41,000 runners at event to mark NS50

The Families for Life 800m Challenge (above) saw parents and children running together. Participants at yesterday's Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon also got to interact with the event mascots.
The Families for Life 800m Challenge (above) saw parents and children running together. Participants at yesterday's Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon also got to interact with the event mascots.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
The Families for Life 800m Challenge (above) saw parents and children running together. Participants at yesterday's Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon also got to interact with the event mascots.
The Families for Life 800m Challenge saw parents and children running together. Participants at yesterday's Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon also got to interact with the event mascots.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The annual Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon, which took place yesterday, turned 25 this year, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of national service (NS).

This year also included an NS50 Team Run, where 50 fathers and sons - made up of operationally ready national servicemen and their children in the National Cadet Corps (NCC) - took part, a first for the event. Past and present national servicemen also took part in the NS50 Team Run. Forming teams of 10, each runner completed a 5km route, together clocking a total distance of 50km.

More than 41,000 runners across five categories took part in the event.

The event was attended by Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung and Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman, who flagged off the NS50 Team Run and the Families for Life 800m Challenge respectively.

Among the runners was Mr Halmie Hussein Mattar, 40, who took part with his 13-year-old son Muhammad Hazim, an NCC (Sea) cadet.

Mr Halmie - a civil servant who is also a major (NS) in the 24th Singapore Infantry Brigade, serving as its chief of staff - also took along his wife Erniwati Abdul Rahim, a 40-year-old teacher, and their daughter Batrisyia Zahra, nine, to take part in the Families for Life 800m challenge.

"We decided to make it a family affair this year. We thought this was a good time to take part together as the run takes place after our children's (academic) tests," he said.

Another father-son pair was Mr Lee Kuang Chiaw and his son Zane, an NCC (Land) cadet.

"I got to bond with my father through this run. So I feel that it was quite meaningful as we are both usually quite busy," said 15-year-old Zane.

His father, a procurement officer, said running past the iconic landmarks in the city made his son better understand the place of NS in protecting the nation.

"I struggled through NS and, again, as an active serviceman, but looking back I really miss it, " said Mr Lee, 43, who completed his NS commitments five years ago. "Now it's up to the younger generation to take over and serve the nation."

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline '41,000 runners at event to mark NS50'. Print Edition | Subscribe