BY CHARMAINE NG
FROM THE STRAITS TIMES
Together, married couple Diana Lee and Andrew Cheong have completed all six World Marathon Majors – and are likely the first Singaporean couple to do so.
The pair completed the series of 42km marathons in April when they crossed the finish line at the London Marathon, earning the status of Six Star Finishers.
They join 13 other Singaporeans who have also managed the achievement, according to the World Marathon Majors.
“We both love to travel and run, so for us, what better way than to do both at the same time?” said Lee, 52, general manager for fashion and beauty at SPH Magazines.
She finished the London event in 3hr 56min 13sec, while her husband clocked 3:26:14.
The two of them had earlier completed major marathon races together in Chicago (2013), Tokyo (2014), Berlin (2014), Boston (2016) and New York (2016).
The best part about competing in a major marathon race, said 50-year-old Cheong, is the spectators who would pack the sides of the route to lend their support to the racers.
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“We both love to travel and run, so for us, what better way than to do both at the same time?” – DIANA LEE, general manager for fashion and beauty at SPH Magazines., on completing the Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin, Boston, New York and London marathons with her husband Andrew Cheong.
“The crowd is always fantastic. At the London Marathon, I had ‘Andrew’ in big, bold letters in front, and there were random strangers cheering, ‘Go Andrew, go Andrew!’
“Obviously I know they are just reading off what they saw, but it was still very nice and encouraging,” said the running coach.
The couple first decided to compete in the World Marathon Majors together after Lee supported her husband at the 2012 Boston Marathon – her first experience at a top-six marathon.
“The atmosphere was so fantastic, I felt like I’d rather run than support,” said Lee, who started running marathons in 2009.
But to participate in the Boston Marathon, she would first have to clock a qualifying time of at least four hours – a timing she never thought she would be able to achieve, until her third race in the World Marathon Majors in Berlin where she finished 4:01:19.
With her sights set on the target, and her husband as her personal coach, Lee started focusing on speed exercises, and began mixing her training routine with different distances and pacings.
Their teamwork paid off last year, when Lee clocked 3:59:34 at the New York Marathon.
For all their training efforts together, the chase for the Six Star Finisher status has helped to build their marriage, said the couple, who have been married for 24 years and have two sons.
And now that they have completed all six major marathons, the pair, who both ran in last year’s Straits Times Run in the City and have signed up for this year’s July 16 race, said they have yet to decide on their next sporting goal together.
But for Lee, who thoroughly enjoyed competing in each race, she said she may do it all over again.
“The next time, at least I’ll know the route and can do better,” she said.