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Trailblazers100 – Adding Life To Days, Not Days To Life
14 September 2016

30 Trailblazers. 1,456km covered. $281,000 raised. All in the name of HCA Hospice Care’s patients.

The sun was beating down on the 30 Trailblazers100 runners over the weekend of 3 & 4 September, as they braved Singapore’s extreme heat and heavy downpours to raise funds and awareness for HCA.

The ultramarathon, Craze Ultra 2016, was definitely not for the faint-hearted. This year, many Trailblazers who ran 50km last year took on even longer distances. These brave runners conquered variable distances of 43km, 74km, 101km and 162km. Those who ran the longest distance of 162km did so with little to no sleep and minimal food.

HCA’s President, Dr Tan Poh Kiang recounts his 162km journey. “It was a very, very long race. However, I was prepared mentally and spiritually for an extremely epic journey. Day one was scorching hot, extremely humid and very, very tough. Along the way I made sure that there was sufficient hydration, refuelling of calories and icing of body to keep my core temperature down. But still there was a point where it became really tough at check point 5 at the 50km mark. Meeting the first group of supporters and being encouraged by them, having them pamper me through massage, providing me a change of clothes, feeding me with fresh fruits, ice water, not only refreshes the body but revitalizes the spirit to go on. Night came and the body was feeling the weariness. An unexpected angel, paced alongside me from check point 5 to check point 8, without whom, I may not have been able to continue the race. At mid-point, a group of well-wishers, friends, HCA colleagues and family turned up and that was so encouraging. I love it! The fact that I may be running this race by myself, but I am not doing it alone. There are so many people who embrace and support us to make this possible.”

Every Trailblazer was there on a mission – to run for the home hospice cause. However, for Trailblazer Dawn Ng, it was an extra special and significant one. She ran to honour her late father, Mr Ng Seng Boon, who was a beneficiary of HCA. The two shared a very close relationship and she was devastated when he passed away in 2012, after battling with lung cancer. Dawn fondly recalls how her father would protect her from the rod whenever her mum disciplined her in her younger days. They enjoyed cooking their favourite Teochew dishes, playing mahjong, and traveling around Singapore to hunt for local hawker food together as a family. Since his passing in 2012, Dawn shared that she had many regrets which prevented her from finding closure after her father’s death, “regrets of not being able to spend more time with him when he was healthy, regrets that he wasn’t able to witness my graduation, regrets of not having more family trips when we had the time.”

However, she discovered that through running, she was able to spend time alone and reflect on her thoughts and focus her mind on the future. During her 74km journey at Craze Ultra 2016, she said, “there are times I didn’t know if I could complete the race. There were also fears of DNF (Did Not Finish), pain, aches. But then I remembered what I had set out to achieve and that helped me to focus.” One of the most daunting parts of the run for her was at check point 1 and check point 2 along Jalan Ulu Sembawang, which stretches over 1.2km long. It was pitch dark, with no street lamps and there was an eerie silence of the trees. Thankfully, there was a fellow runner who accompanied her along that lonely road.

“Time can erode the pain, but the vacuum left behind is always there no matter what.” says Dawn. This is just the beginning of the healing process for Dawn, but the memories of her late father will forever be cherished deep in her heart, and this has molded her to become a stronger person.

Dr Tan also shared about a conversation he had with a patient under HCA’s care. “Recently I was chatting with a 70 plus year old man who was dying of stage 4 lung cancer. As his children were all away at work, he was alone with the helper. He told me that it was a very lonely experience day-to-day. But he looks forward to the visits from the HCA nurses, sometimes medical social workers and once or twice a week, he makes his way to our day care center. And he said that although he feels alone at times, he knows that he doesn’t walk this journey by himself. He is surrounded by loving family members and friends and support given by HCA staff and volunteers. And this is not really different from how an ultra runner prepares and takes part in a long race. Without the embrace, support and encouragement of our loved ones, people who are willing to pace us, we can start well but we cannot finish well. Which is why Trailblazers100 is such a meaningful campaign and movement for us. It brings together those who are hard core runners and those journeying at their last stage of life, facing similar struggles of pain. On our own, the journey will be difficult, but together, we can overcome it.”

HCA Hospice Care is grateful for the commitment and dedication by the Trailblazers100 team in helping to raise awareness and funds for our cause, for their trust in HCA, for their belief in our mission. We are also thankful for Running Guild’s partnership and for making this year’s Craze Ultra possible and to all the supporters who have taken their Saturday and Sunday to cheer them on.

To make a contribution to HCA Hospice Care and support our cause, you may call 6251 2561; visit https://www.giving.sg/hca-hospice-care/journey_with_trailblazers100_support_hca; e-mail info@hcahospicecare.org.sg, or send a crossed cheque made payable to HCA Hospice Care, with your name, NRIC and contact number, indicate “Trailblazers” at the back of the cheque and mail it to HCA Hospice Care, 12, Jalan Tan Tock Seng. Donations to HCA for Trailblazers100 fundraising closes on 30 September 2016.