August 14, 2023
SINGAPORE – After a trip to Paris Disneyland with his girlfriend to celebrate his 32nd birthday last weekend, Soh Rui Yong returned to his London apartment to find an envelope containing the race tag for an event the next day.
It was only then that he remembered he had signed up for Tuesday’s Sri Chinmoy Kangaroo Hop 5k, which he registered for to pace a friend who was aiming to run below 16 minutes in the 5km event.
Despite no preparations, Soh decided to give it a go even though his friend was unable to make it for the race at Battersea Park. The Singaporean ended up clocking 15min 15sec to finish third behind Nick Bester (15:06) and Matthew Rallison (15:12).
While it was a community event, Soh noted the competitiveness of the 5km road race, with 74 runners going below 17 minutes and 18 breaching the 16-minute mark.
Encouraged by this result, Soh, who holds the 5,000m track Singapore record (14:44.21), is hoping to go even faster when he competes in the Sept 30-Oct 1 World Athletics Road Running Championships in Latvia.
He said: “Given that I didn’t really know what to expect running this race, I just ran as hard as I could and got third, which I thought was a decent performance for a race that I wasn’t really peaking for and was doing as part of a session.”
While there were no national records for the 5km road race previously, Singapore Athletics said it “recognised Soh’s achievement” as it fulfils the criteria of having UK Athletics race permits and a course accuracy certification.
Soh, who is completing an internship in financial crime prevention, will return home this month. He will compete in the Safra Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon and Pocari Sweat Run Singapore before heading back to Europe.
The two-time SEA Games marathon champion is not part of the 413-athlete contingent heading to the Sept 23-Oct 8 Hangzhou Asian Games as he was not selected by the Singapore National Olympic Council.
But Soh, who had returned to the national fold at the Cambodia SEA Games where he clinched the 10,000m silver in a national record of 31:10.7 and finished fourth in the 5,000m, is looking ahead.
He plans to run in the Valencia Half Marathon and complete a marathon by the end of 2023.
He said: “At the end of the day, running is not something I do to compete, it’s something I do because I genuinely believe that everyone who has some form of regular exercise becomes a happier and more productive human being.
“During Covid, I didn’t train for a while and realised something was really lacking. I wasn’t my best self even though I had more time on my hands…
“I realised that there will come a day when I will hang up my competitive shoes – I don’t think that’s anywhere near on the horizon because I’m still getting better every year.”