Running by trust and not by sight

The Singaporean team of Goh Giin Huat, Marc Chiang, Ong Hock Bee and Kelvin Tan will be running at July's Mizuno Ekiden for the first time.
The Singaporean team of Goh Giin Huat, Marc Chiang, Ong Hock Bee and Kelvin Tan will be running at July's Mizuno Ekiden for the first time.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Staying true to the spirit of ekiden - a relay-style long distance race requiring team-work and trust - four visually-challenged runners and their guides will participate in their first relay marathon as a team.

The team consists of Goh Giin Huat and goalball players Marc Chiang, Ong Hock Bee and Kelvin Tan, all of whom represented Singapore at last year's Asean Para Games. Alongside them as guides will be Jeffrey Leow, Chun Hua Tiong, Nicky Kah and Ong Jing Ping. They will participate in this year's Mizuno Ekiden on July 16 at The Promontory at Marina Bay.

The Mizuno Ekiden sees teams of four runners competing in a relay race over 42.195km or 21.1km, with runners wearing a sash and passing it on to the next running team-mate at the transition point.

The quartet met through Running Hour, a group made up of physically and visually challenged runners and guides who train together with them. They train thrice a week at the Sports Hub.

Age has not slowed down 51-year-old Hock Bee, who has ran in marathons like the Sundown Marathon and Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

Hock Bee, the eldest in the group, was born partially blind and lost his sight completely at 27. He said: "We've all done marathons before but only as individuals. This ekiden run gives us the unique opportunity to get in a race together and finish it as a team effort."

Guide Jing Ping, 29, added: "This ekiden run will be a new experience as the guide acts as the visually challenged runner's eyes. There's a lot of trust between us, and our buddy must feel comfortable and safe around us throughout the run."

Into its second year, the Mizuno Ekiden will also feature a Japanese-themed race village at the finishing line. Registration closes today. For more information, visit www.mizuno.asia/Ekiden.aspx

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Running by trust and not by sight'. Print Edition | Subscribe