First in Three Decades

ansgar cheng runningThere has been a saying in Hong Kong relatively recently, which goes like this –  “How many decades does one have?” The answers would be: (1) Not too many, (2) No one knows for sure.

It was a few weeks ago over a casual conversation, that my wife, Moon, asked me whether I wanted to take part in the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA)’s 64th Cross-Country Championships 2015. The first question I asked was what distance was involved (5km), and the second thing I asked was when the race was to be held (February 7, 2015).

I thought to myself, “Cool. That is the day after my 49th birthday. 5km is manageable. Any longer distance off road may be too much for me.”

When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I participated in a few inter-school cross-country competitions. Unlike track runs, cross-country runs in Hong Kong are commonly off road, with steep uphills and downhills. There was no way to run and take it easy as it was constantly a matter of battling hard uphill and then hopefully getting a ‘recovery’ in the downhill or relatively flat areas. The torture cycle continued on until the race was over and one had to dig in deep and hard to survive it. Running well would require a lot of preparation, a small dose of luck, and good pace control. Last time I ran cross-country was February, 1984!

flexifitness cross country teamFor the first time in many years, I ran with a team. The FlexiFitness teams consists of a few teenagers and some very fast adults, including a national level runner, Mr. Lim TW, who represented Singapore to run in the Asian Marathon Championship on January 25, 2015 in Hong Kong. We also have a tall handsome Swiss man Mr. A Wenger, who has the capability to literally run around a few of us.

The run was at Bedok reservoir and I had never run there before, which is a good reason to hold back and take it easy. Not that I was lazy but rather, if I outran my own legs at the far end of the course, it would take a long time for me to walk back. That is not cool…lol… Anyway, the weather was cool and dry even though at one point the clouds were threatening to rain. Lovely all in all.

The overall fastest in the 5km run was a younger man who completed the event in under 16 minutes, which was mighty fast. Most normal human beings may not be able to keep up with him for 200 meters. However, I think the real winner was Mr. T. Seakens who won the Masters/Veteran category (runners over 35 years of age).

At 61 years of age, Mr. Seakens finished the 5km run in just over 19 minutes, ahead of almost one hundred younger competitors and ranked overall 34 in terms of time!!

In our group, we had ‘gor gor’ (big Bro) Andrew, who finished a little behind Mr. Seakens while Andrew was ahead of Mr. Seakens in the game of chronological travel. Gor Gor Andrew’s son is among the best Singaporean marathoners, now there is no doubt that Andrew gave his son many good running DNA.

I would say, my experience was totally positive in my first cross-country run since 1983. It is also confirmed that my parents also gave me some very good genes, or else how the heck could I run cross-country in Singapore at this stage of life?  I have to thank them for it. Of course, my supportive family (wife and kids) helped too. I could not have run if they were not fully behind me all the way.

This just reminded me of the Beatles classic (with a little twist). I thought to myself: “Would you be running, would you be sprinting, when you’re 64?”

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