SINGAPORE - Two Singaporean ultramarathoners started the most challenging run of their lives- 50km daily for 50 consecutive days- on Thursday morning.
Teacher Yong Yuen Cheng, 43 and media producer Lim Nghee Huat, 61, will be attempting this feat to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday and commemorate the resilience of the nation's founding fathers.
"What they did was great, it required resilience and endurance to overcome challenges and build the nation we enjoy today," said Mr Yong. "In our small way, we hope to inspire Singaporeans to remember that spirit," he added.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong flagged off the event, entitled Go50: A Nation in Motion, as 800 students from the Institute of Technical Education at College West cheered the runners on. Staff and students at ITE will take turns to run with Mr Yong and Mr Lim in these 50 days.
Despite having done ultra marathons of over 200km, both runners said 50km daily for 50 days would be "the most challenging run" so far. "Usually after running 50km, the body takes one or two days to recover," said Mr Lim. "But this time, we will be doing it for 50 days straight so it will be challenging," he said.
"We will be taking it slow for the first few days, because it will be unwise to tax your body and injure yourself," he said. "Hopefully by the fourth or fifth day, our bodies would be used to it," he said.
The most challenging thing would be battling the heat, Mr Yong said.
"It is not only hot but humid in Singapore, especially at this time,"he said.
"But we have special marathon clothing that helps us beat the heat and thick socks to ensure that we do not get blisters," he added.
Rain will not deter the runners who will run seven designated routes across the 50 days. If showers are heavy, they will move to an indoor track at the Sports Hub.
They will drink water and isotonic drinks regularly as they run. These are available from a supplies van that will follow them throughout the course. They will also snack on carbohydrate-rich fruits like banana, papaya and honeydew. "Some might get a stitch of they do that, but we have conditioned our bodies to take in energy as we go," Mr Yong said.
Jointly organised by ITE and non-profit group Heartware Network, the run will also see staff and students from partner organisations like Hwa Chong Institution pledging to run 5km at their own premises, in solidarity with the runners.
Singaporeans can also pledge a run in solidarity with the runners at www.go50.sg. They are, however, not encouraged to join the runners in person due to traffic and personal safety concerns.