Mok Ying Ren Wins the Inaugural MediaCorp Hong Bao Run 2014

South East Asia’s fastest marathoner has struck gold yet again – and this time, it was at the inaugural MediaCorp Hong Bao Run, today. He claimed the first prize of S$2,888.

Mok Ying Ren, winner of the MediaCorp Hong Bao Run, posing with his victory cheque.

Mok Ying Ren, winner of the MediaCorp Hong Bao Run, posing with his victory cheque.

Organised by Singapore broadcasting giant MediaCorp, this run is an 8-kilometre dash starting and ending opposite Singapore’s Nicoll Highway MRT station.

Mok Ying Ren, 25, completed the run (men’s category) in a mind-blowing official time of 26 minutes and 40 seconds. He won, despite not managing to get in as much training as he would have liked for the race – due to his medical course, as part of his mandatory National Service (NS).

I caught up with South East Asia’s fastest marathoner and asked him about his race win as well as his army life now. To find out what the Officer Cadet (Doctor) said, do read on. 

Did you expect to win the race?

Well, there were a lot of expectations for me to win because I had just won the SEA Games marathon! But it has not been easy on me, because I have just come out of my national service medical cadet course, so it has been challenging over the past three months.

I had just finished field camp on Friday (that was a three-day exercise) and it was very tiring because I had to do a lot of carrying loads and stimulated exercises. Moreover we have lack of sleep in the army as well. So I just came here with the idea of having fun and simply enjoying my first race of the year after the Sea Games. The win today is a bonus.

Runners watching with bated breath to see who would win the MediaCorp Hong Bao Run.

Runners watching with bated breath to see who would win the MediaCorp Hong Bao Run.

That means you just came here to run for fun then?

Yeah, I did. I have not been running as intensely for the past three months. We stay in camp every day and I don’t get to train much. I only get to do a long run on weekends, so it was very tiring. That means I only run once a week, plus those runs that we do in camp, which is about three-plus kilometres. My instructors have been very supportive, though. Today, I was supposed to stay in camp, but they let me out to run this race. My course mates have been supportive too.

So what are you doing in NS now?

I am now undertaking the Medical Officer Cadet Course (MOCC). Then after this course, I will be commissioned as an officer and serving as a medical officer in the army. I’ll definitely be given certain postings, like the medical officers in the camps.

I’ll be finishing my medical course at the end of this month, and then I will know where I will be posted. Once I know this, it will be good. My main aim is to juggle National Service with my training.

What sort of postings are you likely to have?

One is to look after the medical welfare of the officers in the army and the recruits in Pulau Tekong.

Another would be as a staff officer to plan medical policies for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The third job would be as an outfield battalion officer, that is, to follow the unit for medical operations.

There are certain jobs that allow me to juggle my training much better than others. The battalion officer would be very challenging, because it requires you to go outfield and so it will be much harder to juggle army life with my training there. Hopefully the SAF will be able to make allowances for me though! But after this training, it should be more smooth sailing.

How demanding is army life, anyway?

For the past three months, it has been really demanding, because I have to stay in camp, but after that, it should be office hours for me – that will be less demanding. If the hours are fixed, I can train in the mornings and evenings to get more consistent and regular running.

I have been only able to train once a week now. That is almost only 10 to 20 per cent of my usual training volume. So I am surprised that I am still able to maintain some fitness. Perhaps the military training helps to maintain my strength. I am just looking forward to what happens after this course.

Are the Ah Boys to Men movies a successful portrayal of your army life?

I watched the movies some time ago, but I remember that the movie is based on a recruit’s life so that is quite different. As officer cadets, we are required to do much more decision making and stuff. Recruits make you do a lot of following instructions but we are training to make decisions for our fellow men, so it is quite different in terms of training.

In terms of physical exertion though, it is a different sort of fatigue. We have to carry lots of heavy loads and have to do a lot of thinking even when you are tired, so the tiredness is really different type to what I am used to. I prefer doing running training a lot more compared to this sort of exertion!

So what is your next running project going to be?

I am going for the Asia Cross Country Championships in Japan. They invited me to go. Then at the end of March, I will be going to Demark for the World Half Marathon Championships, as well. They invited the Athlete Association, who, in turn, selected the runners to go.

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