Running in memory of their late brother Zaki

(From left) Nabilah Huda Sapari, 19, a Year 3 Singapore Polytechnic student, with siblings Nabil, 21, NUS undergraduate Adib, 23, and Zakiah, a Year 1 student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. They competed in the Mizuno Ekiden yesterday to honour their late
(From left) Nabilah Huda Sapari, 19, a Year 3 Singapore Polytechnic student, with siblings Nabil, 21, NUS undergraduate Adib, 23, and Zakiah, a Year 1 student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. They competed in the Mizuno Ekiden yesterday to honour their late brother. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

They had each participated in fun runs individually but yesterday, they raced as a family for the first time.

While siblings Adib Sapari, 23, Nabil, 21, Nabilah, 19, and Zakiah, 17, are not seasoned runners, they each tackled just over 5km yesterday in the 21.1km race at the second Mizuno Ekiden at Marina Bay.

They did so to commemorate an absent team-mate - their late brother Zaki, a former record-breaking national hurdler who died in a motorcycle accident in 2014.

"Zaki was a serious athlete," said Adib, a mechanical engineering student at the National University of Singapore, who plays hockey and is also a silat exponent.

"I used to ask him for advice on training and conditioning if I ever needed to prepare for something physical."

"He would've told us to cut down on the Hari Raya goodies, because we've been indulging in them so much lately," added Nabilah, an interior design student at Singapore Polytechnic, as her siblings laughed.

"In fact, he probably would've brought us out and coached us for this himself."

But running will always be a bittersweet activity, especially for Zakiah, who is also a silat exponent.

"I like to jog; I find it therapeutic," said the Ngee Ann Polytechnic nursing student. "I always feel nostalgic every time I do something related to running - I can always feel Zaki's presence.

"I have a strong tendency to give up, but whether I'm walking or jogging, I always tell myself that Zaki will be waiting for me at the end of the road."

The winners of the 42.195km Open category, GC Team, clocked a time of 2hr 40min 26sec, while the Rabak rangerz (1:16:46) and Team COL (1:25:37) swept the golds in the 21.1km Open and Corporate categories respectively.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Running in memory of their late brother Zaki'. Print Edition | Subscribe