To mark Singapore’s 50th Golden Jubilee birthday last Sunday, some runners took to the pavements – and completed a 50km run. For many runners, it was definitely a meaningful way to celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.
Wanted to play his part to commemorate the Jubilee Year
Said Jeremy Lee, 43, Head of Digital, APAC, “Looking at what we have achieved in Singapore over the last 50 years was simply amazing and the tremendous efforts we have put in to get where we are today. I wanted to play my part to commemorate this Jubilee Year by running 1km for every year for the past 50 years to help remind me of the dreams, determination and never-give-up spirit this nation has gone through to what we have today.”
Run passed through many Singaporean landmarks
Lee was one of the runners who had taken part in a self-supported 50km National Day run, which had been put together by an avid ultra runner, Ben Swee, and it had passed through many Singaporean landmarks that the runners along the route had found very meaningful.
Said another runner, Esmond Choo, 45, a Service Manager, “The route was totally new to me and I enjoyed the scenery. We started at Victoria Theatre just in front of the Singapore River. it was a significant point to start as this place reminds me of the efforts that Singapore has taken to ensure cleanliness.”
Choo continued, “There were a few other significant places that we passed by. The National University of Singapore (NUS) celebrates its 110th anniversary this Singapore Jubilee Year – so running past here was meaningful. We took pictures at Haw Par Villa. The weather was good as it wasn’t hot in the afternoon. We also ran along the Pandan River and it was a very long stretch. We also passed Buona Vista MRT and had five minutes rest and refreshment before running back in the direction of NUS.”
Stopped for breaks along the way
Along the way, the runners stopped for breaks and they had lunch at the Bukit Timah Hawker Centre. Said Choo, “I remembered that at the 15km mark, I was so hungry. I took one plate of chicken rice and two pieces of carrot cake. Everyone seemed to be shocked when I ate so much. I think it was because I ran 58km mileage in the week leading up to this SG50 run.”
After that, they then ran through places such as the Henderson Waves, Six Battery Road and ChinaTown before ending their 50km run at Victoria Theatre. Said Choo, “ChinaTown was very crowded and I smelled the bak kwa. That made me hungry again and I had to run along the road to avoid the crowd.”
The many breaks, together with the group camaraderie, also helped the runners to push on when they were tired. Said Sng Boon Heng, an ardent ultra runner who has clocked a total of 2,200km of mileage to date in 2015, “I am currently doing a pedometer challenge in my company and my target was 30,000 steps per day. Just the night before, I walked for three hours ending at 10.30pm. So the 50km run was tough for me. I wanted to call it quits along the way, as I was really tired after 25km. Having free rides on buses and trains made it even more tempting.
Sng added, “Seeing running buddies with me though, it motivated me to press on. I then pondered all the hardships that Singapore went through and how we have become what we are today. And that kept me going till the end.”
Pleased with the run as a whole
Overall, Choo, an ultra runner who has completed events such as the Sundown Ultra Marathon (100km), was pleased with his run. He said, “When I reached the end point, which took 8 hours and 23 minutes to complete, I felt proud to be a Singaporean as a lot of the local running community had come here to celebrate national day. It was also a well-plotted route to run, which I would do again during a leisure run one day.”
Added Lee, “The route had been through a mix of old and new Singapore landmarks, and when running past these, we re-collected how Singapore had changed over the decades and its meaningful purpose in our National Building journey. It was definitely a memorable experience.”
Ran 50km by himself due to prior personal commitments
For fellow ultra runner Mervyn Chew, 50, a Head Trainer at Great Eastern, he admitted that he had initially wanted to join Ben Swee’s group run too. Said Chew, “But due to church service commitment in the morning, I decided to withdraw from the group run. But I still felt that I wanted to complete 50km, as this would be my personal tribute to this very special occasion of 50 years of independence and in a belated way, a tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his pioneering team. This is especially meaningful as this is the year of his passing and of course, 1965 was the year that I was born in.”
So what Chew chose to do then, was to plot his own solo 50km run instead. Explained Chew, “I was still plotting my route in the morning to make the journey as pleasant as I could. I wanted to run Green Corridor but due to the rain on Saturday, I decided against that as it would probably be soggy and muddy. I could only start at 12.30pm after the church service and I wanted to be back home for the National Day Parade (NDP) TV viewing, which was a family tradition on 9 August. So I had to complete the run in 6 hours.”
In the end then, Chew decided to run around the Park Connector Networks near his area – that is, multiple loops around the Ulu Pandan, Faber Crest and Jurong Chinese Gardens. Added Chew, “It came to exactly 50km. My actual time was 5.43 hours but I stopped my timing for traffic lights, toilet breaks and drinking points, so the nett time came up to a much flattering 5.09.08 hours, which has a tinge of 9 August in the numbers. That was purely coincidental.”
In all, Chew was definitely happy with his run – as he admitted that 50km is not a distance that he would typically run solo, though he takes part regularly in ultra races such as the 50km MSIG trail race and the Twilight Ultra. And of course, Chew quickly added that no, he didn’t miss the NDP on television either.
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