Athletics: Injured patriarch's spirit and passion to spur Ng family in Stanchart marathon

Sports trainer Ng See Chye holds a banner of his father Ng Yoo Ay in action at last year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. He considers his father a pioneer in marathon running here as the latter had featured in the Singapore Marathon and Mobi
Sports trainer Ng See Chye holds a banner of his father Ng Yoo Ay in action at last year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. He considers his father a pioneer in marathon running here as the latter had featured in the Singapore Marathon and Mobil Marathon before that.ST PHOTO: NICOLE CHIA

Sports trainer Ng See Chye is a seasoned running enthusiast with over 30 years of experience and more than 30 marathons under his belt. But he is expecting this year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) to be one of his toughest races.

His 71-year-old father Ng Yoo Ay, also an avid runner, had been slated to run in the 10km category but is now in a coma after a road accident in September.

Said Ng, 49: "This year's run will be a hard one and it's not a happy occasion to celebrate, but my father's spirit and love for running will keep me strong in finishing the marathon regardless of the timing.

"It's been quite draining mentally and I hope I can finish the race."

Ng considers his father a pioneer in marathon running here as the latter had featured in the Singapore Marathon and Mobil Marathon before that. He has also completed six marathons.

The elder Ng will not feature in this year's SCSM, but he will still be represented by his family in the Ekiden category, where teams of six runners take turns to complete the 42.195km in a relay format.

After his father's accident, Ng had initially wanted to complete the full marathon wearing two number tags - his and his father's. But he decided to get his family of keen runners involved as well.

Ng will still compete in the full marathon but he has rounded up a team comprising his two cousins, cousin-in-law, wife, daughter and younger brother for the Ekiden. All of them will be sporting custom-made jerseys in honour of the elder Ng, and organisers have granted a fee waiver to the Ekiden team.

"This stressful period has been the worst three months, and I think we should focus on something more positive… it's time to get the family together to move our lives forward, and this is motivation for us," said Ng, who expressed gratitude to event organiser Ironman Asia for its support.

"It is the spirit of sport that will help our family move on, instead of dwelling on the dark side."

His father had introduced the marathon discipline and concept of long-distance running to him, but it was actually Ng who encouraged his father, who was in his 30s at the time, to run his first marathon.

Ng also recalled how he used to act as a pacer for his father while the latter prepared for races.

The elder Ng's passion for running has lasted over the past few decades - even during a recent trip to Taiwan in June, he took his running shoes with him and went for jogs before the start of his day tour.

"He's always liked travel, and recently he started bringing his shoes with him overseas and running there," added Ng, describing his father as a staunch Buddhist who is well-liked by those around him.

"During his stay in the hospital, we discovered he has a lot of friends we don't know about. Hopefully with the positive energy and thoughts generated, my father can miraculously regain consciousness."

Ironman Asia's managing director Geoff Meyer told The Straits Times: "Running can bring people together, through a sense of joy and hope. As part of the running community here, we felt it was important to help the family fulfil their father's wish and finish what he started."

Ng, recalling the lengthy conversations he used to have with his father about their favourite topics - running and football - said: "This time, he can only listen but he can't talk.

"I can only let him know how we did this year and how our experience was."