Singaporeans know a thing or two about loyalty, but is it possible to remain loyal to a running event for a decade when life’s pressures are so distracting?
It is if you’re Danny Asmara, a dedicated teacher who loves the outdoors and exploring the world. Danny also loves to push limits. Travel. Swim. Motorbike. Run triathlons, aquathlons, duathlons, obstacle races and indulge his creative side as a photographer.
Yet no matter how packed his schedule gets, he hasn’t missed a Sundown Marathon Singapore since the event’s inception in 2008, which is why he joins the elite band of nine ultra-loyal runners we are proud to salute.
RS: How long have you been running and doing marathons?
Danny: Since 2008. Coincidentally, the Sundown was my first marathon and since then, I’ve tackled every type of athletic competition under the sun. If something new comes along, I’ll try it!
RS: Why do you like running?
Danny: It allows me to collect my thoughts and de-stress after a long day at work. Running also offers chances to visit new places when I run overseas. Further, running is a simple sport. The athletic shoes go on and off I go.
RS:: Do you run alone or with others?
Danny: I run Sundown Marathons with close friends. I ran with a good friend at the first event in 2008. We spurred each other on to finish in seven hours. In 2012, I ran with another friend; it was his first marathon, too.
RS: You appear to have a history of introducing friends to running — true?
Danny: It is. Running alone during one’s first race is daunting. It’s good to have company for any number of reasons. That said, I run lots of races solo because I strive to run the best race I can and a new personal best is a nice bonus.
RS: Which Sundown Marathon category do you prefer?
Danny: I run the full marathon or higher. My first represented a huge personal challenge and a reaffirmation; I had just regained full mobility after five years and five surgeries following a motorbike accident. I could have opted for a shorter distance, but my motto is “Go big or go home!”
RS: Ever challenged yourself to longer distances?
Danny: Yes. A friend said that running back-to-back marathons was beyond human and couldn’t be done, so I signed up for the 84km to prove him wrong! With that distance conquered, I said, “Why not the 100km Ultra that included a 100km single run?” The 100km was on my bucket list anyway. Finishing validated my belief in myself as an athlete.
RS: As one of our publication’s 9 ultra-loyal Sundown Marathon subjects, what does this event mean to you?
Danny: Sundown has obvious sentimental value since it was my first, but this event has given me opportunities to further my back-to-back objectives. In 2013, I ran the Sundown Half-Marathon on Friday and Full Marathon on Saturday. Then I doubled down in 2015, running a 10km followed by the full marathon. It was twice as much fun! These Sundown experiences have made me the runner I am today.
RS: How has this iconic marathon evolved over 10 years?
Danny: It’s grown in terms of size and popularity and serves as a “role model” for other night runs in Southeast Asia. I’ve admired the organiser’s creativity over time; I love the catchy themes like Beat the Sunrise, True Colours and clever slogans about nighttime running.
RS: Can you share with us which edition of the Sundown Marathon was the most memorable and why?
Danny: The 2008 run. Having survived those post-motorbike surgeries and five years of recovery to run my first marathon was unforgettable. I should add that I was sleep deprived and it poured with rain during the last 5 km or so. Finishing was emotional, convincing me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
RS: What inspires you to join the Sundown Marathon every year?
Danny: Sundown delivers a quality race experience down to a great design on the finisher t-shirt and medals. I like the generous cut-off time. It benefits first-time runners. I’m not usually sentimental, but with each year’s Sundown, I relive the race that started my running career.
RS: What’s on your list of must-have gear when you run?
Danny: A small pouch to carry keys; run visor to keep sweat out of my eyes and the sun from my face; sport shades; money and I always wear calf sleeves to reduce muscle fatigue in my legs.
RS: What are your biggest running achievements?
Danny: There are several. The 100 km Sundown Ultramarathon 2013. Finishing 14 full marathons in 2014. Competing in three back-to-backs races three days: Viper Challenge Medini, Borneo Marathon and 50h Non-Stop Run which cumulated in a total distance just shy above 100km.
RS: What have you done with all of your Sundown Marathon finisher medals, bibs and tees?
Danny: I framed the medals until I had too many, so now they reside in a big box. I scan and archive bibs and keep them in my digital repository. When you’ve run 301 races like me, who has room to display that many? I wear my t-shirts because they’re comfortable and I take pride in them. My favourite? The 2008 shirt, of course.
RS: If you were named race director, what changes would you make to future Sundown Marathons?
Danny: I echo the sentiments of other ‘pioneer’ Sundown marathon runners: we’d like to return to the original Sundown route that went from Changi Village to East Coast to Bedok to Pasir Ris – and back to Changi via park connectors and the Bedok Reservoir. I would name the next edition “Sundown Marathon: Homecoming,” because it evokes nostalgia for those of us who ran the Sundown during the early years.
RS: If you could give advice to a new Sundown runner, what would it be?
Danny: When the run gets too hard, you must think hard about why you started before you consider quitting. When everyone around me starts to quit, I refuse to stop! Remember, too, that the sun seldom sets for those with a purpose.
RS: What or who inspires you most of all?
Danny: The so-called Average Joes and Janes who decide to make a difference in their lives by getting off the couch and adopting a healthier lifestyle — those who think they may not be able to win, but who compete anyway.
RS: What do you hope to achieve in 2017?
Danny: I hope to stay healthy and injury free so I can continue to inspire others. I will continue on my quest to reach a 100-marathon milestone. I once read that more people have climbed Mount Everest than completed 100 marathons. As you can tell, I thrive on dares. My own Everest is that 100 marathon goal and I’ll do it for sure.