It was an honour and a rather great amount of stress when Coach Pek Ya asked me to be her buddy for the Extraordinary Run.The run was part of the SEA Games Torch Up! initiative organised by the founders of The Living! Project to increase the involvement of the community in the 28th SEA Games. I was rather reluctant to join at first, worried that i would not able to keep up with the other runners due to my low fitness level. Coach Pek Ya encouraged me to just try, to take that step of faith, because how would i know whether i could or could not do it otherwise?
A group of 28 runners was selected from a pool of applicants. From the start, the goals of the run were made very clear. There were 3 main goals: to run past all 28 Torch Up! art installations, to complete the route within 3 hours and lastly, but most importantly, to finish the run as a team. With these in mind, the runners started to prepare and train together. At the first training session, I discovered that the team was made up of runners with different fitness levels and running experience. Some, like me, had never run more than 10km, whilst others were seasoned runners with a few marathons under their belt. That being the case, Coach Pek Ya decided not to start us off straight away on the full distance of the route. Instead we only ran 8km at the first session. Oh, do not get me wrong! I still wheezed and heaved like a dying rat after the run, but 8km is less daunting than 15km, and finishing 8km helped me believe that i could push myself to do more.
Over the course of 5 weeks, Coach Pek Ya gradually increased the distance that we covered from 8km to 12km. These gradual increments allowed the runners who were less fit to slowly and comfortably work towards running the full 12km. Personally, it also helped me to be more confident in my ability to finish the run. However I believe that ultimately it was team spirit that really enabled us to finish the run together. During the practice runs you would always hear encouragements being shouted and if you fell behind, the others would slow down for you to catch up. It was very heart-warming to see the stronger runners running alongside the weaker runners and giving them encouragement and tips on how to breathe or run. The community spirit was really what allowed me to keep pressing forward whenever I felt like giving in to my aching muscles and stopping.
The weeks flew by and the day of the run came very quickly! Thanks to good weather, the run was went smoothly and we even had some respite from the sweltering heat due to the cloudy sky. Everyone was in high spirits before the run, determined to complete the run as a team. By the time we reached the Helix Bridge for the last lap of the run we were all quite tired; but hearing the cheers from the crowd who had come to support us (including students from MINDS), we dug deep and found the energy to press on. We were reminded that this was more than just a run. This run expressed the unity of Singaporeans!
The final passing of the torch to the leaders of the communities was a very memorable moment for us. It marked the end of the part we played in the Torch Up! initiative, the moment that proved that all our had work had played off, and that we had done our country and it’s people proud.
Participating in this run taught me more than just how to complete a 12km run. It taught me to have confidence in my ability, it taught me that hard work does pay off and most importantly it taught me the importance of unity among the people. It truly was an “Extraordinary Run”!
Reflection by Isabel Lim Si-En, Participant of Torch Up! Extraordinary Run 2015