A spirit of sporting enthusiasm surged through the city of Singapore this morning as more than 70,000 runners thronged the streets in the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon's (SSBR & AHM) 20th Anniversary. Images of excitement, determination and exhilaration were set against Singapore's iconic landmarks including recent developments such as Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer and, for the first time, Gardens By The Bay (Bay East).
The 21-kilometre AHM competitive and non-competitive run were flagged-off by Chief of Army MG Ravinder Singh and Chairman of the Organising Committee, BG Perry Lim respectively while the SAFRA 10-kilometre Race was flagged-off by Minister of State for Defence and Education, Mr Lawrence Wong. The 5-kilometre Fun Run was flagged-off by Minister for Defence and Guest of Honour, Dr Ng Eng Hen. Commenting on SSBR & AHM 2011, Mr Wong shared, "This is an excellent platform to bring our NSmen and their friends and families together to exercise and enjoy the city. There are 20 icons to commemorate our 20th Anniversary. For the NSmen it gives them a sense that when you serve your NS this is what you're defending and this is what you're fighting for so its something quite special."
First time participant 2LT Randall Quek, from 30th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers enthused, "I feel a great sense of achievement. AHM has given me an experience that I would not otherwise have as I never thought of running a marathon on my own. The route was challenging but rewarding as it brought us through uphill slopes in the Fort Canning Area and iconic landmarks. The leg cramps and fatigue threatened to hinder my progress slightly after the midpoint but I think sheer determination carried me through to a better than expected timing."
To recognise the months of training put in by our Army's running talent and encourage teamwork, awards were presented to the fastest runners and Army formation teams. Members of the 2nd People's Defence Force team which has consistently done well each year, were proud that regular team training helped many of them set a personal best record. LTA (NS) Colin Tung said, "I did a personal best of 1hr 14 minutes, bettering my previous timing of 1hr 18 minutes. I'll put it down to consistent training with my mates. I'm grateful for the many friendships built through training together over the last months."
Others also overcame personal difficulties to achieve worthy accomplishments. Mr Md Shariff Abdullah, whose prosthetic leg did not deter him from completing the 21-kilometre AHM, espoused, "It is tough running on a prosthetic leg but I want to inspire people. I want to show everyone that if I have a disability and can run the 21-kilometre, they too can overcome their challenges with perseverance."
SSBR & AHM 2011 was more than just a running race. Themed "Celebrating 20 Years of Fitness, Bonding & Fun", the event included a flourish of carnival activities and street-side festivities. The Marina Barrage and Gardens By The Bay East were illuminated with a display of lights and luminous 1.5-metre kites hovering in the sky. Cheer posts along Marina Boulevard also kept the spirits of runners up during the race while the inaugural Dads for Life 800m Father and Child Challenge and other carnival games ensured that there was something for families and friends as well.
While it gave veteran runners the opportunity to forge yet another good race on a refreshed running route, SSBR & AHM 2011 was also an extraordinary race for the ordinary civilian. Mr Tan Soon Nguan who ran the 21-kilometre and participated in various games with his family, commented, "This was a memorable family event for us. We all took on a challenge together and we all made it to the finish line." His son, Kenneth Tan, added, "Its the energy of the large crowd running together and the festive atmosphere that kept us going as one."