Stars and Crescent Shine for Debutant Benjamin Ooi at 2017 Ironman World Championships

Press Release for IRONMAN World Championship – Benjamin Ooi

KONA, HAWAII – 24 year-old SMU student triathlete, Benjamin Ooi, had an amazing debut at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and also his first ironman-distance event (3.9km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km marathon) to finish as top Singaporean male in an overall time of 10 hours 34 mins.

Joining Ben is also multiple Kona-qualifier and one of Singapore’s best female triathlete Choo Ling Er, who finished in 10 hours 32 mins.

As an ex SMU Aquathlon captain and water polo player, Ben was introduced to triathlon 2 years ago as a way of keeping fit for his annual army physical proficiency test (IPPT). Within that short span of time, Ben has gone from learning to ride a bike to racing the very best at the IRONMAN World Championship, a qualifications-only holy grail of triathlons.

Race Morning

The day started positively as the age group athletes were flagged off in waves after the Pro Men’s and Women’s race began at 6:35am. Ben showed his pedigree and water polo background, exiting the 3.9km swim in just over 62 mins along with a large pack of race-eager age groupers vying for position.                                                 

Heading into transition 1, Ben knew that he was the first Singaporean out of the water and stood a good chance. After coming in 2nd at his Kona-qualifying Hefei 70.3 race last October (which also happened to be his first ever 70.3 race), Ben had dedicated the past year getting ready for Kona. He even brought his bike along for his 4-month overseas exchange programme in Sao Paulo, Brazil (as part of his overseas exchange programme), so that training can continue uninterrupted. It shows the dedication and commitment he has in his pursuit of the sport.


Biking Through The Lava Fields

On the bike heading out to Hawi, the punishing headwinds and crosswinds were unforgiving and many athletes, including Ben, were starting to feel the effort. Uncharacteristically, Ben had to work hard to keep his focus just 40km into the bike. Perhaps the nerves were getting to this Kona debutante. 

Although Ben had clocked training rides as long as 160km, his packed academic schedule and congested roads in Singapore had conspired for a less-than-ideal prep on the bike. Ben had to reassure himself he had the legs just as the scorching lava fields were sapping his energy. Working through his hydration and fueling provided some mental respite as Ben tackled the elements and his inner monsters.

As is always, the return leg from the turnaround at Hawi, and then the last 50km, is where the damage is done as stronger riders start to pile on the pressure  before entering transition 2. With big gaps slowly opening up, Ben once again found himself stranded in no man’s land, mentally and physically, as he inched back towards transition. It was going to be a long day in office.


The Final Stretch

Once off the bike, Ben knew that he had his work cut out for him on the run. The abnormally hot weather at this year’s race, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees at the Energy Lab, had turned the run into a game of survival. Back on the tarmac in his running shoes, Ben felt the punishing 180km bike in his brick-like legs where every step felt heavy as lead. He made quick work to follow a group of strong runners as he settled into a strong pace. The race was approaching noon at this point, the unforgiving sun and heat giving running in Kona its infamous nickname – the ‘Ironman shuffle’.

Ben had flown into Hawaii earlier to acclimatize to the heat and humidity. His 20-hour training weeks, with runs that end as late as 1pm in Singapore and Sao Paulo, had also prepared him to face the tough and hot Kona. As a time crunched student-triathlete, Ben was always trodding a fine line between school, training, and the crucial 4th discipline of triathlon – recovery. Despite that, Ben professes it was not the allure of outgunning his competitors but bettering himself that drove him to this sport, and eventually led him to Kona.

“As an athlete, and in life, success is a matter of discipline and habit. Day in and day out, the open-ended challenge to better myself continues. I trusted my training and a little common sense to take me through the unknown come race day. Sometimes things don’t go flowingly, but I know my efforts have still made me a better athlete.

Shortly after the 21km mark, Ben still managed to stick together with the group as they try to conserve energy, mentally and physically, for the second half of the marathon and the Energy Lab –  an infamous 5-km stretch of heat and destitute. At the 28km mark, runners turn off the Queen K highway to complete a loop around the Lab and when they leave, they’re rarely the same. At this point, Ben knows it’s about finishing the run before it finishes you. He digs deep and knows that he must hurry, but more haste can mean less speed too. It’s a high-wire act of energy management in the last 10km, one that he has trained and rehearsed for the past year.


Finishing Down Ali’i Drive

As the Sun begins its gentle descent, Ben  finds the second wind he’s been searching the whole day. Covering the last 3km at 4:10min/km pace and with a final right turn down Ali’i Drive towards the coveted finish, Ben was greeted by his sister, Belinda Ooi, as well as brother-in-law and national marathoner ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren. Both of them had turned up to lend their fullest support for Ben’s Kona debut, providing valuable support as family and also professional advice as athlete, physiotherapist and doctor in company.

Ben is looking forward to enjoy the remaining of his vacation on the tropical sunny Hawaiian paradise before working towards a local race come year end, for a gratifying finish to what has been a long training season for him.

 

“Competing with the best here at Kona has given me an appreciation of the possibilities ahead. Very honoured to have raced with this bunch of dedicated triathletes. Last but not least, I’m unspeakably grateful to the throngs of supporters who lined the streets and livened up the race atmosphere, as well as to have had my family here cheering me on, and throughout the lengthy lead-up to this day!”

Benjamin will like to put on record his deep appreciation to his family and friends, as well as ONEathlete, whose unwavering support over the past year made today’s result possible.


For further enquiries, kindly email jed@onemanagement.sg. Thank you.

Whoever said accountants are plain characters?

IRONMAN World Championships Triathlete 
Managed by ONEathlete 
Singapore
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Whoever said accountants are plain characters? Not content in spending a day in and day out with his college textbooks, Ben joined set his mind on a new sporting challenge in triathlon and soon rose to captain his college Aquathlon team.
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2 years down the road, Ben qualified for the World Championship in his first 70.3 race at Hefei 2016 with a performance that bested other more experienced competitors. Perhaps coming from a background playing water polo similar to Ironman legend Dave Scott has had great benefits, or perhaps it’s his discipline for competition.
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Racing the Kona Ironman is doubly exciting for the young rising star of Singapore’s triathlon scene— an event of a lifetime, as it is—because is also to be his first full-Ironman race. Defying the odds is not new to the 25-year-old, born on a leap day.
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Since qualifying, Ben has pulled out all stops to excel atthe new substantial distance, including taking his training across the globe when he spent months living in São Paulo, Brasil as an exchange student. Racing has been a constantly evolving adventure he thoroughly revels in. No doubt his journey continues on after this World Championship.
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Look out for him in Kona, Hawaii and wave to say hi to this suave gentleman with a sunny disposition, or simply follow him on Instagram, @ironmanbooi for regular updates!

ONEathlete Marathoners join hands with ‘Blade Runner’ and Special Olympics 100m Dash runner at Heartstrings Walk 2017

SINGAPORE – This morning’s Community Chest Heartstrings Walk saw close to 8,000 participants, including members of the public, social service organisations and corporate partners who came together to provide opportunities for meaningful interaction among persons with different abilities. It also aimed to show how every person can be empowered to self-advocate, be self-reliant and give back to the community. This year, an increased number of beneficiaries, including persons with disabilities, seniors and youth-at-risk stepped up at the event to volunteer in various roles, such as teaching other participants how to play inclusive games and facilitate interaction.

 

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Athletes with different abilities also joined in to exchange sporting tips with event participants. Prolific marathoners (managed by #ONEathlete, a social enterprise), Evan Chee (4th in Singapore Marathon 2016) and Ben Moreau (Commonwealth Games participant, based in Singapore) as well as Md Shariff Abdullah, a para-athlete (affectionately known as “Blade Runner”) with a prosthetic leg, took part in the Fun Walk.

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They walked alongside 15-year-old Shawn Goh, a special needs student from MINDS Towner Gardens School who participated in the 100m dash at the Special Olympics this year. Diagnosed with a congenital intellectual disability, Shawn has managed to overcome the challenges he faced and pursued his passion for sports. Shawn’s infectious cheery disposition and affectionate demeanour caught onto the other athletes! These athletes demonstrated how sports and social interactions can be inclusive.

 


Evan Chee said, “It was heartwarming to see so many volunteers, partners and beneficiaries come together as one community to support the cause, and to even interact and understand one another.”

 

Ben Moreau highlighted the significance of athletes using sports and running to give back to the community thru events such as this. He added, “I’m glad to help in whatever way I can because everyone has a role to play. We can also seek inspiration from those who overcome their challenges in life, like Shaun Goh.” 
 

Other than the Fun Walk, the Sky Vertical Marathon up the Marina Bay Sands, and the family carnival was part of the charity event. The 4-km Fun Walk along the Waterfront Trail at Marina Bay was flagged off by Guest-of-Honour, Minister (Min) for Social and Family Development (MSF) Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. This is likely to be the last community event for Min Tan, in his capacity as Min MSF. Indeed a suitable swan song, as the event was helmed by the National Council of Social Services (NCSS), a statutory board under the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Min who initiated SG Cares (a national volunteering movement), will be moving onto becoming the 8th Speaker of Parliament in Singapore.

Highlighting the true spirit behind the event was the Chairman of Community Chest, Mr Phillip Tan (right of Min). He said, “At the heart of our community outreach and fundraising efforts is enabling a better quality of life for our beneficiaries. This year, we are involving our beneficiaries to take on more roles at the event. They are no longer just at the receiving end, but are empowered to co-create solutions and self-advocate. It has been a privilege for us to partner like-minded organisations to foster a more caring and inclusive society. Each of us can give back to our community and make Singapore a better place to live in.” 

ONEathlete x ONEteamsg Special – Jonathan Chong

We caught Jonathan Chong on a rare afternoon at home. The business major student is usually shuffling between school, work and canoe training. His well-built frame relaxes on the sky blue couch sofa as he stretches over for his favourite ‘SFO’ cushion. Say hi to Jonathan, the big friendly (and charming) giant.

Feeling blue from the onset of illness #restday #notraining #nowork #perksofbeingill

A post shared by Jonathan Chong (@jonathanchongzq) on May 16, 2017 at 3:50am PDT

 

Jonathan was relatively late to canoeing, having only started training at 17. Perhaps that’s what drives him to make the fullest use of his time, squeezing every bit of his youth and drive and walking the tight-rope between work, school and training. In between, he also keeps his sanity by having a social life, jet-setting and travelling, as well as spending time with his supportive family, friends (and books !?!)

Time management is critical for the achiever-go-getter, who jokingly shares that ‘time is just like a six-pack bod; squeeze hard enough and they will appear’. He also enjoys a flexible approach in his tight schedule and tries to ‘do the best with what he has’, although at times setting priorities and bearing with sacrifices is part and parcel of any dedicated athlete’s life.

Finally done with this week’s training #shag #sportshub #sprintkayak

A post shared by Jonathan Chong (@jonathanchongzq) on May 27, 2017 at 3:58am PDT

 

Short of possessing superpowers and more hours in a day than others, Jonathan thinks the key behind his passion and drive is what he repeats to himself. “Never give up and chase your dreams. A great deal of sacrifice is inevitable, but it’ll be all worth it”

As a canoeing coach at Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), one of the powerhouses in the sport, the 25-year old is also passing on these lessons and training ethos to inspire the next generation of canoeists. His decision to return to his alma mater speaks of his Confucian-steeped education: to be grateful and always remember where his roots lay. So far his efforts seem to be paying off, with HCI ‘A’ Division Boys winning their 8th straight canoeing title in Apr 2017.

👦🏻

A post shared by Jonathan Chong (@jonathanchongzq) on Sep 6, 2016 at 4:08am PDT

 

Looking back at his younger self, Jonathan is glad he has not left much room for personal regret. To him, that is the clearest reminder that he’s doing something right. That doesn’t include streaks of youthful craziness such as partying before championship races (yet somehow managing to pull through for a podium finish nonetheless!)

Throughout our interview, we can’t help but notice Jonathan’s soft-spoken demeanour hints at a closet introvert beneath his charismatic 1.78m muscular frame. He agrees that with age and moderation comes an increasing preference for more time to reflect and introspect. A cup of strong dark brew, a good read and a nice sofa. Pretty chill and laid back.

Jonathan will not be heading to the 2017 SEA Games as canoeing is not a participating sport. However, his training tempo has no intention of slowing as he works up towards his next…

ONEathlete up the game at The Straits Times Run in the City 2017


(photo credits: 100PLUS SG)

16 July 2017 – Mok Ying Ren finishes as top Singaporean in the 18.45km category of the Straits Times Run in the City 2017. His timing of 1:04:15 earned him a 3rd place finish, just 21 seconds behind the Kenyan Champion.  Mok was pleased with his win as he checks off another solid effort in what would likely be his last race before the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.

(photo credits: 100PLUS SG) 

“I am happy that the race went the way it did as I had been largely focused on preparing for the SEA Games. It was an honest effort today, and I enjoyed racing among some of the very best today,” said the New Balance & 100 Plus Ambassador. Coincidentally New Balance and 100 Plus are the official apparel and official hydration partner respectively.

 (photo credits: ONEathlete) 

Mok’s wife, Belinda, and his manager Jed received the prize award on behalf as he had to attend to work demands right after the race. 

Also participating in the 18.45km race are ONEathlete Banjamin Quek and Aileen Tan. Banjamin finished the race behind Mok in 4th position with a timing of 1:09:12. “I had looked forward to this event as a validation race before AHM so I’m definitely aiming for a stronger finish in 3 weeks’ time” said the 22 year old NUS Engineering student. In the Women’s category Aileen also finished 7th with a timing of 1:26:20. 

(photo credits: ONEathlete) 

In the 10km race, ONEathlete Evan Chee crossed the line in 36:56 missing out on the top spot to Kenyan and Nepalese. Evan who will be competing in the Berlin marathon in sept, and has just started work at a new company 4 months ago, recalls “It has been a challenging time balancing work which involved quite a lot of travelling and training so I’m pleased with my efforts today”.

The 5th edition of the Straits Time Run in the City saw 13,000 participants taking part across 3 categories: 18.45km, 10km and 5km. There was a slight drizzle on race morning but it did not dampen the participants roaring spirits. The cool breeze and scenic route was a huge morale booster as runners were treated to dance and music parties along the way. Unlike previous editions this year’s race started on the Esplanade bridge, taking runners past the Singapore Sports Hub and Gardens by the Bay before ending at the iconic Padang. A symbolic nod, perhaps, to its partnership with the Singapore Marathon this coming December.

The Straits Times Run in the City 2017 will be donating $1 received from each registration fee to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. The Fund started in 2000 as a community project initiative by The Straits Times to provide pocket money to children from low-income families to help them through school, and currently supports more than 10,000 children and youth a year. 

Since it’s inception, the Fund has disbursed more than $55m and helped over 150,000 cases of children and youth in providing them with monthly school pocket money to help take bread and butter issues off the table. Through its efforts the Fund has contributed significantly to promoting social causes and community charity.   

(photo credits: ONEathlete) 

RunONE is proud to be the official training partner for The Straits Times Run in the City 2017. We will also like to thank The Straits Time team for the partnership in the weekly RunWithMok columns and runONE training plan. 

SEA GAMES Double-Gold Medallist Mok Ying Ren is 100PLUS’ New Brand Ambassador

Media Release by 100 Plus & ONEathlete
01 July 2017

 

100PLUS is delighted to announce Mok Ying Ren, SEA GAMES double-gold medallist, as its new brand ambassador. The partnership between the two familiar names is rooted in their shared values. Both 100PLUS and Mok Ying Ren advocate the healthy pursuit of running to keep fit and empowering every individual to realise his/her potential.

 

As its Brand Ambassador, Mok will join 100PLUS in its support of Singapore’s efforts to promote healthy living through sports. He will also serve as 100PLUS’ representative at Singapore’s major running events and share his passion and expertise through a series of 100PLUS-sponsored race clinics. Mok will feature in 100PLUS’ branded merchandises and its marketing collaterals.

 

100PLUS has been at the forefront of major sporting events in Singapore, supporting the hydration needs for both professional athletes and everyday fitness seekers. This resonates with me as I believe in an active lifestyle and growing the running community. I hope to do more good through such advocacy. I look forward to working with 100PLUS and have a good run with the brand,” said Mok Ying Ren, who is managed by ONEathlete.

 

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Jennifer See, General Manager, F&N Foods Pte Ltd said,”100PLUS is delighted to welcome SEA GAMES double-gold medallist, Mok Ying Ren, as our Brand Ambassador. As one of Singapore’s most celebrated athletes, Mok’s stellar achievements and his strive for excellence exemplify what 100PLUS stands for. He is a shining example of Singapore’s best in the sporting arena and is an inspiration not only to budding sportsmen and women but also to everyday fitness seekers. Our new brand ambassador will help to amplify our brand’s efforts to support the development of our young athletes and also the many running enthusiasts who make an effort to keep fit through running.”

 

Mok’s appointment as 100PLUS’ Brand Ambassador coincides with the launch of the new non-carbonated 100PLUS ACTIVE. 100PLUS ACTIVE is the latest addition to 100PLUS’s portfolio of isotonic drinks, offering a non-carbonated alternative to cater to the palates and lifestyle needs of consumers.

“My preference is for the non-carbonated 100PLUS ACTIVE when I am training and running. 100PLUS ACTIVE is formulated to help me rehydrate and replenish electrolytes and minerals. I especially like to enjoy my 100PLUS ACTIVE ice-cold for a surge of refreshment during and after my run,” said Mok.

 

100PLUS contributes to sports development and supports consumers who pursue active lifestyles by ensuring that their hydration needs are taken care of. The calendar of major events supported by 100PLUS each year includes sports events for both serious athletes and weekend warriors. The list is extensive and includes many of the marquee sports events on the local calendar including The OSIM Sundown Marathon, The Straits Times Run and The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

 

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For more information and queries, kindly contact Jed@ONEmanagement.sg and andrewkurniawan.ng@imsg.sg

 

Released first by Integrated Marketing Solutions Group Pte Ltd on behalf of F&N Foods Pte Ltd.

The Science Behind Endurance Running

– what it takes to be an F1 car. By Dr Ivan Low

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Have you ever wondered what is the underlying physiology that dictates performance during endurance events? What are the physiological factors that makes a runner into an F1 car and why do they matter in recreational athletes?

 

In distance running, there are three main physiological attributes which contribute to performance, namely (i) maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), (ii) running economy (RE) and (iii) lactate threshold (LT).

 

VO 2 max

A runner’s VO2max is amongst the most widely used parameter to evaluate his/her cardiorespiratory fitness. It measures the maximum rate by which oxygen can be supplied and utilized by the body for energy production during exhaustive exercise. Thus, it provides a good indication on the maximum work capacity that a runner’s muscle can achieve using oxygen for energy production. Essentially, VO2max is analogous to the fuel tank capacity of a car – the larger the tank capacity, the further the distance a car can travel.

 

While a car’s fuel tank capacity may be indicative of the potential distance by which the car can travel, whether the car could fulfil its potential still greatly hinge upon the car’s engine efficiency (fuel consumption rate). Likewise, runners possessing high VO2max can only perform well if they are able to run efficiently, a concept known as Running Economy.

 

Running Economy

An individual’s RE depicts the oxygen cost (or energy demand) for a given running speed and it represents a complex interplay of various physiological (cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular and metabolic) and biomechanical factors. While improvement in RE can be attained via conscious correction of running gait (such as less vertical bounce or unnecessary arm swing amongst many others), it can also be improved gradually via training adaptations. That is to say, the more time spent running on the road, the more efficient one becomes.

 

Lactate Threshold

The third physiological attribute dictating successful distance running performance is the concept of LT. At low running intensity/speed, a runner relies predominantly on aerobic respiration (producing energy using oxygen) for locomotion. As running intensity increases, the body eventually reaches a point where energy demand exceeds the capacity of aerobic respiration and the body starts to rely on less sustainable sources of energy without using oxygen (anaerobic respiration). The point where lactate starts to rise above resting level marks the LT of a runner. Although the science attributing fatigue to lactate accumulation is far from convincing, there is nonetheless a strong relationship between LT and endurance performance.

 

The LT is akin to the horsepower of a car engine. Regardless of the fuel tank capacity, a car requires a high horsepower engine before it can be sustainably driven at high speed without going into overdrive. Similarly, a higher LT allows runners to sustain at a greater running speed without relying on anaerobic energy production. Endurance training can improve LT, but there are currently no consensus on the best training method for the improvement in LT.

 

Why do these matter?

The concepts of VO2max, RE and LT have been the cornerstones for training prescriptions and the monitoring of training progression in elite endurance athletes, and they can be easily applied to the everyday runners too. Unfortunately, accessibility to exercise lab testing is limited in Singapore and they can come with high costs.

 

Marathoner Evan Chee, an everyday runner, who was the fastest Asian in the inaugural Bangkok Midnight Marathon in May 2017, shared his grouses: “I personally have not done a lab test as my coach (Rameshon, National Record Holder for Marathon) and I had found success to gauge my fitness using my performance in time trials and races. Moreover, it can sometimes be costly to do a lab test.”

 

Evan was not alone on this. Banjamin Quek, an NUS undergrad who is managed by ONEathlete, also quipped that treadmill tests feel different than running outdoors. He said, “I sometimes just can’t push myself as hard on the treadmill as compared to running outdoors because of the lack of visual cues of speed. Besides, the tests are not readily available too.”

 

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Photo Credits: ONEathlete

 

However, there is no need to fret. Key indicators such as VO2max can be easily and reliably estimated via GPS-sports watches or even simple running tests. For instance, VO2max can be scientifically predicted using the time taken to run 2.4km or the maximum distance covered in 6 minutes. This will suffice to serve as guidance for the prescription of exercise intensity to achieve optimal training stimulation with minimal risks of injury. To learn how to utilize these data in your daily training, check in next week!

 

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Dr Ivan Low is a Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology, NUS. The exercise physiologist ran the Boston Marathon in 2015. He also extends his expertise to runONE’s Training Programme for ST Run 2017.