SINGAPORE - In an attempt to start off the new year on the right foot, walking enthusiast Vijay Kumar has led more than 150 people to try trekking 100km around Singapore this weekend.
The intrepid group set off from Raffles Place on a cloudy afternoon on Saturday (Jan 6).
They walked counter-clockwise round Singapore at a pace of 4 to 5 km per hour, along a route with checkpoints like Marina Barrage, Changi Village, Punggol Park and Chinese Gardens.
They aim to return to Raffles Place on Sunday evening, 28 hours later.
Mr Vijay, 36, said he was only expecting between 20 and 30 people when he posted the event on his Facebook page “SGTrek Expeditions and Adventures”. This is the first time he has organised such a long walk.
And the project manager was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“It’s a very good sign that Singaporeans want to pick up trekking and hiking, and that they want to keep themselves healthy,” said the Indian national.
When he first started SGTrek Expeditions and Adventures, it was hard to get even 15 people to take part in walks.
Building manager Veera Kumaran, 48, joined the walk yesterday with his friends, lecturer D. K. Gowri, 46 and teacher Deborah Gomez, 43.
“We hope to walk the whole distance, and just want to see how far we can go,” said Mr Veera, who runs twice a week.
“We’ve never had this opportunity before, this event falls on a Saturday, and the best thing is that it’s free!” he added.
Not everyone plans to go the entire way though.
Human resources manager Cindy Lau, 40, said she would walk for as long as she could. This is her first time participating in such an activity, but she said she was not nervous.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’ll be fun,” said Ms Lau, who was with her friend, human resources executive Susanne Ng, 34.
Some were not sure how long they would last, but said they were determined to push through the night.
“I think the hardest part will be walking through the sunrise in the morning,” said marketing manager Angela Teo, 36.
She and her friend Tan Ker Yuan, 48, who is on sabbatical from her job as a senior finance director, said they are frequent walkers, but this was the first time they were attempting such a long distance.
Mr Vijay said that he started walking seriously more than four years ago – 11 years after coming to Singapore.
“In India I was used to big open spaces, and after some time in Singapore I thought it would be good to see nature and the outdoors.”
“I wanted to also create a platform where people here can go into nature, and to have the entire family come out.”
His group organises almost weekly walks that draw about 20 people each time. Most of the walks are free of charge, though the members who have paid a lifetime joining fee of $35 get perks like discounted rates for overseas trips.
Mr Vijay expects about 20 people to complete the whole 100km around Singapore.
And for those who go through sleep deprivation, monsoon rain and tropical sunshine with him, he said with a smile: “We’ll give them free lifetime membership.”