Twilight Ultra Challenge 2015: Running 91km To Say Thank You To Mr Lee Kuan Yew

They wanted to say thank you to Mr Lee Kuan Yew – Singapore’s Founding Father – in the way that they knew best.

So upon hearing about the unfortunate passing of Mr Lee, a small group of ultra runners made up their mind to run 91km –  at the Twilight Ultra Challenge race – and they dedicated their run to him.

Some runners dedicated their run at the Twilight Ultra Challenge to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Some runners dedicated their run at the Twilight Ultra Challenge to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The number 91 had initially been derived, because Mr Lee had passed away from pneumonia during the wee hours of Monday morning, aged 91 years old.

Mr Lee was the brains behind many significant moments of Singapore’s history

As the very first Prime Minster of Singapore, Mr Lee took over in 1959 and he was the architect behind many of the most significant moments of Singapore’s history, such as Singapore’s Separation from Malaysia and Independence in 1965. Over the 31 years of his reign, and even after he stepped down in 1990, Mr Lee has successfully transformed Singapore from a third-world fishing port, to a first-world cosmopolitan city, where runners can pound the pavements in the wee hours of the night – without too much worries for their safety.

Lee Kuan Yew has touched the hearts and lives of many Singaporeans.

Lee Kuan Yew has touched the hearts and lives of many Singaporeans.

The race date and format of Twilight Ultra Challenge meant that a 91km tribute run was possible

So a small group of runners felt that the Twilight Ultra Challenge, an Ultra Marathon race held between 7pm last night to 11am this morning – was the perfect race to show their appreciation for their country’s Founding Father. This was both due to the race format as well as the timing of the race date.

Held at East Coast Park, the Twilight Ultra Challenge is a 16-hour Ultra Marathon whereby runners clock as much mileage as possible within a time frame of 16 hours. To be declared a finisher of the Twilight Ultra Challenge, the minimum mileage that a runner must clock is 50km. But there is no limit to the maximum amount of mileage that a runner is allowed to complete – as long as it is within the time requirements. In fact, the top male runner this year had clocked 160km and the top female runner did 110km.

2015 marks the 5th edition of the Twilight Ultra Challenge.

2015 marks the 5th edition of the Twilight Ultra Challenge.

Intentionally set out to dedicate a 91km run to Mr Lee

Yeo Kim Song, 39, a Quality Control Manager, was one of the ultra runners to successfully clock a 91km tribute run for Mr Lee. He explained, “Though I had initially wanted to clock 100km at this race, I later thought that 91km was a good distance to commemorate Mr Lee and everything that he has done for Singapore – so I changed my mind and ran 91km instead.”

Added Tan Kim Lai, 56, a Supervisor, who also ran exactly 91km, “I set the target at 91km and intentionally went out to achieve this. Actually I did not have the time to go and queue up at the Parliament, so I wanted to show my appreciation for Mr Lee in my own special way. Thus, I made up my mind to run 91km at this race, as a form of respect to him.”

Some runners are relaxing after their run.

Some runners relaxing after their race

Did not waver even as they harboured thoughts of giving up

And Kim Lai’s determination did not waver, even as he harboured thoughts of giving up during his run. Explained Kim Lai, who takes part in the Twilight Ultra Challenge every year, “Actually I wanted to throw in the towel at 80km because I always stop running at 80km whenever I take part in this race. It was a huge mental block for me, to carry on further. So this year marks the first year that I have run more than 80km. But I didn’t want to stop at 80km because I had set out to do this for Mr Lee right from the beginning. When I finally completed the 91km, I felt a surge of emotions – that I had done it, for him. Thank you, Mr Lee, for everything.”

Only 500 more metres to go before the 91km mark!

Only 500 more metres to go before the 91km mark! (Photo: Danny Tham).

Tan Hong Chew, 37, a Home Maker, is another runner who had successfully completed 91km. She said, “When I reached the 30km mark, I actually thought to myself that I would just get to about 50km or 60km and call it quits. I thought it would be so tiring to carry on and keep walking for so much longer. But when I reached the 50km mark, I felt that I could still carry on – so I continued pushing, for Mr Lee. And when I got to 80km, I knew that I could make it – and I simply focused all my thoughts on finishing 91km – and I made it.”

Could have run on for longer

Fellow ultra runner Tan Tick Hock, 37, a Financial Consultant, felt that he still had the energy to continue and run on. But he made a conscious decision to stop at 91km – to say thank you to Mr Lee. He said, “After doing 91km, I actually felt that could have run for longer, but I had intended to complete 91km at this race to show my gratitude to Mr Lee. So I stopped running when I reached the 91km marker. After all, Mr Lee has done so much for our Singapore, and this is my simple way of saying thank you to him for everything that he has contributed.”

Tan Tick Hock is one of the ultra runners who completed exactly 91km.

Tan Tick Hock is one of the ultra runners who completed exactly 91km. (Photo: Tan Tick Hock).

So according to Tick Hock, his shorter 91km run, in 15 hours and 21 minutes was a small gesture – to say thanks to Mr Lee, who has selflessly dedicated more than 60 years of his life to the service of Singapore. Tick Hock said that he can always go back to this race next year – to clock a longer run. But this one was for Mr Lee!

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