Running mad: Hello Kitty guy fans sign up for 5km run

Bank service manager Daniel Lau (above), 28, a bachelor, owns more than 40 Hello Kitty plush toys and figurines. -- ST PHOTO: BENSON ANG
Bank service manager Daniel Lau (above), 28, a bachelor, owns more than 40 Hello Kitty plush toys and figurines. -- ST PHOTO: BENSON ANG
Finance manager Bobby Tan, 55, a married father of three, has collected more than 50 Hello Kitty soft toys. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Finance manager Bobby Tan, 55, a married father of three, has collected more than 50 Hello Kitty soft toys. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Mr Jason Chua (above), 37, a facility engineer, signed up for the run with his wife Jennifer, an administrative executive. -- ST PHOTO: BENSON ANG
Mr Jason Chua (above), 37, a facility engineer, signed up for the run with his wife Jennifer, an administrative executive. -- ST PHOTO: BENSON ANG

They are male and they love Hello Kitty.

About 3,000 of the 15,000 slots for the upcoming Hello Kitty Run on Nov 1 were taken up by men at pre-registration.

Although most are accompanying their wives and girlfriends, some are ardent supporters of the cat - or should we say girl.

Take Mr Bobby Tan, 55, who is married with three children - two sons aged aged 21 and 19 and an 18-year-old daughter.

The finance manager was among the first to sign up for the 5km run after seeing a Facebook post last month. He says unabashedly: "I simply must have the limited-edition plushie that will be given out during the race for my collection."

He has been collecting Hello Kitty soft toys since 2000 when the craze hit Singapore.

He has more than 50 of these toys in his five-room flat in Yew Tee that are stacked on shelves in his daughter's room. "I tell everyone the plushies are for my daughter," he says. "I love Hello Kitty. She's adorable in every costume she wears."

But he is quick to add that he is just a regular guy. "I take part in at least 13 runs a year. I can run a 42km marathon in 5 hours and 10 minutes. Hello Kitty is just something that I like."

The rest of his family are not fans. Neither will they be running. Says his daughter Si Tong, a polytechnic student: "Visitors assume I love Hello Kitty but I tell them that it's my dad's collection."

"I don't ask him about the toys because it's his personal interest. But I think it's funny because not many guys like Hello Kitty, let alone at his age."

Her mother, Mrs Tan Hui Kuan, 48, an accounts assistant, adds: "Our family is very open-minded. What's wrong with men liking Hello Kitty? It's just a hobby."

Another Hello Kitty fan who signed up for the run is Mr Daniel Lau, 28, a service manager in a bank.

The bachelor, who owns more than 40 Hello Kitty plush toys and figurines, visited the Hello Kitty Sweets restaurant in Taipei - which serves Hello Kitty-themed food and desserts - in 2012.

He plans to visit the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town in Johor next month. He says: "I like Hello Kitty because it is a great collectible, like Garfield, Snoopy or Doraemon. My interest also helps me bond with my seven-year-old niece."

To those who might find his hobby strange, he says: "I always joke that I'm Dear Daniel, Hello Kitty's boyfriend. Naturally, I always want to be close to her."

Facility engineer Jason Chua, 37, signed up for the run with his wife Jennifer, 31, an administrative executive.

The couple, who have no children, have collected more than 20 Hello Kitty plush toys. They also own a Hello Kitty pouch, passport cover, ez-link cards, keychain and watch.

Says Mr Chua, who confesses to being the bigger fan: "I bought all the plush toys. I once queued three hours for one but I didn't mind because Hello Kitty is just adorable."

He adds: "Some women play soccer. Why can't some men like Hello Kitty? You live only once, so you shouldn't care what people think."

Thankfully, his wife understands his passion (or obsession) for Hello Kitty.

Says Mrs Chua: "I'm glad I found someone who shares my interest. It's hard to find a guy who likes Hello Kitty and even harder to find one who likes it more than me."