Counting her blessings through Running: Vanessa Chong

Doctor-Runner uncovers her hidden talent for running, and continues to draw strength from her patients

PHOTO: EUGENE TAN


She treats patients with Leukemia and Lymphoma. As a doctor specialising in Haematology-Oncology, Vanessa Chong's daily interactions with her patients serve as a constant reminder for her to count her blessings more often.


Even though her initial training years were tough, she has come to fall in love with her job as she often finds herself drawing on the strength of her patients, to mirror the same kindness they exhibit even while battling cancer.


So what was it that drew Chong into the sport of running, and why does she run so often? It turns out she stumbled upon it by accident, but has come to be pretty good at it!

PHOTO: PICTUREART GALLERY


Love of Sea and Sunsets


She said: "I love the sea and sunsets. I was taking photos by the Punggol settlement one day when a group of runners zoomed past me."


"I asked one of the runners if there was a race and he said they were SAFRA Running Club Punggol (SRCPG) runners, and asked me to join them," she recalls.


"SRCPG gave me a running family. They embraced me with their warmth, taught me what watch to buy and even how to warm up."


It has been three years since she started running, and barring the six months where she had to stop running from August 2019 to February 2020 due to an injury, she has been consistently hitting the roads ever since.


PHOTO: BEN KOH

Podium Finish Debut at SCSM 2018


Spurred on by the encouragement of fellow runners from her group runs, Chong found myself on the podium nine (9) times in her first year of running in 2018, including a third placed finish in her maiden Standard Chartered Singapore Half Marathon in 2018.


She had never joined any running races prior to 2018 and was never a sports person in school, so it was a very exciting time for Chong and her family.


Chong's parents have been a pillar of support for her in her new found hobby and love, and would never miss any one of her races, always heading down to support her at each event.


PHOTO: VANESSA CHONG FACEBOOK


Outside of running races, running has also been a time where Chong is able to shut her mind off from the daily noise.


In fact, you'd probably catch the regular sight of this young woman with music in her ears, wind on her face, and her legs propelling her body forward, taking in the surrounding nature in all of its beauty if you stay in the northern region of Singapore.


Running as Therapy


Given the stressful nature of her work, Chong has come to appreciate the therapeutic effects that running brings.


"It's a stress relief, an escape and at times a spiritual experience that draws me closer to God," she shares. "It is an immense blessing to be able to run and be free."

PHOTO: KWEE SWAT OON


She has been slowly building up the mileage again ever since her injury, increasing what was 10km - 20km per week at first to now running about 5-6 times a week, with one harder session and a weekend long run.


Stories of runners coming back from injuries continue to motivate and inspire Chong on her own journey back towards full fitness.


PHOTO: VANESSA CHONG FACEBOOK


Solo Runs


And while she enjoys the social nature of groups runs, she usually runs alone because she knocks off work pretty late.


A self admitted sucker for pretty sunsets, Chong's favourite running route is Punggol.


"I must say it’s pretty but not the prettiest. But it’s so familiar to me, it feels like home," she reasoned.


PHOTO: VANESSA CHONG FACEBOOK


"It’s also by the seaside with amazing sunsets which I love. I know every pot hole and slope or uneven grounds, where the water stops and even wild boars are."


Chong hopes to run for as long as she can, and to remain healthy in order to keep doing what she loves, God willing.


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