Chicken Soup For The Runner’s Soul

A Collection of Anecdotes from Inspirational Runners was put together by Adrian Mok, the creator of Sundown Marathon, in tribute to the event.

RUN SINGAPORE BY | UPDATED 6 YEARS AGO

Words Champa Ha

Back in the day, we used to have Chicken Soup For The Soul. It was a book full of short, inspirational, and often Christian stories about people that touched lives, about people at their lowest point clawing on to survive until one aspect changed their lives and helped them crawl out of the dark pit of depression.

Well, we didn’t really have one for runners, especially in a local context. Which, when you think about it, is quite lacking. How is it that in a very literate country like Singapore, not many have thought to make a collection of inspirational short stories all about running?

Then, that very book was published this year.

Runnerdotes: A Collection of Anecdotes from Inspirational Runners, was written by Adrian Mok, an Ironman triathlete, businessman and family man. Known as the creator of the Sundown Marathon, the man has gathered nine other runners to tell their stories, and with the help of The Nutgraf, a content agency that has writers on their side, the group were able to compile a series of stories about these runners and their experiences running in the Sundown Marathon.

Adrian himself writes the beginning and ending chapters of the book, providing the premise of how he had the idea for a night marathon, as well as the reason why he keeps the Sundown Marathon going even after 10 years.

These stories are written in the style of interviews, nothing that would seem out of place of a magazine or a newspaper. The stories go through the histories of these runners, how Sundown played a part in their lives, and how running helped raise their personal profiles and influenced their life choices.

The selection of runners chosen for this anthology is full of known names in the local running community, including recent SEA Games gold medalist Soh Rui Yong, long-distance runner Mok Ying Ren, and Olympian Neo Jie Shi, who have all been interviewed for this book. In all the stories, the runners talk about their struggles, their experiences and their history in running. Some stories have the runners sharing their tips and secrets to being able to keep on training, a sure mode of inspiration for runners looking for a little guidance.

While the stories are written to motivate people to start running, what is lacking in the book is perhaps heart.  Each chapter is written with the air of someone else writing their own perception of the runner’s history, and the reader’s need to relate to the runner featured is found lacking, because of the ‘outside looking in’ perspective.

Some will argue that other runners have had the same treatment when their story is written, especially in newspaper headlines and magazines, and it has not reduced the inspirational aspects of their story one bit. This will definitely be subjective, so if you find joy reading stories of people like Melvin Wong and Jeanette Ng in an interview format, then the narrative format will work fine for you.

However, if an anthology of stories from inspirational runners is to be written, it might work better if they were written from the first-person narrative of the runner. The fact that this did not happen seems to be a bit of a wasted opportunity, especially since they have managed to gather nine of Singapore’s most influential runners together for this project.

Stories to look out for would be Ashley Liew’s account on why he started running and what’s kept him going despite a rather slow start into the game, as well as Neo Jie Shi’s experiences running in the Olympics representing Singapore.  Ashley started his love of running through the wish to lose weight, and Jie Shi managed to qualify for the Olympics Marathon category through no training with anyone other than her own love for running.

Their stories are the basis where movies would have been made from:  an achievement from nothing but through grit and determination. Yet from these stories, one gets the sense that these two are humble - Ashley is quick to credit his coach for his running, and Jie Shi mentions her employer for being understanding and giving her the time needed for physiotherapy and weekly massages to recover. They, along with the other interviewees in the book, are down to earth runners with the singular goal of running their best utmost in their minds.

Runnerdotes: A Collection of Anecdotes From Inspirational Runners is available on the RUN Shop at $24.61, and showcases how these runners persevere in search of success, with the hope that this book can inspire others to overcome their challenges and achieve their dreams.

Verdict: 3.5/5

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