Alumni runners set three records in a 218km run around the island, demonstrating the Nanyang spirit of perseverance in celebration of NTU’s 55th anniversary.
Marathoners, seasoned or amateurish, would balk at the idea of running five marathons at one go. Well, Run Round Singapore (RRS), covering a distance of five marathons or 218km, was the ultimate challenge, for NTU runners and the university. A signature event celebrating NTU’s 55th anniversary, RRS also went the distance for fundraising in support of educational advancement.
The run held from Saturday 27 to Sunday 28 March, was divided into 68 stations islandwide, with the start and the end both at NTU.
Ready, set, go!
NTU President Dr Su Guaning flagged off RRS on Saturday morning in front of the first station – Chinese Heritage Centre.
In his opening address, Dr Su said: “This year, Run Round Singapore brings together the entire NTU community of faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as our friends and supporters, to celebrate the University’s 55 years of history and achievement.”
“Nine athletes, young and old, seasoned marathoners and first-timers, take on this challenge with a single-minded purpose and determination,” highlighted Dr Su, adding that “…one thing binds them – their attachment to this university."
The nine were: NTU alumnus and PhD student Mr Teng Teck Hou, 31; final-year Computer Engineering undergraduate Mr Ng Junwei, 27; Nanyang University alumnus Mr Lim Nghee Huat, 56; Nanyang Business School alumnus Mr Adrian Mok, 34; National Institute of Education (NIE) alumnus Mr Yong Yuen Cheng, 38; NIE alumna and teaching fellow Ms Adeline Yong, 33; and College of Engineering alumni Mr Chua Kok Chiow, 35, Mr Chin Kok Kai, 41 and Mr Melvin Lee, 28.
Perseverance sets record
Mr Yong Yuen Cheng completed the five combined marathons and made it to the Singapore Book of Records. He set the Fastest 218km Ultra-Marathon Runner (Male) record, completing RRS in 31 hours, 28 minutes and 51 seconds.
Of his record-setting feat, Mr Yong said: “I am very touched with the support that runners and AAO (NTU Alumni Affairs Office) have given me. It also gave me the opportunity to teach the younger generation about effort.” Mr Yong is a teacher at Hwa Chong Institution.
The running journey had not been smooth sailing for Mr Yong. He suffered from a bad diarrhoea, abrasion, blisters, and even a toenail problem such that holes had to be cut in his shoes. He also admitted that there were times he was worried he would not be able to finish the race due to all the problems faced and the recurrence of a previous heel injury.
The only female runner among the nine, Ms Adeline Yong set the Longest Ultra-Marathon Runner (Female) record, for clearing a distance of 129.3km.
The third record set at RRS was for the longest Ultra-Marathon of 218km, 68 relay stations, and massive 9,033 participants.
Another runner that completed the ultra-marathon was Mr Chua Kok Chiow. Although this was the first time Mr Chua tackled such a tedious marathon, he finished second, at 32 hours, 32 minutes and 5 seconds.
“I was happy just to finish the run,” he said. Like most other runners, timing was not the crucial pushing factor – it was the support given to him to complete the race. Mr Chua’s friends cheered him on as support runners pacing alongside him during the run. This allowed him to keep his spirits up throughout the race.
Like fellow teacher Mr Yong, Mr Chua hopes to lead by example. “I realise that it has a lot of impact on other people, and I hope to inspire them,” he said.
Mr Lim Nghee Huat, who is the oldest runner at 56-years-old, finished fourth. He shared that he did not push himself as hard as he did five years ago at the then 168km RRS, where he came in first. “I wanted to enjoy the whole experience of running,” said Mr Lim. His timing was 34 hours, 35 minutes and 39 seconds.
Mr Melvin Lee and Mr Teng Teck Hou came in third and fifth, finishing the run in 33 hours, 10 minutes, 35 seconds and 34 hours, 36 minutes, 32 seconds, respectively.
The runners were welcomed back by the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Raymond Lim, as well as about 1,000 spectators who had been awaiting their return.
The RRS event brought together members of the public as they participated in the run by starting from any of the 68 relay stations. Of these stations, half were managed by 47 Constituency Sports Clubs (CSC). And to make it special, 16 Members of Parliament and Grassroots Advisors flagged off the run at their respective stations.
A particular station at the hard court in front of Block 717 along Woodlands Avenue 7, which was under the Sembawang CSC, proved to be popular – 648 participants turned up.
Mr Jeffrey Ng, PBM, Chairman of Sembawang CSC, was all smiles at the turnout. Mr Ng said: “This is part of a healthy sport and we want to promote this to our residents,” he said. “We want to make sure our residents have the best of everything, including their health.”
The community spirit also came alive at the end point celebration of RRS where sports competitions and a carnival were held. Sports competitions such as three-on-three basketball, floorball, soccer and netball were held at NTU's Sports and Recreation Centre. Close to 200 alumni returned to NTU to take part in the competitions as well as joined in the RRS celebration. The carnival, on the other hand, saw performances ranging from belly dance to cheerleading. It set the stage for a carnival-like, entertaining evening.
The RRS fundraising campaign was also another success. The latest figure, a total of $300,000 (with government matching), was raised for NTU’s bursaries. The funds raised will benefit future generations of NTU students who may need financial help to complete their studies.
© Alumni Affairs Office