Being a regular marathoner for almost 3 decades, many people will be surprised to learn that Chan Meng Hui only started running seriously when he was 54, what many people consider their “twilight” years. Since then, Mr. Chan has clocked up some serious mileage, with 92 marathons completed under his belt. The energetic grandfather is currently training for his 93rd marathon.
The spritely 83 year old likes to keep himself occupied. When he’s not running, Mr. Chan manages his own courier business as well as being a freelance insurance agent. We had the chance to speak with him, and he was more than happy to share his experiences with us.
Although you have been running for almost 30 years now, I’m sure a lot of people would like to know: Was there anyone or anything that influenced you to run, especially at the age of 54?
I used to be a heavy drinker, smoker and party-goer from my 30s to my retirement at 55 years old. I would party till 4 am and go to work straight the next day. I can safely say I was very unhealthy. However, my life took a turn when I went for my post -retirement holiday in China where I met so many old folks who were extremely healthy and active. It was then I realised I needed to change my lifestyle. I did not want to be a burden to anyone when I was old, I didn’t want to have to worry. So I took up the easiest sport there is – running.
How was it like training for your first marathon?
It wasn’t easy at all. I would get tired and would start panting after just a mere few hundred metres. But my determination was stronger than my fatigue, and I pushed myself to be able to run the full 42.195km. It definitely took a lot of mental and physical determination. I completed my first race in 1956.
Any fond memories you have from the 92 marathons that you ran? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?
There have been countless stories, but here are the few that truly strike out. I was in Mongolia for a 100km marathon, and after running 66km, night fell upon us and the organisers told us, “We will now be providing you with a horse, a hunter and a rifle”. I was confused as to why the sudden ‘gifts’, and they explained that in the night, wolves would wander these areas and so we would need to protect ourselves from them if we wanted to continue. I most certainly did not want to be imported meat for Mongolian wolves and so I had to stop.
Another marathon experience was one that was held in Berlin. I brought a camera along with me and was so captivated by the beauty of the country that I kept on stopping to take pictures. Little did I realise that I was the last runner, until the sweeper bus came. I was so embarrassed, but I did get my awesome pictures anyway!
What does your family think of your running achievements? Do you have any family members running with you?
My family is very supportive, especially my wife. She loves it when I go running since I won’t be around to quarrel with her. Haha! My children are very busy though and usually will not have the time to go running with me, but one of my sons and grandson does run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathons with me.
Any goals you keep in mind when you run (Or what do you tell yourself to keep yourself running)?
I keep thinking of family, health and my friends. With all these, you will live a very joyful life. You will have no worries, you will not be lonely and with great health, you will not have to worry about being a burden when you are old. And these are the goals I think about when I run. It is so peaceful and just keeps you worry-free.
Can you give us an idea of your weekly training program?
I run at least 5km every morning and evening. And on Sundays, I will join my friends from MR-25, with which I am a member of and run 25km at MacRitchie Reservoir.
What about your diet? Any special must-take foods before or after a run?
Honestly, I eat anything and I do not count my calories. But, I eat about 6 small meals throughout the day.
Do you have any running advice for us? What about for those who are middle-aged and want to try running?
If you want to try running, grab a friend and go running together. That way you can chat and laugh and enjoy the run. They key is, run to enjoy. Also, run on softer grounds like at routes around reservoir to prevent any injuries to your knees.
The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2013 falls on 01 December. Registration for the 42.195KM full marathon ends on 30 September.