She doesn't have cold feet for bold feat

She doesn't have cold feet for bold feat
Last year, Ms Lau completed only 28km of the 42.195km marathon in the North Pole as her shoes were soaked in the snow and she suffered frostbite when she removed her fogged-up goggles.
PHOTO: Gloria Lau

While most people her age are slowing down, 64-year-old Gloria Lau is speeding up.

Since her first marathon in 2007, she has run in about 20 marathons in over a dozen countries across all seven continents.

Come April 9, the mother of two will take part in the North Pole Marathon. When she first attempted this last year, she did not complete the full distance of 42.195km.

She managed to cover 28km, and qualified for the Half Marathon Grand Slam Club - for those who complete a marathon on each of the seven continents and half a marathon on the Arctic Ocean.

She has been running to raise funds for charity - she said people can tell her which charity they want to donate to, and she will match the amount dollar for dollar. Through various marathons, she has matched about $150,000.

She told The Straits Times: "I feel it's unfair to contribute only to the causes I support. Any cause is a good cause."

When she took part in the North Pole Marathon last year, she was the oldest runner to attempt it. This year, besides Ms Lau, two other Singaporeans will be taking part in the race.

For Ms Lau, despite having run in Antarctica, she sees running in the North Pole as a different challenge.

"In Antarctica, the snow is more dense. But the snow in the North Pole is like icing powder. The moment you put your foot in, you just sink. Snow got into my shoes, and after a while, they became totally drenched," she said.

Her goggles also fogged up last year, and when she switched to sunglasses, her face was exposed and she developed frostbite. The wind chill also meant that temperatures fell further to about minus 55 deg C.

Given the low visibility and the slight hypothermia she developed, she decided not to stretch her run out to a full marathon.

Now equipped with a more suitable pair of shoes, she is determined to complete the full distance.

"I've only done full marathons overseas. It wasn't my plan to do a half-marathon," she said.

She was not always a sports enthusiast. She started exercising regularly when she was 56, after her doctor told her to do weight- bearing exercises as she had low bone density. She took long walks, but that got boring, so she started jogging and eventually ran in her first marathon in Perth in 2007, completing it in 4hr 50min.

Ms Lau, who runs a property development business, enjoys running overseas and sees it as a way of taking in the sights in ways not possible if one were to travel by car.

She has been running a marathon a month since last November.

"That also means I don't really have to train any more!" she said.

She hopes to motivate others in her age group to stay active. "In my daily life, I can deal with anything now after putting myself through all these challenges."

To support Ms Lau's fund-raising efforts, e-mail her at gloria235id@yahoo.com

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This article was first published on April 4, 2016.
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