One for the road
Dutchman Meijer aims to end running career at Singapore marathon - his 157th race
Albert Meijer writes about the races that he has run, and there have been many.
The 58-year-old Dutchman has 156 marathons under his belt, and he already has in mind the title for his next work: Mission Accomplished.
Believing his battered knees can't go on for much longer, he will be bringing his running career to a close at the Dec 3 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), in the 42nd country that he will race in.
"There is definitely sadness - it will be my last marathon - and running is just as important as eating and drinking for me, but maybe I'll have more freedom," said Meijer, a taxman.
"Running takes a big part of my life, but maybe I'll have more time for my family, work, and other hobbies. I don't think I'll fall into a black hole or anything like that."
Meijer's love affair with the 42.195km circuit started with short races. A 5km race became 10km, and soon he was going at it in the full Ironman, which includes a marathon.
He completed his first Ironman in 1992, but he has always preferred running over cycling and swimming.
"At first, I just wanted to run faster and faster, but when you get older, it gets harder, not so easy any more," he said, chuckling.
"I hit my best time early, about two years after I started running marathons - I did two hours and 54 minutes.
"I needed a new rush, so I decided to run marathons in as many countries as possible - that was the new goal for me."
Meijer has raced in countries such as South Africa and Lisbon, but he expects the Singapore event to be an especially emotional one.
"I'm sure when I'm running in Singapore, all my memories from all the runs I've done will be going through my head," said Meijer, who enjoys running in warm climates.
But the battle-hardened runner is not planning to take it easy at the SCSM.
He may have undergone three surgeries on his knees, and broken his hip from a cycling accident last year, but he still targets to break the four-hour mark in Singapore.
At the very least, he wants to beat the fastest time he has clocked since the hip injury.
But, if he fails to finish the race, he may just return to the SCSM next year to take care of the unfinished business.
Meijer professes to be stubborn like that, and relates an experience at the 2006 Monaco Marathon.
"After 8km, I stepped on a stone, fell down and damaged my ankle. I looked back at what I stepped on, picked up the stone and said to it - in my head, of course - I'm either taking the (finisher's) medal home with me, or I'm taking you home with me," he said.
After soldiering on until the 32km mark, the pain eventually became too much for Meijer, who was forced to drop out.
The story, however, doesn't end there.
He added: "In 2009, I went back there, and laid down the stone exactly where that fall happened. I needed to do it.
"If something like that happens in Singapore, I will come back, too. This last race has to be finished."