get my blister dealt with after. Aside from that my spirits were very high and I couldn’t wait to cross the finish line.

The Finish

Of all the running races I’ve done, this finish was probably one of my favourites. Ending in the National Stadium, the energy was electric! Despite the blisters, I mustered up some energy to sprint finish. In reality it was probably just a faster jog, than the pace I’d been running in the race, but it felt fast. I was so overcome with emotion at finishing that I was in tears. I’ve had quite a few health set backs over the last 4 years, so this was my first proper long distance race back. It felt great!!

Once I had recovered, I collected my finishers medal and headed towards the freebies! We were given a water, 100 plus can, chocolate oat milk, bananas and ice cold towels. Further ahead was a tiger balm station. Being new to tiger balm, it was extremely stingy on my skin…not sure if it’s supposed to do that but I had to take my top off and rub water on my skin. After having some time to recover in the stadium, I made my way back to Tanjong Pagar.

Overall Opinion

Despite the very early start, and the hot walk to the race, I had a brilliant day! The race was incredibly well organised, with ample water stations, toilets and medics throughout the course. The atmosphere amongst the runners was great, and even with the early race time, there were a few crowds out to cheer.

With that many runners, it’s understandable that the race has to be on highways at points. But there was a good mix of sites / things to see outside of that. It’s a race I always say ‘never again’ throughout the run, but then look forward to signing up to next years. I would strongly recommend getting your nutrition and hydration strategy sorted ahead of time. I believe my lack of hydration strategy is what caused so many issues in the 2019 race. For this year, I made a point of stopping at every water station and had my own pocari sweat bottles.

Overall it was a brilliant race and I can’t wait to do it again in the future.

My Singapore Half Marathon Timeline

  • 3:00am – Alarm / Get Ready
  • 3:20am – Panicked on the side of the road, praying a Grab taxi will accept my request
  • 3:30am – Still panicked
  • 3:35am – Given up on Grab and now marching to the race, stressed!
  • 4:10am – Made it to the race and joined the security queues
  • 4:25am – Waiting in Pen E – race delayed to 4:45am
  • 5:10am – Crossed the start line
  • 7:43am – Crossed the finish line

If you made it this far, well done and thank you! Wishing any future Singapore Half Marathon runners the best of luck!