Sunny Tan

Killing two birds with one stone

Mr Sunny Tan, 41, started taking running seriously during national service. He ran his first marathon when he was 26.
Mr Sunny Tan, 41, started taking running seriously during national service. He ran his first marathon when he was 26.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

While his wife and toddler were still asleep in their resort room in Phuket, Singaporean Sunny Tan crept out at 4am to run a marathon.

Six hours later, he got back in time to have lunch with them.

The 42km Laguna Phuket Marathon last year took him through local villages as well as pineapple and rubber plantations.

"I felt that I got to see Phuket in a more intimate way, as tourists don't usually visit these areas," says the director in a security company.

While he was running, his wife took their daughter, who is now 21/2 years old, swimming and they played at the resort's kids' club.

Marathon holidays are a way of "killing two birds with one stone", the 41-year-old says, in that they combine sightseeing with the achievement of completing a race.

After the Phuket marathon, his family enjoyed the holiday portion of the trip.


His wife, 41, is a teacher and seldom takes part in marathons.

He says he was "never the running sort" and started taking it seriously only during national service.

In 2002, at the age of 26, he took on his first marathon, an overambitious move as he did not know at the time that he was flat-footed.

So he wore the wrong shoes and his knees hurt all the way. "I had to drag myself to complete the race," he says.

Two years later, when he attempted his next marathon, he was more prepared. He had attended a sports clinic, got the right shoes and read up extensively on how to run effectively.

Over the next few years, he joined several other races locally, but found them increasingly crowded.

That was when he started to explore running abroad.

In 2014, he ran the Penang Bridge International Marathon, whose route took runners across the city's then new 24km bridge.

Next up is the Kuching Marathon in August.

Whether racing abroad or at home, he will not be hanging up his running shoes for the foreseeable future.

"Running helps me keep myself from getting too fat," he says with a laugh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline 'Killing two birds with one stone'. Print Edition | Subscribe