September 23, 2018 Sunday


Singapore Sports Hub


From 4am

Published Sep 19, 2018

ST Run: Country president runs the talk

KLA-Tencor Singapore president Theo Kneepkens introduced mass running as an activity for his staff in 2006, to encourage healthier lifestyles. The US company, which provides process control systems for semiconductor and related industries, is taking part in the ST Run for the first time.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Muhammad Sazali Abdul Aziz

Theo Kneepkens is a leader who walks the talk, or more accurately, runs it.

The 50-year-old Dutchman, who has been based in Singapore for 18 years, joined KLA-Tencor to head its operations in the Republic in 2005.

A year later, the staff of this American semiconductor systems company headquartered in Silicon Valley participated in their first mass run here and have made this an annual tradition since.

An avid runner who competes in marathons and half marathons regularly, KLA-Tencor's country president wanted to encourage his staff to lead healthier lifestyles.

"It's good to stay fit, and I've tried to set an example too," he said. "To me, the idea of having the collective run was more of an encouragement for our staff to be a bit more active, and also for team-building."

This year, the staff of KLA-Tencor will make their first appearance at The Straits Times Run on Sunday. But before they set foot at the start line at the Singapore Sports Hub, they have already set a milestone.

They have registered 522 people in this year's ST Run - the largest number by any firm in the history of the six-year-old event, which is presented by Panasonic.

More significantly, of that number, 271 are employees, which is more than a third of the company's headcount of about 700. The rest comprise spouses or the company's customers, whose registration fees are paid for.

"There are many runs in Singapore but I felt the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and the ST Run are two that feel the most 'Singaporean'," said Kneepkens.

"We like the fact that the ST Run has a 5km category, which encourages participation and this is what we are pushing for."

"Also, I am very much looking forward to running the 18.45km race. I'm getting a bit old so when I run a (21km) half marathon I get tired in the last 3km, so this is perfect for me," he added with a chuckle.

KLA-Tencor regional director of Asia and Middle East facilities Yeoh Cheik How has been a part of the company's annual group run since 2010, when he joined them.

While he plays football, basketball and bowls regularly, the 48-year-old said he had never signed up for long-distance runs prior to joining KLA-Tencor. He said: "The goal for me was to do something new. I thought, 'Why not give it a try?'

"I later found that there is nothing stressful about running, especially when there is a festive family atmosphere, and a leader who tries to lead by example.

"We started small, with only a few participants, but have grown so fast and now we have more than 500. Running together really fosters a sense of belonging."


Go to the ST Run festival’s information booth from Sept 20 to 22 at the OCBC Arena, Hall 1 (10.30am to 8.30pm). There are three categories:

5KM: $50/loyal runner rate: $38

10KM: $60/$48

18.45KM: $70/$58