A dash to the dome makes memories for runners

HE HAS participated in over 100 running events around Singapore - which is why Mr Ng Siah Heng is on the lookout for a unique experience.

So when it came to registering for The Straits Times Run at the Hub, the self-employed 61-year-old did not think twice.

"Singapore is always changing," said Mr Ng, who ran with his son and two friends. "There are always new attractions coming up. We have the Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay and, now, the Sports Hub.

"We do not have the time to visit such attractions and they are not visible when you drive. Only by running can you slowly enjoy the sights."

Like many of the more than 21,000 runners, the main draw of the event was that it was the first to allow participants to finish in the National Stadium. But just as memorable was the scenic waterfront city route, which featured iconic landmarks such as the Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and the Merlion.

Eager and energetic competitors had begun arriving as early as 4am - 90 minutes ahead of the opening flag-off - along the Nicoll Highway start line to book the best spots for the 5km, 10km and 21km routes.

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Many took the opportunity to soak in the sights on a clear, cool morning.

IT executive Justin Leong, together with three friends, travelled from Malaysia to Singapore last Friday night just to participate in the run.

"We wanted to try something different for a change," said the 30-year-old. "It was a quick and fun way to see some of the attractions in Singapore."

While the National Stadium finish and the route were a hit, equally well received were the many colourful characters and celebrities at the event.

Even Wonder Woman was present.

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"I'm not going to make it on the podium, so I thought, why don't I make it more colourful for others," said Ms Fia Permadi, 42, who came dressed as Wonder Woman.

Several celebrities, including local actors Randall Tan and Darryl Yong and national footballers Izwan Mahbud, Isa Halim, Khairul Amri and Gabriel Quak, gave the run a glamour factor.

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"I am amazed at the turnout and it was really fun running with so many people," said Malaysian singer Issac Dang, who flew in from Taiwan for his very first outdoor run.

Mr Daniel Tan, director of Panasonic Singapore, noted: "It's great to see so many people engaging in this healthy lifestyle activity, which is in line with our branding objectives of 'A better life, a better world'. And I am sure many of them feel privileged to be among the first to run in this new iconic stadium."

The ST Run at the Hub is part of the Straits Times Appreciates Readers programme, an ongoing effort to reach out and better connect with readers and the community.

Bringing the community to the Sports Hub and its various facilities, which includes the National Stadium, OCBC Aquatic Centre and OCBC Arena, will be one of the key objectives of the multi- purpose venue.

Its chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik is looking at next year's SEA Games as an event to unite the country.

"(Come) create the excitement that even our competitors will fear," he said. "I'd say, come join us in the fun."

Heartwarming day spent with family

FOR many of those who joined The Straits Times Run at the Hub yesterday, the event was not just about clocking personal bests or finishing the race.

They saw it as a chance to enjoy a day out with their families - although not many families at the National Stadium arrived in such numbers as the Tans.

Dressed in pink, the Tan clan stood out - all 23 of them. Three generations were there, from the oldest, Mr Alvin Tan, 57, to one-year-old baby Ryan, who was carried by his parents through the 5km race.

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"This is our family T-shirt. Even when we go on family holidays, we try to wear the same colour," said project manager Tan Kok Ann, 51, adding that it gave them a sense of identity and unity.

The close-knit family meets every week for meals or simple get-togethers but, this week, they decided to do something different.

"We were taught at a young age to stick together and enjoy family bonding times," said Ms Joanne Tan, 27, who was part of a mega family selfie after the race.

"I want to teach my kids that growing up this way will make us better people - that's the most important thing."

Like the Tans, the Keks also found that sports can enhance family life.

"This is the first time we are running in such an event," said Mr Darren Kek, 37, who is self-employed.

He took part in the event alongside 11 of his family members, including his 66-year-old mother and his daughter, aged six.

"We wanted to set aside some time to gather together and have fun as a family," he said.

Other families were there simply as pillars of support and encouragement.

"We are here to support my husband - he's doing the 10km," said Ms Jennifer Ang, who was running the 5km with her son Russell, nine, and daughter Charmayne, 14.

Apart from cheering dad on, both kids were excited at being able to run inside the new stadium, said Ms Ang, who is in her 40s.

"They wanted to see the new stadium, and this is really different - you get to run inside."