Completing 31 Marathons in 31 Days: Ah Siao’s Bone Marrow Donor Challenge

Runners and representatives from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme, waiting for Ah Siao with eager anticipation.

Runners and representatives from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme posing together with Ah Siao.

Just before 7pm last night, Ah Siao made his appearance. He may have been half an hour late, but none of us really cared. In fact, there were screams and shouts of excitement as we spotted him on the other side of the road, waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

Then Ah Siao crossed the road, and the excitement and fervour grew rapidly – amongst the crowd of 30 plus people.

Clad in his signature orange singlet and supported by two fellow runners, we could now clearly see the marathoner slowly limping towards us, from across the street. Ah Siao seemed to be in great pain. There was a grim, but determined look on his face.

There was absolutely no way that he was going to give up now – especially when he was this close to completing 31 marathons in 31 days. (His last run is today).

Ah Siao makes his appearance, together with the runners who ran with him.

Ah Siao with some runners

When Ah Siao saw the group of us gathered at Novena Velocity, he put on a brave face and mustered up an additional burst of courage and energy – to sprint towards us, despite the pain that he was in.

Now, we were all standing in single-file at the basketball court outside the Novena Velocity shopping mall, clad in our grey singlets – courtesy of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme. When he approached us, we all greeted him warmly with high fives and cheered him on.

Then together, we took off and with a combination of jogging and walking, we accompanied him on the final one kilometre of his 42km trek yesterday.

The tyre dragger from StanChart

Throughout our run, the festive mood was definitely in the air. Ah Siao deserved it, due to the magnitude of what he was just about to accomplish, after all. In fact, as he was heading towards the Bone Marrow Donor Programme building, he was even presented with a sunflower, by a “secret” admirer, who had simply thrust it into his hands.

Fitness instructor Gerrard Lin, 31, is more commonly recognised by his moniker, Ah Siao. He is well known in Singapore as the tyre dragger from the 2012 Standard Chartered Marathon.

Running the final 1km together with Ah Siao.

Running the final 1km together with Ah Siao (in orange).

A Roller Coaster Journey

Last month, he took on this massive challenge to get more donors to sign up for the Bone Marrow Donor Programme, by running 42km daily.

At the end of his run yesterday, which he did in a time of about 5 hours 45 minutes, Ah Siao said, “I feel great. It has been a roller-coaster journey with many ups and downs. But mostly ups, because of the encouragement that has poured in through Facebook.”

Not soldering on alone

Yesterday’s run was definitely one of the most memorable occasions for him though, because of the sheer support that he had received – including six other runners going the entire 42km distance together with him last night. This ensured that Ah Siao was not soldering on alone.

One of these runners was 51-year-old IT professional William Muk. He said, “I ran with him, because I think Ah Siao is doing something really good and I believe in his cause too. But running for 31 days is mentally draining and I wanted to give him some moral support in the final leg of his journey.”

With Ah Siao at the finishing line.

With Ah Siao at the finishing line.

It was certainly not an easy run yesterday, mainly because the scorching heat was beating down relentlessly on the runners.

As William said, “It was really hot and our timing was a little slow because of that.”

Plagued by Serious Quad Tendonitis Injury

In his final few days though, Ah Siao had admitted that he was in great pain, due to a serious quad tendonitis injury. This resulted from knee overuse and caused pain and swelling in his knee joint.

“My quads started acting up about two or three days before the Twilight Ultra Challenge last Saturday,” he explained. While this type of injury usually goes away with rest, Ah Siao was unable to get any rest, because of the daily marathon challenge that he had set out to do.

Ah Siao is presented with his certificate from the Singapore Book of Records, for running the most consecutive marathons in Singapore.

Ah Siao is presented with his certificate from the Singapore Book of Records, for running the most number of consecutive marathons in Singapore.

In fact, according to sports physiotherapist Wendy Lee, 46, who had been monitoring Ah Siao’s injury, he was in great pain and agony – especially during the Twilight Ultra Challenge, where he had bravely soldiered on.

Wendy said, “He was screaming in pain on Saturday night and everyone was looking at him. He was really limping for part of the way during the Twilight Ultra Challenge. His leg is totally numb now and he doesn’t feel anything there. And his leg muscles are really rock-hard, so hard that I just can’t even dig my elbow into them.”

Fortunately for Ah Siao though, Wendy had also accompanied him for the last few kilometres on his run yesterday afternoon, to look after him and keep the pain down.

A small token of appreciation for Ah Siao, in the form of a mini "tyre " inside a frame.

A small token of appreciation for Ah Siao, in the form of a framed “mini tyre “

The pain is miniscule

But to Ah Siao though, the pain that he feels is nothing, compared to what the leukaemia patients, who need bone marrow cells, go through.

He said, “Pain will go away. I can rest. But if you have a blood disease, you will never be okay until you have a bone marrow transplant. So my pain is miniscule compared to someone undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia.”

Ah Siao hopes to get one person to pledge a donation of their bone marrow, with every kilometre that he has run. So this will translate to 1,302 new donors.

And Jane Prior, the president of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme, is confident of achieving this goal.

A feast awaits Ah Siao and the other runners at the Bone Marrow Donor Program's office.

A scrumptious feast awaits Ah Siao after his run.

She said, “In fact, there has already been some increase in the number of donors. When I stepped into the office this evening, I already saw 10 people signing up on the spot.”

“After today too, with the publicity that we’ll get from the media and bloggers, the awareness of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme will increase even further.”

If you have been inspired by Ah Siao and would like to pledge to donate your bone marrow, please visit

Click here to read about my interview with Ah Siao on his 31 Marathons in 31 Days project.

Click Here to read about Ah Siao and his tyre dragging exploits.

And click here to read more about supporting the Sundown Marathon cause to contribute to disabled athletes at the Singapore Disability Sports Council. 

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