Members from the Mandarin congregation in City Harvest Church foster closer ties with one another during a walkathon.
Contributed by Jesscy Chua
It was a fine Saturday morning on Feb. 19 when 320 people, comprising City Harvest Chinese Church members and their families, turned up at East Coast Park for their Family Walkathon. The event began at 7:45 a.m. with a gathering of the attendees for a warm-up exercise.
The Family Walkathon was the first such event held by CHCC and is the brainchild of Tan Ye Peng, deputy senior pastor of City Harvest Church who oversees CHCC. It was executed by CHCC’s administrative officer, Natalie Teo, along with 30 volunteers.
When asked about the purpose of the walkathon, Teo said, “The walkathon was to foster fellowship among members and get everyone to exercise together for a healthy lifestyle. It was a chance for us to bring our families and friends for a day of family fun, and for families to get to know our church friends.”
After the warm-up exercise, about 50 people commenced their 5km run while the rest followed behind with a 2km walkathon. In the walkathon, there were several couples with their toddlers and baby strollers, while clusters of the seniors and the youth could be seen walking and chatting away simultaneously. Exchanges of smiles, greetings and encouragement could be seen and heard across the pedestrian path, especially when the runners passed by those who walked leisurely.
“I am very happy to be here and I really enjoyed the run with all my friends. I think I broke my own record today,” says Zhao Yi, 27, a Nanyang Technological University student who came in first in the 5km run with a clocked-in time of 22 minutes. The first for the women’s category went to Mary Tan, a teacher, who completed the leg within 25 minutes. Both accorded their accomplishments to a cultivated running routine.
However, the real inspiration had to be couple, Ang Kai Beng and Lim Ai Hiong, both retirees in their 60s and Bai Ya Bi, 70, a school canteen stallholder. The couple completed their run, at the same time, within 33 minutes, while Bai was the oldest among the group of runners for the 5km route.
“We usually run in the evening. But it is different today because we are breathing fresh air, running with our friends and spurring each other to complete the run. We felt more motivated too,” shared the couple enthusiastically.
“I just ran and walked and then ran again. It felt good to exercise with the rest,” said Bai with a contented smile on his face.
Apart from coordinating the running and walking activities, the organizers had prepared two ambulances on standby, as well as one doctor and six nurses to attend to anyone who needed medical attention. However, none was required throughout the event.
Participants were given goodies such as water, caps, wristbands, drawstring gym bags and health magazines with photo-taking and beauty discount vouchers. These were sponsored by individuals and companies who believe that health, family and friends are essential components of life.
The next segment of the event saw six groups of 15 individuals forming lines across the sandy beach to play a competitive team game—each group was to divide and designate their own team players to conquer various hurdles to reach the ultimate obstacle, which was to build a sandcastle strong enough to withstand “bombing” from water-bags thrown by their opponents. The hurdles were in the form of durians, mandarin oranges, watermelon and pumpkin seeds, marbles, and kite-flying. The excitement grew when all these hurdles had to be conquered at the same time, which showcased the team spirit, coordination and unity of each group, which peaked when the “bombing” began.
At the blow of the whistle, the winner was announced, but in a turn of events, Joseph Ang, one of the Chinese Church pastors decided to award the winning title to another group as the original winners had broken some of the rules. In spite of that, everyone was enjoying themselves so much so that all were applauding and cheering away.
The Chinese Church Family Walkathon ended at 10:45 a.m. The winners were seen licking away at their mystery prize—ice-cream. Others sat on mats for their picnic snacks. All took home fond memories and a closer bonding between families and friends.
“I really enjoyed planning the event and had much fun on the day itself. I would do it again and I hope more people will make it next time,” says Joann Tan, 38, one of the volunteers.
Teo also informed City News that the Chinese Church members can expect the Family Walkathon to be held annually.