Fresh off a 40-day high-altitude training stint, Singapore's fastest active marathoner Soh Rui Yong is eyeing the national half marathon mark in today's San Jose Rock N' Roll Half Marathon .
The national best mark stands at 1hr 7min 29sec, set by Mok Ying Ren in 2013. Said 24-year-old Soh, whose personal best is 1:08:15: "I'm feeling pretty fit after training here for 51/2 weeks, and I'm looking forward to the race.
"The whole idea is to run smart, something my coach Ian Dobson has also emphasised. If I find a group (with the right pace) that I can run with, I'm confident I can take off and break the record."
The San Jose event is his first race since training in the hilly terrain of Flagstaff, Arizona, which is around 2,130m high.
The race will start about 8am in San Jose, meaning he will run in the cool California morning, with temperatures around 18 deg C. Soh, who holds the national 10,000m record, is confident his recent training will help him nail the mark.
At Flagstaff, the venue at which he also trained before winning the SEA Games title in June, he clocked 11 runs and two gym sessions over six days each week.
The University of Oregon student also hopes to use the race to secure a berth in the Singapore team for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff next March.
If chosen, it will be his third straight outing at the biennial world meet, after he participated in the 2012 and 2014 races.
Singapore Athletics can send only two athletes for the event. Should more than two meet the qualifying mark, the top two ranked runners within the qualifying period will be nominated.
All these are milestones in his training plan as he aims to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics.
Mok is also training in the United States with the same objective.
The qualifying mark is 2:17, well under Murugiah Rameshon's national record of 2:24:22, set in 1995. Soh's personal best is 2:26:01, while Mok's is 2:26:30.
Nevertheless, Soh is convinced a good showing today will push him close to the qualifying mark. He said: "Every race is a stepping stone towards the bigger goal. If I can hit 1:08:30, running 2:24 in December shouldn't be a problem."