Japanese runner Gen Yasuda, 55, has lived in Singapore for the past eight years and eight months.
But today, the Construction Manager has boarded a flight to Hong Kong – to start a brand new chapter of his working life.
Marked his final day in Singapore yesterday with a fun run
And yesterday morning, he marked his last full day in Singapore with the way that he knew best – organising a fun run – to run together for the last time, with all of the buddies and friends that he had grown close to over the years. This had been his 350th run in Singapore and posing with the Sir Stamford Raffles statue in the CBD.
Said Yasuda, “I feel that I have spent more of my spare time in Singapore on running. Doing so with clubs and groups, opened up doors to all sorts of people whom a foreigner like me would not have had the chance to meet, otherwise. I’m grateful to all for being so inclusive and kind.”He continued, “Throughout my stay in Singapore, I became acquainted with hundreds of runners and running became a dominant part of my social life and source of energy for my work.”
An 8.8km route starting in front of UOB Plaza
This run, which Yasuda had named the “Sir Raffles Run 350” was an 8.8km run that started at the Fat Bird Sculpture in front of UOB Plaza in the CBD. The route took the runners through the Raffles Place, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay areas. Some iconic landmarks that the run passed, included Raffles Hotel, Fort Canning Park and of course, a photo break at the Sir Stamford Raffles statue.Explained Yasuda, “The decision of my new posting was made only two working weeks before. Hence, there was no time left to run with every single group I met during my stay in Singapore. Organising a fun run for myself was a practical solution. Besides, my mentor, Ashley Ng, had been suggesting that I hold an event to mark my 365th visit to the Sir Raffles statue. I cut this down to 350.”
He continued, “A point of the biggest significance to me in Singapore, is the Raffles Landing Site where the Sir Stamford Raffles statue is. But the lack of a nearby carpark meant there would be logistical problems. So UOB Plaza was the nearest alternative and all runners know about the famous Fat Bird statue.”The Sir Raffles statue is of significance to Yasuda because he always makes it a point to take a photo with the statue, whenever he passes it during his regular runs through the Singapore CBD.
Runners have fond memories of Yasuda
Runners who had turned up at the event have fond memories of Yasuda. Said Hosea Ng, 39, a civil servant, “Gen San is a humble and unassuming person and approachable. We met during numerous races and Gei Gei Running Club events as well. I still remember the first time I met him was during one of the K5 Thursday evening runs at Labrador Park. It was Satay Runner (Peter Limb) who had first introduced me to him.”
Continued Ng, “So when I received this event invitation from Gen San one day, I knew that I had to make time to attend this event. As he will be relocating to Hong Kong for work, this final fun run prior to his departure and his 350th visit to the Sir Raffles statue bears a greater meaning for the running community in Singapore as we will be losing a familiar face to Hong Kong, thousands of miles away.”Added Patsy Lim, 54, and working in Banking & Finance, “I knew Gen San through the Safra Bay Run Expo in 2014. He was persuading me to join the Safra Running Club which till today, I’ve not looked back. That was my most memorable moment that I had with him besides those during training runs.”
She continued, “This morning stared with less than 10 people at 6.45am which grew to more than 30 runners at 7.15am. There was a great turn-out on this lovely morning run.”
Yasuda is a fast and passionate runner
For Mary Loehr, 49, she remembers Yasuda as a very passionate runner. Said the stay-at-home mum, “A friend introduced me to Yasuda at a running event a few years ago. Yasuda is not only a great runner but has such a passion that it was common to see him at races where he wasn’t even running. He was there to cheer on runners, taking photos and passing out snacks.”Melvin Tan, 47, remembers Yasuda as a humble and adventurous friend, rather than simply a runner. Said the Operations Manager, “He is not just a strong runner, but also a very humble, funny and adventurous friend. I remembered telling him during one of our durian feast outings that he is my only Japanese friend who loves durians and experimenting it with sauce and Wasabi.”
He continued, “I am happy that he has been given an opportunity to advance his career in another location but also sad as the Singapore running community is going to miss him. The last run is memorable to me, as it marks my years of friendship with him. All the best, Gen Yasuda San.”
About 80 runners graced the event
Overall, a crowd of roughly 80 runners had turned up to grace the fun run yesterday and to send Yasuda off. These included Lena Chia, 45, who was injured but still wanted to show her support for Yasuda on his last run.Said Chia, who works in Human Resources, “I didn’t complete the whole run as I am recovering from an injury but nevertheless I went there to support him for his last run in Singapore before he leaves for Hong Kong. I arrived at 6.50am and already saw Gen posing for photo shoots by David Tan, the photographer. Subsequently there were a lot of people wanting to take photos with him.”
She added, “A lot of running clubs were there too – Singapore Barefoot Runners, Safra Runners, Gei Gei Runners, K5 Runners and many others whom I do not know. The run started at about 7.45am as there was a lot of photo taking with Gen. Cocktails were also served after the run.”
The run was very heartwarming
Chia found the fun run every heartwarming, as a whole. She said “Even though I didn’t do the full route, it was very heartwarming to see so many runners turning up. The friendship made through running is awesome. And through this run, we know that friendship is without boundaries, regardless of race, language and nationalities.”
Added Manager David Tan, 55, “This was quite a special run as it was his farewell run together with us. So I knew that I had to turn up to send him off, no matter what. And it was definitely worth it.”Lynn Yap, 51, also has very warm memories of Yasuda. She said, “I knew Yasuda when I joined K5 Runners for the first MacRitchie Reservoir run. He was the sweeper and very humble and gentle. He was always greeting the slower runners with a big, wide smile. He makes everyone feel warm. He is an ‘iron man’ in my eyes, and a pacer for many races.”
She continued, “When we finished the run and reached UOB Plaza where we had started, he was told that the distance was short by 200m, so he started to jog around the finishing area. What an honourable man. There was cold fruit punch drinks with pineapples and peaches waiting for us at the finishing line – that was very refreshing. He also distributed the NTUC350 iron-on print stickers as a souvenir to all participants.”
Runners stayed behind to wish Yasuda wellAfter the fun run was over, runners stayed behind to wish Yasuda well. Said Ng, “Runners stayed to chat and wished Gen San well after the run, with Gen San handing out the mementos he had prepared for us – iron-ons for the event. It was an emotional sight and we were really sad he had to leave Singapore but the consolation is that this is a temporary separation and we will have the opportunity to meet him in local and regional races.”
Added Melvin Tan, “It was really heartwarming to see how running unites friends. Farewell and good wishes to our dear friend, Gen. We may not see you pounding the trails at MacRitchie but for sure we will meet one day in the Hong Kong trails. Till that day comes, take good care Yasuda San and I wish you all the very best in your endeavours.”Continued Yap, “I wished him all the very best in his new career and he hopes I would continue to stay positive and inspire more runners above 50 years old. I told him to stay fabulous. We will miss him.”
Yasuda is happy at how the event turned out
Yasuda himself is also very grateful by how the event had turned out.He said, “The run was very fun. I’m grateful to the participants, photographers, pacers, sweepers and Ashley Ng, who encouraged me to do this and provided me with the support and guidance that I needed.”