Singapore’s oldest marathon runner, Chan Meng Hui, aged 86 and affectionately known as Uncle Chan in local running circles, gave an inspirational talk recently.
As he got up from his seat to speak to the audience, Uncle Chan shared that he had not always been a runner.
Said the marathoner, “In my younger days, I had been terrible. I was a heavy smoker and drinker, and I had many drinking kakis and girlfriends. My wife always quarrelled with me. I even had to get permission from her whenever I wanted to go out.”
“But when I got older, I realised that my wife was correct,” he added.
Though he had also made quite a bit of money in his work during his younger days, Uncle Chan adds that he had not been in the habit of saving money. He said, “So today, I am still working and riding a motorbike to make money. To make money, I need a fit body, and the best way to achieve this, is to exercise.”
Took up marathon running at 55
So this led to him taking up marathon running at the age of 55. A marathon is 42.195km long.
Added the runner, “And now I am hooked onto running. Many people my age have retired and looking after grandkids, but I am spending my time working and running. Today I have run 101 marathons. My original target was 100, but I want to keep running to inspire my fellow citizens.”
He continued, “Also, because of my running I have also found that I do not need to spend so much on medical care. The best way to keep fit is through exercise – it has helped me to live longer and happier.”
To Uncle Chan, it is easier to run a marathon as compared to a sprint, such as 100 metres. He said, “For short distance you have to go as fast as possible. You can’t stop to talk to friends along the way. But for a marathon, you can stop and chat to people and take selfies, and then continue. It may be long, but is more enjoyable.”
Running is cheap and simple for him
He had initially took up running because to him, this is the cheapest and easiest sport available. Said Uncle Chan, “For badminton, you need four people. For basketball you need a big group. But for running, your partner is a pair of running shoes. You can go with it and travel anywhere with it. And you can run anywhere without having to commit to set times.”
He added, “So whether it is rain or shine, I can run anywhere. I can bring my running shoes when I am travelling and run along the hotel grounds. I can also simply run without having to wait for anyone to come.”
Uncle Chan may take about nine hours to complete a marathon, but to him, timing is not of the essence.
He says, “People may laugh at me for taking so long, but when I cross the finishing line, I know in my heart that I have completed it. I am not young anymore and I am not training for the Olympics. So I don’t worry about how fast I go; as long as I can go far, I am happy.”
Urges more people to give running a go
Continued Uncle Chan, “And that is the story that I would like to share.”
So with that, he urges more people to take up running – to get fit, and one day perhaps even give the marathon a go – for themselves.