Athletics: Great time at Great Eastern Women's Run

From top: Participants commencing the 21.1km half-marathon at the Great Eastern Women's Run 2016 yesterday. Pacers with balloons, tutus and multi-coloured socks waiting at the start point before the race. Jo Un Ok of North Korea crossing the finish l
Participants commencing the 21.1km half-marathon at the Great Eastern Women’s Run 2016 yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
From top: Participants commencing the 21.1km half-marathon at the Great Eastern Women's Run 2016 yesterday. Pacers with balloons, tutus and multi-coloured socks waiting at the start point before the race. Jo Un Ok of North Korea crossing the finish l
Pacers with balloons, tutus and multi-coloured socks waiting at the start point before the race.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
From top: Participants commencing the 21.1km half-marathon at the Great Eastern Women's Run 2016 yesterday. Pacers with balloons, tutus and multi-coloured socks waiting at the start point before the race. Jo Un Ok of North Korea crossing the finish l
Jo Un Ok of North Korea crossing the finish line to win the elite category.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Olympians grace event which serves to raise awareness for women's health and wellbeing

Filipino distance runner Mary Joy Tabal cried for a week because she was disappointed after finishing 124th out of 133 competitors in the women's marathon at the Rio Olympic Games.

But Tabal was all smiles after completing the half-marathon at the Great Eastern Women's Run yesterday, even though her seventh-place finish out of 15 elite runners was three places below her position at last year's event.

The 27-year-old, who finished the race in 1hr 25min 8sec on a cool, breezy morning at The Float@Marina Bay, told The Straits Times: "I am happy even though (my position) was lower than last year's, but this is my first race after Rio so I expected it to be tough.

"It was a good competition, and when I crossed the finish line, I felt the greatness of competing with the other Olympians and the rest of Asia's elite runners."

Tabal, who is the Philippines' first Olympic marathon runner, says she gets inspiration from North Koreans Jo Un Ok and Kim Hye Song, who were first and second respectively in the elite category.

"It was really hard for me to catch up with them. But when I saw the way they pushed themselves during the race, I felt encouraged and inspired to do more so that I can do better in my next races," she added.

Other Olympians yesterday included Singapore's Neo Jie Shi, Cambodia's Nary Ly, Kyrgyzstan's Iuliia Andreeva and Kazakhstan's Gulzhanat Zhanatbek.

Jasmine Goh was the top local finisher in the elite open category, clocking a new personal best of 1:27.18. The 37-year-old, who took home a trophy and $3,500 for her effort, had initially trailed behind two of her competitors.

"They were in front of me and I was telling myself to just run my race, because we're ultimately just here to be pitted against ourselves," she said.

Emphasising that yesterday's victory was a bonus, the financial consultant added: "I always think it's not the best athlete who wins, but the best-prepared one."

Almost 15,000 women took part in yesterday's event, which is now in its 11th year, and it was indeed a happy morning for most of them.

They shook hands and exchanged high fives with one another as they crossed the finish line, with some runners donning tutus to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation and Women's Health Research and Education Fund.

First-time participant Cecilia Wong was one of those who sported a tutu during the individual half-marathon. "(This run) is about women supporting one another, and about feeling empowered from this support," said the 40-year-old innovation planner.

Apart from the half-marathon, participants also ran the 5km and 10km races, the latter being flagged off by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

The 100m Princess Dash for girls aged three to nine made its return after a successful debut last year.

Said Keith Chia, Great Eastern's head of group brand and customer experience group marketing: "We were very encouraged by the positive feedback of the (Princess Dash) and we feel it's something good to continue as it really helps to spread the message of wellness at a young age, and to inculcate healthy running habits from young.

"As a life company, we hope to inspire women from all walks of life to live great and live healthy for themselves and their loved ones."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Great time at Great Eastern Women's Run'. Print Edition | Subscribe