It figures that Clement Woon works for an energy management company. His personality is so energetic, he could light up the Singapore skyline. He jokes that age diverted him from his former fascination with softball, at which point, running made an exciting substitute. Woon’s first-ever 42km was the first Sundown Marathon Singapore run in 2008.
He’ll never forget crossing that finish line! This high-powered, healthy athlete enjoys the occasional beer-, wine-, burger- or chicken wing-binge with friends. Self-admittedly outgoing and stubborn, when he sets a goal, you’d better get out of his way!
RS: How long have you been running and taking part in running events?
Mr Woon: I started running in my late 20s to stay in shape as I became less involved with competitive softball, so running marathons filled some of that gap. At first, I ran short distances (10km) and then moved on to the 21 km. Coincidentally, my first mega-run was at the first Sundown Marathon in 2008. I registered for the 42km and haven’t looked back since.
RS: What was that first Sundown Marathon like for you back in 2008?
Mr Woon: That inaugural run was a killer! I was totally battered; five days following the race I could still barely walk. But, I never considered any other distance categories at that point. My reasoning was simple: If I’m going to run as a hobby, I need to be challenged if I’m to improve. Running is both a mental and physical challenge, especially in the early hours of the morning when my brain is in shutdown mode!
RS: Why do you like running?
Mr Woon: Because I can allow myself the luxury of going at any pace or distance I choose; the flexibility of having a choice, because I never know how my work day will go. Some days, I need to push harder and on others, not so much. Staying in shape influences my pace, too.
RS: Do you run marathons alone or with others?
Mr Woon: More often than not, I run alone. I encourage running buddies to participate by urging them to soak in the atmosphere, no matter what distance they choose. Being in the company of thousands of runners from all walks of life is inspirational and motivating — for me and for my friends.
RS: What does Sundown Marathon mean to you?
Mr Woon: I’m nostalgic about Sundown Marathon because it kick-started my drive to run longer distances. I enjoy looking back and recalling how the Sundown started. If memory serves me right, the 2008 and 2009 races required runners to tackle a couple of overhead bridges halfway into the course, and back then, we ran through busy residential areas as well.
RS: How do you think this iconic marathon has evolved over time?
Mr Woon:: For one thing, we now run a mostly-flat circuit with the exception of the Sheares Bridge climb early in the race. And compared to past years, the number of international runners attracted to this event has grown dramatically. Competitors come from all over the world for this unique event.
RS: Which Sundown Marathon year remains the most memorable and why?
Mr Woon: I’m sure I’m not the only Sundown loyalist who says this, but for me, the most memorable year was the first; 2008. Despite the fact that it totally exhausted me, it also proved to be a great wake-up call: That race taught me that if I really want to do something, I can do it!
RS: What inspires you to run Sundown Marathon every year?
Mr Woon: It has become routine; a MUST DO every year, so you might say it has become a habit — but a good habit! Next year, I intend to rope my 7-year-old boy into doing the Fun Run. I’ll do the 42km without him later.
RS: Are there any “must have” items you require when you compete?
Mr Woon: Music. When I have to run without it, it’s just not the same. The right music at the right time boosts the overall experience for recreational runners like me, and it can save the day when things get difficult, especially during a daunting 42km.
RS: Can you describe your running achievements and proudest moment?
Mr Woon: I would have to start with my first overseas marathon: the Berlin Marathon. To be there and run with like-minded runners from around the world was so memorable. Berlin was very well organised and supported by the public. I also attempted the Jungfrau Marathon in Interlaken and ran the New York City Marathon last year. All of these are personal highs.
RS: What do you do with your collection of Sundown Marathon finisher medals, bibs and tees?
Mr Woon: Everything is nicely tucked into a corner of my wardrobe, but I must admit that some of my finisher and event t-shirts and memorabilia are still in their wrappers.
RS: If you were Sundown Marathon race director, what changes would you suggest for future runs?
Mr Woon: I would keep the current route, but strive for better crowd control coordination. It can get messy at the start when late runners try to get through the crowds and into the start pen for flag offs. Otherwise, I congratulate event organisers on a job well done. From what I’ve experienced, every year improves by leaps and bounds. I mean, you cannot satisfy everyone, right?
RS: If you were to give advice to a new Sundown Marathon runner, what would it be?
Mr Woon: Soak in the atmosphere and have fun running. I urge everyone to enjoy the view of Singapore at night!
RS: What do you want to achieve in the year ahead?
Mr Woon: I hope to continue running year-after-year; to improve my run times and enjoy the freedom I feel every time I put on my running shoes. I was excited to hear that RunSociety is going to give anyone who reads this interview a 10-percent discount when they register for the OSIM Sundown Marathon 2017. What a great thing to do!
Have you given up another sport and substituted running? What made that decision for you — health, age or a unique reason you don’t mind sharing with our readers?