The Doctor Said: “You Can’t Run the 2016 OSIM Sundown Marathon,” but He Wouldn’t Listen!
As a salute to runners who haven't missed a Sundown Marathon since it was launched in 2008, we interviewed the 3rd loyalist Mr. Yeo Kim Kiat to hear his personal story!
Yeo Kim Kiat isn’t the sort of fellow who likes his plans to be cancelled. The 50-year-old Quantity Supervisor at Takenaka Corporation had no idea when he ran his first Sundown with his brother-in-law back in 2008 that he was starting a tradition, but the event became so important, he ran every Sundown since.
Mr. Yeo thinks positively, works hard, reads, plays chess and loves other people. At the top of his list? Running, of course, so when his doctor said, “No running,” after he suffered an injury, Mr. Yeo said, “Nothing’s keeping me from the 2016 OSIM Sundown Marathon.” Guess who won the argument?
RS: How long have you been running and taking part in running events?
Mr. Yeo: I started running back in 1978. At the time, Singaporeans rarely participated in long-distance events, but I was hooked after taking part in my school’s running event and doing a walkathon organised by the Community Centre.
RS: Why do you like running?
Mr. Yeo: To be honest, I really don't know why I like to run! I guesses I just like to move my legs. That being said, after running, I always feel so much more relaxed and happy.
RS: When you run the Sundown Marathon, are you alone or do you run with someone else?
Mr. Yeo: I learned about Sundown Marathon from my brother in-law. Together, we completed our first two in 2008 and 2009. He decided to stop participating in 2010 because he was unable to find time to train properly, so I started running the Sundown alone. That said, I never feel lonely because so many Sundown runners are my friends on Facebook. I really treasure the way we motivate each other during the run.
RS: Which Sundown Marathon category do you usually choose and why?
Mr. Yeo: I run the full marathon. This is the only Singapore Marathon that allows me to avoid the hot sun.
RS: What does the Sundown Marathon mean to you? How has this iconic marathon evolved over the years?
Mr. Yeo: The Sundown Marathon has become my annual fitness indicator, so it means a lot to me. I understand that Sundown has become Asia's largest night marathon and recently expanded to Penang and Taipei, but I believe that there is still room and time for Sundown to evolve into an ultra-marathon in Singapore.
Mr. Yeo: My most memorable Sundown is the latest one—the 2016 edition. I trained hard and my ankle was badly injured at the end of April. My doctor advised me to rest and not to run long distances, but I was quite insistent and told him, “I cannot miss OSIM Sundown marathon 2016.”
RS: Did you go against doctor’s orders?
Mr. Yeo: [Laughs] Actually, I made both of us happy. Instead of participating in the 2016 OSIM Sundown Marathon as a runner, I volunteered to help the SAFRA Running Club manage the support station. We offered drinks, coffee and muscle gel to both SAFRA runners and other contestants at East Coast Park near C4 (approximately 10km and 26km mark) from midnight to morning.
RS: Clever idea; did you help with anything else?
Mr. Yeo: Since I wasn’t running I had the opportunity to practice my photography techniques when I wasn’t helping runners. Hence, this was my most memorable and meaningful Sundown "run."
RS: What inspires you to join the Sundown Marathon every year?
Mr. Yeo: It’s nothing complicated: what drives and inspires me is simply my desire to continue improving myself as a runner.
RS: What are some of the items you require to make your running a more pleasurable experience?
Mr. Yeo: I definitely must have a water bottle, especially when I run long-distance events. As I am a slow runner, I frequently face the problem of reaching a water station only to find that they have run out of water!
RS: What are some of your running achievements/proudest moment?
Mr. Yeo: My proudest moment was when I completed Sundown Marathon 2012. Rain was falling during that year’s race and it made the road very slippery. Instead of looking for shelter, I partnered with a fellow Sundown runner to keep going in the rain. We walked, ran, talked and cheered each other on until we both reached the finish line. Even though it took us 8 hours to complete the full marathon, I am proud that I did not use rain as an excuse to give up. Importantly, I resisted the temptation to go home—even as I passed by my house twice along the route!
RS: What have you done with your collection of Sundown Marathon Finisher medals, bibs and tees?
Mr. Yeo: I keep my Sundown finisher medals in a box until someone declares a “medal recycling campaign.” For hygienic reasons, I discard my bibs after races, but my Sundown t-shirts go on to live useful lives: I continue wearing them, donate them or sell them.
RS: If you were appointed race director, what changes would you make to upcoming Sundown Marathons?
Mr. Yeo: Nowadays, runners acquire too many running t-shirts. If I was named race director, I would recommend replacing event tees with event shorts. Also, I would like to introduce a finisher bag or other running product in place of finisher t-shirts.
RS: If a new Sundown runner asked you for your best advice, what would you tell him or her?
Mr. Yeo: My advice would be: love yourself, your family and your friends and make your own safety a priority. I say this because so many runners pursue personal bests or new events, but some fail to take reasonable precautions. This lesson resonated with me when I heard about the loss of an ultra-runner in Mt. Kinabalu recently.
RS: What or who inspires you the most in your life?
Mr. Yeo: My religious beliefs inspire me most of all. I believe that love, hope and peace help me face all types of challenges.
RS: What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
Mr. Yeo: I want to stay injury-free next year and achieve a personal best at the 2017 OSIM Sundown marathon. I’d also be happy if opportunities arose to run marathons in other countries.
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