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Running in Singapore: Run For Hope for National Cancer Centre


People run for all sorts of reasons – to stay fit, to keep their weight down, or simply to spend some quality time on their own. For many hundreds of thousands, it’s a way to raise funds and awareness for a worthy cause. VERNE MAREE looks ahead to the 2012 Run for Hope on 18 November.

I was a South African party-girl in my late twenties with a pack-or-two-a-day habit and a slight morning wheeze, when I signed up with a beginners’ running group that my wonderful friend and neighbour Jackie had just joined.

After the initial shock to the system, it was a surprise to find that running seemed to suit me. Unlike ball games, it required no skills beyond putting one foot in front of the other. I could do that! And I could do it either with a group or alone, almost anywhere I found myself, the only essential kit being a pair of trainers and a high-impact M&S sports bra. In order to feel better and go faster, I soon quit smoking for good.

Getting used to Singapore’s heat and humidity when we moved here 12 years ago took some doing. But in time the body adapts, to a point; and I learnt to go out either early in the morning or after the worst heat of the day.

Fast Facts

* There are two categories: 3.5K and 10K.

* Registration is $45 for adults or $35 for groups of 20 or more; and $25 for ages 5 to 18

* Run For Hope is organised by staff from the National Cancer Centre (NCC) Singapore, the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and the Regent Hotel

* For every dollar raised, 70 cents goes to the NCC Research Fund.

* Last year, the run raised $235,000 for cancer research.

* Registration at www.runforhopesingapore closes on 31 October, but you can make an online donation anytime you like.

A dozen years ago, the annual run in the East Coast Park to raise awareness and funds for cancer research – known today as the Run For Hope – was one of very few events on Singapore’s running calendar. Now, of course, you can choose between dozens of races of all lengths and descriptions, from the JP Morgan corporate team-building 5.6km bun-fight to the Sundown 100km Ultra Marathon.

For 2012, the Run For Hope has moved from its traditional home to a more central and accessible start at the Padang and a new route around the Marina Bay and Kallang River area. Though baby prams are no longer allowed, it’s still billed as a “non-competitive leisure run”. What that means is that entrants’ times are not recorded, so no one has to know how long you took – a boon for beginners!

The organisers hope to attract 10,000 runners, one for each of the 10,000 Singaporeans who are diagnosed with cancer each year. If you’re in search of a reason to run, I can’t think of a better one.

Remember my friend Jackie? A few months after we’d started running together, she found a breast lump. She finally succumbed to cancer after five supremely valiant years of breast surgery, chemotherapy, reconstruction, remission and devastating relapse.

Oddly, it never occurred to me until now that she is part of the reason I run; I just never made that connection. Jacks, this one is for you.