Sports

Soh hopes for personal best at Saturday's world half marathon

As he prepares for the world half marathon on Saturday, Olympic hopeful SOH RUI YONG recounts his journey so far

From Kenya, I am on my way to Wales for my third successive World Half Marathon Championships.

The event will be held in Cardiff on Saturday and it will always have a special place in my heart.

It was where I first represented Singapore in international competition.

My first World Half Marathon Championships was in Karvana, Bulgaria, in 2012.

I met a group of Kenyans including Eliud Kipchoge - now a good friend and also the best marathoner in the world - and discovered how hard they trained.

While I was used to doing five one-
kilometre sets as a staple workout and up to 10 sets maximum, they often reeled off intervals of 12 or even 15 sets regularly.

I ran 60km a week, they chalked up almost 200km a week.

I met the "People's Champion", Yuki Kawauchi of Japan, a 2hr 8min marathon runner who reportedly works daily from 12.45pm to 9.15pm and yet manages to compete with the best in the world.

I also met Gi Ka Man of Hong Kong and Chang Chia-che of Taiwan.

Watching the Kenyans and the Japanese was inspiring, but knowing that folk from Hong Kong and Taiwan, with my kind of body type, could do well in distance running made me believe I could pull it off.

I set a new personal best of 1hr 12min 12sec in Karvana, and returned to Singapore more motivated than ever.

About 17 months later, I went for my second World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen.

I was no longer a runner trying to survive the race.

I had doubled my mileage to 120km a week and gone under the 70-min mark for the half marathon (1:09:15).

There was evidence to suggest that I might better my personal best.

I ran the race of my life and surpassed even my own expectations when I clocked 1:08:18.

I was just racing, trying to beat as many people as possible.

I couldn't walk properly for days after, because I had taken my body to far beyond what it was physically capable of.

That's the beauty of distance running. No matter how good or bad training is going, on race day, anything can happen.

Today, as I prepare for my third crack at the World Championships, I feel like my journey has come full circle.

SHOT IN THE ARM

In Copenhagen, I clocked a personal best, which was a huge shot in the arm, although I was still far back enough to remind myself that I had a long way to go to run with the best in the world.

I have trained in Iten, Kenya, for the past seven weeks, running 160km a week.

I don't expect to magically be able to run against the very best in the world just yet, but I know that I am stronger.

I feel tougher. I feel more confident than I did in 2012 or in 2014. I have grown as a person and a runner.

Even if I can't run with the world's best just yet, another strong performance and hopefully a personal best will leave me one step closer to the ultimate goal of qualifying for the marathon at this year's Rio Olympics.

I am proud to represent Singapore Athletics and I feel fortunate to pursue my career as a professional athlete with the support of main sponsors H-TWO-O.

I also appreciate the support from my friends and family, and other sponsors.

This Saturday, for the third time, I take on the world.

And I am honoured to represent Singapore.

  • Soh Rui Yong was talking to 
Sazali Abdul Aziz

I feel tougher. I feel more confident than I did in 2012 or in 2014. I have grown as a person and a runner.

—Soh Rui Yong, on training in Kenya as part of his bid to qualify for the Olympics

 

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