As more than 12,000 eager participants gathered at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday morning for The New Paper Big Walk, so did the storm clouds.
Despite the downpour that lasted well past the planned flag-off time of 7.30am, many still held out hope for the skies to clear so they could embark on the 5km route.
But for the first time in its 25 editions, the Big Walk had to be cancelled due to lightning risk, which made it unsafe to proceed.
Mr Ramli Ahmad, 71, who has attended every Big Walk since it began in 1991, was dismayed that this year's walk had to be cancelled. Since 1994, the senior security officer at Amara Singapore has made it a point to create his own costume for each Big Walk, and this year, he collected 150 empty Yakult bottles and spent three days creating a reprise of one of his iconic get-ups.
He said: "I'm very sad because I prepared everything."
Despite the disappointment, the sprightly Mr Ramli already has his mind set on the next Big Walk, adding: "Next year, it will be something different."
The cancellation did not put off some Big Walk participants from getting their kilometres in, with many choosing to walk around the 900m 100Plus Promenade indoor track, which encircles the National Stadium.
ENJOYING THE OCCASION
There's nothing we can do about (the cancellation)... but we can still enjoy the carnival.
MR WILLIAM SEE, who travelled from his Jurong home with his wife Lacilia Toh, to take part in the walk.
Ms Nor Hida, 34, said it was unfortunate the walk had to be cancelled, but that did not deter the civil servant and her family, who had already completed two rounds of the track.
Carrying her nine-month-old son, Ms Nor said she planned to walk all 5km slowly, before getting breakfast and heading to the post-walk carnival at OCBC Square.
With free chilled drinks, cold desserts, games and lucky draws, the booths at the carnival by Big Walk sponsors - including Workforce Singapore, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, Osim and 100Plus - also helped to bring cheer to those who stayed behind.
Like many, Mr William See and his wife Lacilia Toh, both 50, were left disappointed after travelling from their home in Jurong to take part in the walk, but made the most of it by soaking in the carnival atmosphere.
Mr See said: "There's nothing we can do about (the cancellation)... but we can still enjoy the carnival."
Heartened to see participants sticking around despite the cancellation, The New Paper editor Eugene Wee said: "I'm glad that everyone still managed to have a fulfilling Sunday morning. We hope our readers will join us again for next year's walk."
• Additional Reporting by Jasmine Choong