ST Run: A race for runners… and folk from all walks of life to enjoy
In 1987, Ee Ah Seng ran his first marathon, at the age of 41. Three decades later, he is still going strong.
Yesterday morning, the wispy-haired 72-year-old retiree completed 18.45km in under two hours at The Straits Times Run.
Mr Ee, who runs about 10km daily on weekdays and 21km on Sundays, is a loyal ST Run participant, having taken part every year since the inaugural edition in 2013.
"I really enjoy the atmosphere at the ST Run," he said as he took in the post-run mood at the National Stadium, where participants were treated to a breakfast, and had a chance to win prizes from presenting sponsor Panasonic at its game booths as well as join in a mass cool-down routine. "Even though there have been changes in the venue of the runs over the years, the route is always nice and scenic."
Mr Ee was one of 4,500 runners who took to Nicoll Highway before the break of dawn yesterday to start their 18.45km journey, created as a nod to the year ST was founded.
This year's ST Run, which attracted 13,000 participants, returned to the Singapore Sports Hub after two years away. The race ended at the F1 Pit Building in 2016 and the Padang last year.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, the guest of honour, flagged off the 5km race before joining the crowd.
She praised the "pleasant and relaxed" atmosphere of the ST Run, which saw children as young as four take part. "It is great to see people of different backgrounds coming together here today," she said. "I've seen grandmas run with their grandchildren, school teachers running with their pupils, and also stroke patients going through the 5km and enjoying the walk.
"I also really like the lead-up (to the event, with stories) encouraging people to adopt a very active lifestyle in preparing for the run."
There were also plenty of colourful characters to brighten up the mood. "Superheroes" were spotted - in the form of runners who donned Iron Man, Spiderman and Superman costumes.
Mr Poon Zi Li, who was decked out in a Captain America top and helmet, was among the first few finishers of the 18.45km race. The 39-year-old, who ran his fourth ST Run, said: "The finish at the Sports Hub is something that is different from other races, and nice to have."
However, he pointed to some parts of the route which could have done with "more marshals" as some runners were confused by the turns. Other runners, meanwhile, noted that certain parts of the race route were narrow, even if this did not result in congestion.
The ST Run is known for introducing refreshing changes every year and this year was no different. For the first time, post-race massages were made available to 18.45km and 10km runners at the OCBC Arena Hall 1, next door to the National Stadium, and these proved a hit.
Ms Kaori Tamada was one of those who endorsed the rub-down she received at the Tiger Balm Active Massage Pavilion. The 48-year-old Japanese expatriate, who last week ran in the Beijing Marathon in China, said: "The ST Run is one of the best runs in Singapore, and is very well-organised. The massage service was very good. It was a perfect way to end the run.
"I will recommend that my friends in Japan who are planning a trip to Singapore time it with next year's ST Run."
For many, there was an added reason to join the ST Run; similar to last year, $1 of the fee from every paid registration is set aside for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Over $28,000 was raised in total.
This year's ST Run also went greener. Fraser & Neave (F&N), producer of the ST Run's official hydration partner 100Plus, and local green initiative group Green Nudge both made it easier to recycle aluminium cans, plastic bottles as well as banana peels.
Technician Aiman Jaffar, 44, said: "Having the volunteers holding up bags and signs helps us be more aware of the little things we can do to help the environment."