No dragging this ultraman down

This story was first published on Jan 6, 2015

Three nights a week, he drags a 20kg tyre through the gathering dusk at Upper Peirce Reservoir.

It is no ordinary form of exercise, but then Mr Lim Nghee Huat is training for an extraordinary feat - the gruelling Brazil 135+ ultramarathon.

An ultramarathon involves distances longer than the usual 42km marathon.

Not only will the 61-year-old be the first Singaporean to attempt the 281km route, but he also aims to do it in under 60 hours, which is the cut-off time for runners under the age of 60.

"It's the first time I'll be running a distance so long," said Mr Lim. "It's like seven marathons at one go. I don't know how my body will react."

An editor with Chinese current affairs television at MediaCorp, Mr Lim is a father of three and has three grandchildren aged two to 22 months old.

He has been running for 43 years and has completed seven ultramarathons, including the 217km Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, California, reputedly the toughest foot race in the world.

As with his previous ultramarathons, Mr Lim will be running for charity. This time, he hopes to raise about $150,000 for the Singapore branch of the non-profit Christian housing organisation Habitat for Humanity.

The funds raised will go towards Habitat's home-improvement projects in Singapore, as well as overseas trips to build homes in poverty-stricken areas.

The invitation-only race takes place in Sao Paolo, Brazil, between next Wednesday and Saturday.

Mr Lim has been training intensively since early last November, running 20km on week nights and 50-80km on weekends.

His tyre-dragging is meant to prepare him for the gruelling mountainous terrain. In total, the elevation distance he must conquer will be more than running up Mount Everest and down again.

As it is the rainy season in Sao Paolo, he anticipates having to brave flooded areas. He will also have to endure nearly three days without sleep.

Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who attended a charity lunch yesterday in support of Mr Lim, praised the ultramarathoner both as an example of active ageing and as a contributor to the less fortunate in society.

"There are many societies out there grappling with ageing issues," said Mr Tan.

"We are not expecting more elderly to run marathons, but [people like Mr Lim] demonstrate you shouldn't feel that as you get older, you are not able to contribute."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg

Click here to read about Mr Lim's progress in the Go50 Run project to mark Singapore's 50th birthday.