Monday, November 8, 2010

高鸿发 Kor Hong Fatt - Our Oldest Marathoner

Kor Hong Fatt
Old boy Kor Hong Fatt, 78 (高鸿发, Junior Middle III, 1951) is one of Singapore’s oldest marathoners. But he does not take his status lightly.

The retired technical supervisor suffered a heart attack at the age of 70. Two years later, he ran his first 42km race. His brush with death was a shock for the man who had never thought much about exercise before. “When I was young, I would run only when I was free,” he said in Mandarin.

The attack prompted him to re-evaluate his health. “I wanted to take care of myself to prevent a second heart attack. I have to take care of my wife,” he said. His wife, Madam Wang Siew Eng, who is also 78, suffered a stroke on the right side of her body 16 years ago and needs help in daily activities like bathing. The couple have two adult sons.

He took 18 months to train for his first marathon and did this without telling his doctor. “My family was also against it but I told them that I would be careful and stop if I felt uncomfortable,” he said.

He used a heart rate monitor to make sure he stayed within 50 to 85 per cent of his maximum heart rate (MHR) and took breaks when he felt any chest discomfort. He attended running forums and read many books about running to learn how best to pace himself as he trained. The MHR is the greatest number of beats per minute that is safe for the heart. A commonly used MHR formula is 220 - (your age). One should not exceed 85 per cent of the MHR when exercising.

He paced his training regimen well, starting with slow walks on the treadmill, then progressed to brisk walks, slow jogs and finally, a full marathon.

Kor Hong Fatt has run in 11 marathons and will be taking part in the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon on 5 Dec 2010.

But if his heart is up to it, his knees tell a different story. Four years ago, he experienced excrutiating pain in both knees while running. He had run in four marathons that year. A sports physician advised him to run less and go for physiotherapy. As a result, he cut his participation to just one marathon a year.

Every four months, he has a follow-up consultation with doctors at a polyclinic because of his previous heart attack. He is on lifelong medication and has a yearly heart scan.

For a man who seldom exercised before, running has become something he cannot do without. “One is never too old to start exercising,” he said. “I will continue running even beyond the age of 80 as long as I am able to.”

Note: Kor Hong Fatt will be taking part in the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon on 5 Dec 2010. 

His entry to the 115th Boston Marathon to be held on 18 April 2011 has been accepted.

Many runners dream of making a 'pilgrimage' to Boston to run the world's oldest marathon - if they can meet the tough qualification time. Boston Marathon is one of the toughest marathons in the world, its is a hilly terrain to run in, with the notorious 'Heartbreak' Hill being one of them.

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