He is running one marathon every day this month. That equates to 31 marathons in 31 days, or a massive 1,302 kilometres in total.
30-year-old freelance fitness instructor Gerrard Lin, who goes by the moniker Ah Siao, is probably more well-known for his tyre-dragging exploits during the 2012 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, after training for only eight weeks – the very race that had initially sparked off his love for running.
Now, Gerrard has taken his running to a whole new level, in his bid to raise awareness for the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) – through his one marathon a day for the whole of this month.
So far, Gerrard has already completed 25 marathons and these have taken place in parks, stadiums and streets all over Singapore. This is the final week of his challenge and some of the locations that he will be running at, for the next few days, will include Outram Pearl’s Hill and Tiong Bahru. He’ll also be taking on the Twilight Ultra Challenge at East Coast Park this weekend.
To find out more about Gerrard’s one-marathon-a-day challenge, I recently interviewed the marathoner on one of his runs. Here is what the fitness instructor said.
Gerrard, how did you get the idea of doing one marathon every day?
The one marathon every day signifies what patients undergo in chemotherapy. When I have completed a marathon in five, six or sometimes 10 hours, I feel very tired. I imagine that this is what someone who has leukaemia or any other blood diseases, feel daily. So I wanted to emulate and understand that – for my BMDP work.
When I saw good ultra runners like Charlotte Teo, Kelly Lim and Ong Kai Wei posting their pictures online, I was amazed at how they could do marathons like the Great Wall of China, the Tour De Taiwan, the Mount Blanc or even the Borneo ultra marathon. I started to read up on ultra runners like Pam Reed, Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek and I learnt that Pam Reed did a 300-mile self-supported record-breaking run. She was the first woman to do that in maybe about 72 or 75 hours, then Dean Karnazes did the same distance in 70 hours. So I thought, maybe I could do a 300-mile run in Singapore or I could even run every day.
This is your final week of running 42km every day. How has your body adapted to the challenge?
It has been magical and after a while, your body adapts. For example, I had this injury when I started out on the first day – at the 2XU marathon. My first metatarsal became quite swollen and it was tender to the touch. But after the second, third and fourth day of running very slowly and gingerly, the pain went off and the swelling had gone down.
I got to know my body better and the depths of where it could go, through taking on this challenge. I feel tired but at the same time, I am still quite fresh. I think I can go on and on. But to do it in Singapore, it is quite difficult. The heat is one thing, but the changes in the weather nowadays through global warning and El Nino make it challenging for my body.
How would you answer people who say that you are “siao” (crazy) to run marathons every day?
Yes, it is crazy and it is not easy. But it is do-able. It is not just about willpower. You can also draw on a lot of life lessons when you are running a marathon each day. These include developing time management skills and a determination and perseverance to not give up when things are getting tough.
Is there a specific time limit to run your daily marathons, in order to get into the Singapore Book of Records?
In Singapore, it does not specify I have to do each one under a certain hour – just that I must complete the distance every day. So I can take 10 or even 12 hours to do the marathon.
Initially, I was thinking, maybe I would do each run under six hours every day and I started well. Every marathon was under six hours till the 10th day, when I couldn’t take it anymore – and it became seven hours plus.
How do you inspire yourself every day?
I am not that determined as a person. I seem to be, but I don’t see myself like that. Some days, you will be more inspired and other days, you will not be. Sometimes I run and I inspire myself by visualizing the finishing line. Other days, I run and think of good ultra runners like Charlotte Teo and I tear a bit, thinking of what they are able to do and so I try to emulate them.
What really helps you in these long runs?
The mind can really help. I learnt a lot of mind tricks, like how to relax and blank out the mind. For example, don’t look at your watch. Just remind yourself that you have done 100m, 200m and so on, that is, you chunk the marathon down into smaller, more manageable sections. Or you can totally forget about the distance that you are doing, like setting your watch so that you can only see yourself having completed 5km intervals. Tricks like that will help to fool your mind and make you more relaxed.
How different would you say this present marathon challenge is, compared to dragging your tyre?
Anyone can drag a tyre. It just depends on whether they have enough training or can endure the seven or eight hours it would take to drag it. You should know the tricks of the trade if you have pulled a tyre enough times.
But for this challenge, I am not sure anyone could do it. I want to prove to myself that I am a real runner, not just some gimmicky tyre-dragging sideshow act.
What do you see yourself doing once you have finished this project?
Everyone always asks me what’s next. But I just want to take it one step at a time and you will be a happier person. It is no point thinking too far into the future. I just want to see how my running goes, one day at a time.
I have taken running to a level that I think it is ideal because I am now using it to raise awareness for the bone marrow donor programme. I’m not sure what I want to do next, though.
What would you say has been the most memorable moments in your present marathon challenge?
I guess the whole journey has been a very memorable one. But some incidents do stick in my mind.
For example, when I was running one day, someone texted me and said, hey I have some shoes to give you, what time will you be done? I started around 6pm, so I replied that I would finish around 12 midnight and that it’ll be too late to meet him. The guy answered, it’s ok, I will come and fetch you, then send you home. He was so nice!
Another runner, whom I had earlier ran with, set up a water station just for me, with 12 bottles and five packets of ice. I asked, are you trying to kill me? He replied, I’m scared there won’t be enough water.
I also remember one of my 10-hour runs. It became 10 hours because I fell asleep at every bus shelter I could find. It was walk-sleep-walk-sleep and when you wake up you are still so sleepy that you doze off again when running. My pace that evening was about 15 to 20 minutes per kilometre.
How do you juggle your marathon running with your job?
For a month, it is still ok. Time management is important, though. Every minute you waste on Facebook, you have less time to rest. Every hour spent running, you have an hour less to sleep. So I learnt to prioritize my time really well – but for this month only, I think. After that, I will probably procrastinate!
If you did a similar challenge again, what would you change?
I would have done more planning in advance. For example, plan my nutrition better and plan for people to run with me.
I am the sort of character who does things as it comes along. In this present challenge, I have been rather fortunate that even though this whole programme was not really planned in advance, people have been coming in to help me. For example, they have given me a pair of shoes, sent me home after the run and have even bought me food sometimes.
Gerrard will be finishing his final marathon at Novena on Monday, 31 March. If you wish to run the last 500m together with him and/or show your support for him after the run, click here.
To receive updates about Ah Siao’s one-marathon-a-day madness on his Facebook page, click here.
More Blog Posts
- Click here to read about Ah Siao and his tyre dragging exploits.
- Click here to read about an Austrian marathon collector, who’s run 180+ marathons.
- Click here to read about a feisty lady who has run 7 marathons in 7 continents.
- Click here for tips from Singapore’s oldest marathon runner, at 83 years old.