It took Raymond Zhang seven hours to complete his first full marathon at last year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, and he suffered body aches after the race as a result of insufficient training.
This year, the quality systems and compliance manager is determined to cut an hour off his timing and avoid a repeat of last year's ordeal.
Such is his determination to prepare well that the 35-year-old was the first person to sign up for The Straits Times Run.
He entered in the 18.45km category two minutes after registration for the Sept 23 event opened at noon last Thursday. It will be his third time participating in the ST Run and he said the timing of this year's edition is most ideal.
"It's a good event to pace myself in the lead-up to the full marathon at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in December," he said. "It's a progressive build-up, you could do 18km in September and 25km or 28km in October, then maybe about 35km the next month and so on."
He first took part in the ST Run in 2015, when he also ran 18.45km with a friend of 18 years. That was the last time the event was held at the Sports Hub and it returns to the Hub again this year.
"We said we'd run 1km for each year (of friendship)... it's just about having like-minded runner friends and being able to do this while our health and physical fitness still allow for it that keeps me coming back," he added.
For financial consultant Keith Tiew, who is also participating in the ST Run for the third time, the fringe activities are part of the draw.
The 37-year-old is the first ST subscriber to sign up for the race, having registered at 12.11pm last Thursday. He - like all ST subscribers who sign up for the race - will receive an exclusive gym bag.
"The ST Run is very different from the other races I sign up for - those are mostly the same where you just run and go off after you finish," said Tiew, who runs an average of six races a year.
"At the ST Run, there are people playing music along the roads and there's a carnival at the end. This year there are also activities at the Sports Hub so as a race itself, it is quite different."
The father of three children aged three, eight and 10 noted that the ST Run could be improved by incorporating a kids' race.
"Maybe a race where the parents and kids can run together would be good and it would make the run a family event where the whole family can come together, instead of just the parents running," added Tiew, who will feature in the 18.45km race.
This year's ST Run comprises three categories - 18.45km, 10km and 5km. The build-up to the sixth instalment of the run will feature a range of fitness and lifestyle activities geared towards getting participants ready. These include a bike trail, a cooking class and an outdoor yoga session.
• Visit www.straitstimesrun.com for more information.