Chasing the first and last lights of day: Sarah Tan

Physiotherapy student went from running to lose weight in school, to clocking her fastest 14KM timing in Sydney


She does not come from a family with a sporting background.

Growing up she was constantly teased for her size, until she was pretty much done with being made fun of for being "big".

And so began Sarah Tan's running journey at the age of fourteen. While she started running from her secondary two days, initially it was simply with the goal of losing the extra pounds.

What she did not expect however, was that she would meet friends from the running community along the way who really enjoyed running, and this shifted her goals from weight loss to something greater.


These days she runs to catch the first and last lights of day, and also uses it as a means to catch up with friends in a healthy way - with an adrenaline rush and getting in some cardio at the same time.

As a physiotherapy student, Tan clocks good running mileage on a given week with one track session (2 if training for an upcoming race), another one to two mid distance runs (5-8km) and one long run above 10KM.

She finds company from her track sessions with Ghana Segaran and the Voltrunners, but also enjoys her own bit of "me" time whenever she heads out for some of her solo runs over the past 18 months since Covid-19 began.

She shared: "I started off with solo runs, then transited to group runs with Voltrunners and Running Department (was training as a pacer)."

"Running in a group made me uncomfortable with solo runs but since COVID started, I've gotten used to doing my solo runs because of the freedom that I get with routes and timings."


When asked which runners inspire her, Tan picked out her favourite cyclists instead.

"Strangely, I have more favourite cyclists than runners perhaps because of how they market themselves. My favourite female cyclist, Tiffany Cromwell, runs during her off-seasons and did what she termed as a very decent marathon timing of 3:21," she added.

"Fast for a Singaporean runner, who says cyclists can't run!"


A second person she draws inspiration from recently is sprinter Dafne Schippers.

"She is pretty off-the-charts in terms of height and size of a runner/sprinter, and because she demonstrates great strength and power in spite of her height giving her a disadvantage during her starts," she opined.

"We often see fast runners as compact and lean, which I am not (being 1.7m and 66kg), and having someone out of the norm is really inspirational for me."

While she likes doing both short sprints on the track and longer scenic runs, her favourite route in Singapore is the Stadium - Gardens by the Bay - Marina Bay Sands - Fullerton and back to Stadium, a route she says she will never tire of.


Having not been able to travel for over a year now, it is small wonder that Tan misses her favourite running experience, the City2Surf runs in Sydney, which she has been to four times while she was still working in the aviation industry.

"The whole experience is so much different, both in terms of weather and terrain, than Singapore. Imagine running with 80,000 people and the whole city comes to a standstill for this event," she remarked.

It was also there that Tan did her fastest ever 14KM, and she looks forward to heading back to race with the same group she did in the past once the COVID situation stabilises.

Her time away from running to focus on cycling saw her returning to a vibrant running community with a lot of female runners who clock impressive and very competitive timings, which she thinks is a good thing.


Her running bucket list includes an overseas trail race and marathon, something she has never done before, and she also has some tips for beginners who are just starting on their running journey.

"As a physio-in-training, I would say start gradual and don't ignore your niggles," she shared.

"Back off a little (not stop entirely) to let your body get used to the training load before increasing your mileage or you can do some form of cross-training (swim/cycle/strength work) if you need your adrenaline-boost."

"Remember that you want to keep running for a long time pain-free!"

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