Three friends in their 50s spur each other to walk 100km around Singapore in 24 hours

(From left) Mr Vijay Kumar with participants of a 100km overnight trek he organised - Mr Ong Chin Bok, Mr Steven Chee and Mr Alex Quah.
(From left) Mr Vijay Kumar with participants of a 100km overnight trek he organised - Mr Ong Chin Bok, Mr Steven Chee and Mr Alex Quah.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Three men in their 50s, who have walked together monthly for about 10 years, wanted to challenge themselves by walking a distance 10 times that of the maximum they had covered before.

That was the reason they signed up for a free 100km round-the-island overnight trek, which began on Saturday (Jan 6) at Raffles Place.

"We wanted to gain a sense of accomplishment, but we also believed in teamwork and encouraged one another," said technical officer Ong Chin Bok, 56.

"We speak the same language," added his friend Mr Alex Quah, 54, who is a counsellor.

Together with retired odd-jobs worker Steven Chee, 59, they were among the the seven who made the journey in a day, as of 10pm on Sunday (Jan 7). The group crossed landmarks like Changi Village in the east, Chinese Garden to the west in Jurong East, and HortPark in the south, on Alexandra Road, before finishing where they had started, in the city.

The seven were all that was left of more than 150 people who had started, with 27 making it to the 50km mark at Waterway Point in the north-east at Punggol. But not everyone had intended to complete the entire distance, though there was no time limit.

The event was organised by walking enthusiast and project manager Vijay Kumar, 36, who runs the SGTrek Expeditions and Adventures Facebook page.

The most challenging stretch for the three men was along Tanah Merah Coast Road, which was more than 10km long and took them about four hours to complete.

"From the start, we already knew we wanted to complete 100km, we just didn't know how long we would take or how we would do it," said Mr Ong.

Good pacing and sheer determination were some of the key factors that helped them to complete the journey, the walking enthusiasts said. They had to navigate their way using Google Maps, following the route planned by Mr Vijay, who himself had to drop out halfway at the 50km, due to a growing swelling in his right foot from an earlier sprain.

The finishers were rewarded with a T-shirt and a lifetime membership to SGTrek Expeditions and Adventures, which was started four and a half years ago and has a lifetime joining fee of $35.

Mr Vijay is planning a 50km walk in August as a more realistic target for more people to take part in.

The first to finish was Ms Vijayalakshmi Rajulupati, who is in her 40s. The assistant vice-president in a bank trained by walking five to 10km for two weeks every day before the challenge.

The Indian national said: "My husband and I have lived in Singapore for seven years and got married here and I love each and every bit of the life here, so it wasn't a boring walk for me."

She added: "If there's a chance to walk 200km for Singapore's bicentennial celebrations this year, I would be interested to do it."