Athletics: Avid runner, 53, participating in 18th consecutive StanChart S'pore Marathon

SINGAPORE – After running his 10th Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) in 2013, Steven Ng considered making it his last as he had been running the 42.195km marathon every year since 2004.

But the avid runner decided to continue challenging himself and see how many he could complete consecutively. Come December, he will be taking part in his 18th SCSM, which returns in a hybrid format after last year’s was run virtually owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ng, 53, who has never failed to finish the race, told The Straits Times: “With these long runs, you can imagine a lot of people will quit halfway. I try to push myself to complete each race so it’s been a very enriching experience.

“People have asked me why I keep wanting to suffer by running the full marathon. So after 10 races, I thought I should stop since there was no point in running so many.

“But I had second thoughts and wanted to take up the challenge of continuing to see how long I can go without stopping.”

Ng recalled feeling daunted before his first marathon in 2004, even though he ran 5 to 10km two to three times a week.

The container shipping manager said: “My friends and I wanted to try something different so we decided to step out of our comfort zone. We had fewer than six months of training but I managed to finish the race, although I had some cramps and had to walk some parts.

“My first race was bittersweet. I completed it in six hours but the process itself was tough, having to endure exhaustion and body aches and sores.

“But I had a great sense of accomplishment as I had achieved this mini milestone of running such a long distance and I got addicted after that first race.”

For subsequent editions, he looked up on how to train better and made it a point to start at least six months before a race by clocking more mileage and doing more long runs during the weekends.

He also takes part in a few half marathons in the lead-up to the year-end SCSM.

One memorable race was the last physical edition in 2019 when it was held in the evening for the first time. While humidity was still high, Ng enjoyed taking in the sights in his first night race.

“It was very refreshing and the central business district and Marina Bay areas were lit. The city skyline at night was beautiful. That year’s finisher’s medal design was also my favourite because it was in the shape of a lion’s head,” said Ng.

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Another unforgettable experience was his third or fourth race when he was 5km from the finish line on the Benjamin Sheares Bridge and started cramping so badly he had to lie down.

He recounted: “The runners around me came to my aid and I was so happy to see that they were so kind and helpful. It’s not just about running but also about sportsmanship and not leaving anyone behind.”

He managed to push through the pain and complete the race, learning a valuable lesson to drink enough fluids during a race.

While this year’s event is his 18th marathon, he is still excited as every year is a different challenge. He will be running the full marathon distance virtually and two in-person races, the 5km and 10km, on Dec 4 and 5 respectively.

Ng plans to run the SCSM for as long as he can and added: “Every year after I finish, I feel like I’ve won a race. I think about why I run and that keeps me going. It’s because of my family and I want to dedicate and present my medal to them because they keep me going.”

The 20th SCSM will see a virtual race (VR) grand finale that will take place from Dec 1 to 12, and an in-person grand finale from Dec 4 to 5 at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Those opting for the VR options can choose the following race categories: the 5km, 10km, half-marathon, full 42.195km marathon, kids 1.5km and kids 3km.

The physical team-of-four Toyota Ekiden, 5km and 10km in-person races will see 4,000 runners participating across four sessions from Dec 4 to 5.

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