Some people chase after buses when late.
Natalie Soh chases buses to see if she can outrun them.
The 16-year-old long-distance runner from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary) first timed herself when she ran from her Seletar estate to the bus stop, which she recalls was about 10 minutes.
She then became more daring.
Sometimes after school, instead of taking the bus to the nearest MRT station at Nex Serangoon, she would leave her school bag with friends and then jog the near-3km stretch to the train stop, and collect her bag there.
Said Natalie: “Sometimes the bus would be too slow... and I’d actually beat it, but that would depend on how much traffic there was on the road.
“My friends joined me once and then vowed never again.”
Of course, Natalie doesn’t just chase buses for fun.
It was all part of her effort to improve, ahead of the National Inter-School Cross Country Championships.
And it paid off when she clinched the Girls’ B Division title at Bedok Reservoir Park in March, finishing the 3.6km route in 14min 28.7sec.
“When I crossed the line, I was so confused because I was so tired. I didn’t even know where I finished because it was so close. All I could think of was how good it felt that the race was finally over.”
The win was all the more sweeter because Natalie didn’t have much success previously.
In 2012, she competed in the C Division race and finished in 30th spot, in 17:00.25. Last year, she finished
the 3.6km route in 40th position, clocking a pedestrian 16:24.54 in her first season in the B Division.
Undaunted, she ran the 800m in the Singapore Athletic Association’s Under-15s Series 7 last December
and came first. That win was the boost she needed to go the extra mile.
She said: “After that win, I thought to myself, ‘hey, I can actually do this’. I started believing in myself
more and trained harder.”
She started to join her brother, Thaddeus, 21, and the pair would run the 5km around their estate every weekend.
Thaddeus, who had just completed national service, would also bring her to Bedok Reservoir for 20km runs.
He said: “I remember the first time, when we reached 15km, I told her we could stop because it was already quite a good distance, but she told me she wanted to go all the way.
“I was really impressed with how she pushed herself because, before that, the most we’ve run together was about 10km.
“I was an officer in the Guards battalion and I even think she’s fitter than some of my men.”
Thaddeus was one of the first to congratulate his sister when she won the B Division title this year.
He said: “When she told me she won, my exact words to her were, ‘You owe me because the other runners didn’t have any fit brothers to train with’.”
Natalie plans to continue training, even with the O Levels looming this year.
When asked if she would still try to beat the bus from school, she smiled and said, “maybe”.