Into Pokémon Go? You Could Run Into Sundown Marathon Loyalist Loke Kai Hong, Too!
As the 2017 Singapore running season nears, 9 exceptional Singapore athletes are chosen as legends for running every Sundown Marathon since the race’s inception. Mr. Loke Kai Hong is our sixth honoree.
When the Sundown Marathon was conceived in 2008, getting the nocturnal event off the ground was a daunting experience for organisers.
A lot has changed since that premier run — economic fluctuation, changing social habits and enough progress to give futurists whiplash. But what has remained unchanged is the loyalty of people to the Sundown brand.
Among our faithful Sundown Marathon runners is Loke Kai Hong. The dedicated 60-year-old has lived through six decades of change, so he's not just fit, but wise, as well.
RS: Can you describe yourself for our readers?
Mr Loke: I’m an IT Support Specialist who works for a big multi-national oil company. While my job is demanding, I’m a quiet, jovial person at home. I like to think of myself as flexible and open-minded, and I think people who know me would agree. I like to focus on getting things done right the first time round.
RS: How about your interests outside running?
Mr Loke: My hobbies include collecting LPs and CDs, dining at nice restaurants and sampling good wines. I keep aquarium plants, and recently added shrimps to my aquatic community.
RS: How long have you been running and taking part in marathons?
Mr Loke: I've been running since 2003 when I participated in my first Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, which was a 10km. Since then, I have run many other events in the past 13 years. My first overseas run was the New Balance Pacesetters 30km in 2010. This race let me gauge whether I was ready to hold my own at home and overseas events.
RS: So far, where have your overseas running interests taken you?
Mr Loke: Hong Kong, Taipei, Paris, Berlin, the Gold Coast and Penang.
RS: Why do you like running?
Mr Loke: Let me set the record straight! I didn’t like running when I was in the army. But when a colleague asked me to join her for the first 10km run of my life, I said yes. Then she said, “We must finish in under one hour!” I guess I was up for the challenge, even though my only workout was running on a treadmill. There weren't many running groups back then. Oh, and I managed to finish that 10km in 58 minutes!
RS: Do you usually run Sundown Marathon alone or with someone else — and why?
Mr Loke:: I usually run with my gym friends, but lately, my primary running buddy is my good friend Andy Gwee. We’re very compatible and we both like to chit-chat the night away as we compete in Sundown Marathon each year.
RS: Which category do you usually join for Sundown Marathon and why?
Mr Loke: I prefer to run a full marathon because shorter distance races end too quickly.
RS: What does Sundown Marathon mean to you?
Mr Loke: Personally, it means I’ve had an opportunity to grow as a runner while the marathon has grown as an event. I like the fact that this race gives Singapore runners a second chance on the race calendar.
RS: How do you think this iconic marathon has evolved over time?
Mr Loke: The only thing I can think of is that the location has changed from its original route, but otherwise, it’s just got better and better in so many ways.
RS: Was one edition of Sundown Marathon more memorable than others? Why?
Mr Loke: The 2009 edition is the most memorable because the course was more taxing than the present one. After the run, I could indulge in nasi lemak at a nearby eatery before taking a bus or the MRT home. The 2009 finisher t-shirt is very nice, too.
RS: What inspires you to join Sundown Marathon every year?
Mr Loke: What I like best about Sundown Marathon, in addition to running at night, is meeting my friends; running with my kakis. Sleep can wait.
RS: What are some of the items — gear, etc. — you must have in order to run?
Mr Loke: I like a comfortable running top and running tights plus an Mpeg player and earphones. I also carry sweets, a fare card and some money, just in case I don’t feel well and need to leave the race before it ends.
RS: Could you share some of your running achievements and/or proudest moments with us?
Mr Loke: There are two that come to mind: Finishing the last Sundown 100km run and also finishing the MR25 trail run in the humid sun.
RS: What do you do with your finisher medals, bibs and tees?
Mr Loke: I keep my medals and tees in drawers at home as well as most of my bibs. I had to throw away the bibs from the first few Sundowns because they were made of paper. By the time I finished, my bib had practically disintegrated from sweat, wear and tear; I couldn’t salvage them.
RS: If you were named race director, what change(s) would you make at the next Sundown?
Mr Loke: I would love to see a wider berth for runners at this event. In Berlin and Paris, organisers close down up to 8 lanes of road so runners have plenty of room to manoeuver. Our roads are already narrow, and since one remains closed during the event for emergencies, runners don’t have enough space to spread out.
RS: If you could give one piece of advice to a new Sundown runner, what would it be?
Mr Loke: Get adequate training and preparation before Sundown Marathon and once you’re in the thick of it, run at a comfortable pace. And don’t forget to enjoy your run.
RS: Who or what inspires you most in your life?
Mr Loke: The runners I meet at events who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Many still compete in full marathons that last 3 or more hours and then cross the finish line with big smiles on their faces. They prove that despite one’s age, it's still possible to accomplish a lot.
RS: What do you hope to achieve in the year ahead?
Mr Loke: My primary goal is to train properly so I can participate in more overseas marathons next year — and I couldn’t possibly forget the 2017 Sundown — after all, that event has become a big part of my life.
Want to meet and run with our Sundown Marathon legends in March and get a 10-percent discount? Mention our magazine when registering, and then come and conquer the night with us.