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The Singapore Law Gazette

A Marathon Journey: From Health Scare to Hall of Fame

Crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, the beaming smile masks the pain within! The Boston Finisher medal is a beauty!

In the realm of life’s many unexpected adventures, many of my friends and family will agree that few tales resonate with the transformative power of determination, resilience, and the human spirit quite like mine. As a proud member of both the Singapore legal fraternity and an exclusive club of Singaporeans who have completed the Abbott World Marathon Majors, my story is not just about running — it is about overcoming, and it unfolded against the backdrop of the world’s most iconic marathons: London, New York, Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo, and Boston.

The Starting Line: A Wake-Up Call

My marathon journey began not on the track, but in a doctor’s office back in late 2017. An annual health check-up delivered a wake-up call: overweight and far from the “pink of health”, I was at a crossroads. The decision to change my lifestyle was immediate and irreversible, sparked by the realisation that the only limit to our capabilities is the one we place on ourselves. I started modestly, with brisk walks along the park connector network from my home to East Coast Park (ECP), progressing gradually to jogging, then running. The milestones came — first a 5km run, then a 10km, and a painstakingly completed half marathon along ECP. It was then I discovered the Abbott World Marathon Majors was a thing, setting my sights on a goal that seemed nearly impossible at the time.

The Race of a Lifetime Begins

London, April 2019, marked the starting line of what would become my race of a lifetime. Preparations involved meticulously crafted training plans and a weekly mileage that crept up steadily. Obviously being new to the game, I had to enlist the help and assistance of friends who were seasoned runners as I went about my training. Meeting the GOAT, Eliud Kipchoge, at the London Marathon race bib collection expo provided not just inspiration but a mantra: “Finish it and enjoy the run.” His precise words (to me when I asked him what advice he would give me as a first-time marathoner), alongside the electric energy of the London crowd, propelled me to finish my first marathon, an experience forever etched in my memory, along with Kipchoge’s autograph on my race bib.

My bibs from each of my 6 world majors, all sweat and blood stained! The bib from London is flipped the other way round revealing Eliud’s autograph

The Road Through the Majors

Each marathon that followed was a chapter with its own story, trials, and triumphs. New York tested my resilience with its daunting elevations, teaching me the importance of course-specific training. In Berlin and Chicago back in 2022, I basked in the beauty of the cities, their flat courses offering a semblance of respite but no less of a challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary halt to the world’s races, yet my training endured, adapting to the new normal. It was a tough period overall – I continued training not knowing when races and the majors would resume. The uncertainty was unsettling. Thankfully, come 2022 the races were back!

A freak accident at home before the Tokyo marathon in March 2023 tested my resolve like never before. A partial tear in my patella tendon meant a race (pun intended) against time to recover. The journey to the starting line was fraught with uncertainty, but the finish line in Tokyo was a testament to perseverance.

And then there was the Boston Marathon, the crown jewel, its prestige matched only by the difficulty of its course. I trained in Singapore’s Mount Faber and NUS (Kent Ridge campus) trying to mimic Boston’s infamous rolling hills, but nothing could fully prepare me for Heartbreak Hill, a steep half-mile uphill at Mile 20. Coupled with searing heat on race day, I nearly “pengsan”-ed at the summit of Heartbreak Hill. I needed a splash of cold water on my face to get going again. Crossing the finish line in Boston was not just about completing a marathon; it was the culmination of a fitness journey that transcended running.

More Than Just Medals

Standing among the giants in the international hall of fame, with Singaporeans having achieved this feat before me, I reflect not on the medals but on the journey. From a health scare in 2017 to joining the ranks of the world’s marathon elite, my transformation has been profound. I have to say that I am not an athlete by design; and to this very day, I sport an unusual gait and walk with a slight limp, remnants of a past injury. Yet, through sheer discipline and consistency, I achieved what once seemed unfathomable.

Proudly wearing my 6-star finisher medal. What a journey this has been!

Prized medals these, each tells a special story. Had to frame this for posterity!

A Call to Run

To my fellow members of the legal fraternity, I extend an invitation to all of you to embark on your journey of transformation. Running, with its simplicity and accessibility, offers a path to not just better health, but a more disciplined, focused mind. It begins with a single step, a modest goal, and the belief that the finish line is not just a place, but a promise of a better, stronger version of yourself.

As legal professionals, we are no strangers to long, arduous battles. The marathon is the embodiment of this endurance, a metaphor for the cases we fight and the personal challenges we overcome. In running, as in law, the victory lies not just in the outcome, but in the courage to start and the resolve to finish.

The Final Stretch

The Abbott World Marathon Majors was more than a series of races; it was my journey of self-discovery, challenge, and immense personal growth. It stands as a testament to what is possible when we dare to challenge our limits. For those at the onset of their marathon/fitness journey or any formidable challenge for that matter, I would say: remember that the path to success is paved with perseverance, de termination, and the unwavering belief in oneself.

As I share this narrative, I am reminded that it is not about the kilometres or miles covered, but about the moments that take our breath away, as cliché as this may sound — the crowds, the laughter, the pain, and ultimately, the triumph. To the 101 other Singaporeans (as at the time of drafting this) who share this achievement and to those aspiring to embark on this journey, know that every step contributes to a story uniquely yours — a story worth telling.

For now, I reflect poignantly in the afterglow of a journey that began with an initial step of determination and grit and which culminated in earning a coveted place in an international hall of fame. To all contemplating this journey, let running be your metaphor for life: endless, challenging, but infinitely rewarding.

Bumped into Eliud again, this time post the Berlin Marathon, and at the airport on the way home!

Co-chair, Law Society Sports Committee