Para-sports: Training on land helps improve sailor Ng Xiu Zhen's stamina on water

Ng Xiu Zhen will be running at the 2019 Osim Sundown Marathon.
Ng Xiu Zhen will be running at the 2019 Osim Sundown Marathon.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/XIUZHEN NG

SINGAPORE - Being tossed around by waves and getting sun-burnt is par for the course for national para sailor Ng Xiu Zhen but a big part of her training is done on terra firma, which is why she will be running at the 2019 Osim Sundown Marathon.

The 34-year-old, who represented the Republic at the 2014 Incheon Asian Para Games and the 2015 Asean Para Games held on home soil in the Hansa 303 class, will run in the 5km category at the 12th edition of the event, which will be held on June 1 next year. The run will flag off and end at the Pit Building in Marina Bay.

For next year's event, the Osim Sundown Marathon will be partnering RunningHour, a club which pairs volunteer runners with the visually or intellectually challenged, for the first time.

Ng, who has cerebral palsy, is happy to be involved, saying: "Running keeps me healthy and fit. Sailors need strength and stamina to stay out at sea for long hours. So this 5km run is a good way to train.

"Also, I love running alongside my fellow para-athletes because we will run together. The group will wait for the slower ones."

Event organisers Infinitus Productions will contribute funds to the marathon's charity initiative, Sundown with Love. Some of the beneficiaries include the Singapore Disability Sports Council, The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and RunningHour. For every race slot purchased, $1 of the registration fee will be donated to the adopted beneficiaries, and runners will also have the opportunity to donate additional funds to the causes via the official event website.

The marathon's move to champion for greater inclusivity in sports was acknowledged by Kelly Fan, executive director of the Singapore Disability Sports Council.

She said: "2019 and 2020 are critical years which will see Singapore's top athletes vying for qualification to the Paralympic and Olympic Games, the world's most prestigious multi-sport events.

"This journey will be expected to be another tough cycle for us as a charity, as we support not only top para-athletes like (swimmer) Yip Pin Xiu towards their Paralympic qualification, but also enable talented youth with disabilities like (swimmer) Wong Zhi Wei to continue their pathways towards achieving that dream some day. We cannot express our appreciation enough to the organisers of Osim Sundown Marathon Singapore, for giving us a lift towards our cause,"

The inaugural edition saw more than 6,000 runners participating and the event attracted 25,800 participants last year, including runners from countries like China, India, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

There will be four ace categories next year - the 42.195km full marathon, the 21.1.km half marathon, the 10km Challenge (individual and Team of 4), and the 5km category which is open for both adults and children.

Darrell Low is a big fan of the Sundown series, having participated in every edition so far.

The 38-year-old lawyer, who also ran in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon since 2005, believes both the day and night races have their advantages.

He said: "For the Stanchart Marathon, you hope the weather will be cloudy. For the Sundown, you don't have to worry about getting baked by the sun but you hope that it will not be cloudy as the humidity can really hit you around 2-3am in the morning."

Low, who averages around 5 hours at the Osim Sundown Marathon, believes pounding the pavement in the humid tropical weather can have its benefits too when he races at cool climates.

He explained: "After getting used to Singapore's humidity, I would say I can shave off 30-45 minutes when I take part in the Tokyo Marathon."