Runner sets record despite gastric attack

ST 20150602 VN47 1368306m

ULTRAMARATHONER Yong Yuen Cheng clocked a personal best timing of four hours and 47 minutes for his 50km run yesterday, despite a mild gastric attack.

He did this with the help of pacer Gerrard Lin, 31, who ran alongside and encouraged him all the way.

"I felt like vomiting a few times, but Gerrard told me when I was going fast or too slow, running at an irregular pace," said Mr Yong, 43, a physical education teacher at Hwa Chong Institution.

"A friend's encouragement does wonders."

Yesterday, Mr Yong and fellow ultramarathoner Lim Nghee Huat were joined by about 100 runners on their 47th straight day of running 50km.

These included running enthusiasts from Gei Gei Running Club, Mr Lim's church friends, and students from Hwa Chong Institution's canoeing club, whom Mr Yong coaches.

Both Mr Lim and Mr Yong are close to completing their goal of running 50km for 50 days straight to mark Singapore's golden jubilee.

"It is a great morale booster to have so many people run with us," said Mr Lim, 62, an editor.

He and Mr Yong adopted different running strategies yesterday.

Mr Yong and Mr Lin, the pacer, ran ahead as they wanted to clock personal bests while running a simpler route at Upper Peirce Reservoir.

Unlike other routes passing through busy urban districts, this one was shielded from roads and traffic lights which might slow runners down.

Mr Lim, on the other hand, slowed down to encourage his church friends and talk to them. "There are only three more days left, so I want to enjoy the process and the people who come along."

He completed 50km in seven hours and 43 minutes yesterday.

One familiar face was former civil servant and former People's Association chief Yam Ah Mee. While many runners dropped out at the 20km to 30km mark, the 57-year-old, who is also Mr Lim's church friend, ran the full 50km with him.

When he got a cramp at the 25km mark, he put on compression tights, which eased the pain and helped him complete the run.

"The runners really embody the spirit of resilience and 'never say die', which is the kind of spirit many of our pioneers had," said Mr Yam, who is now managing director at Sembcorp Design and Construction.

"Every time I felt like stopping, I just thought about the two runners - they are doing 50km for 50 days and I'm just doing one."

He had run a maximum distance of 21km before yesterday.

Mr Lim and Mr Yong got a massage from therapists at the Singapore Sports Institute yesterday.

Sports therapist Lynne Teo said: "I expected the runners to be in worse shape. For running 50km daily, it's amazing, their muscles are still quite supple."

Both runners were relieved to hear that.

Mr Lim said: "We need to know that our bodies are doing fine, especially in this last leg."

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