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Going the distance in celebration of the Games

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extraordinary run The Extraordinary Run started from the first Torch-Up! Art Installation "Reaching High", located in front of ION Orchard. photo: SINGSOC

Three months after the launch of the first installation, “Reaching High”, the 28th SEA Games Torch Up! project culminated in the Extraordinary Run on 4th June. Participants ran past 28 of the 30 art installations, before being joined by community partners at the ArtScience Museum for the last leg and the finish line at the Promontory @ Marina Bay. The run was a symbolic journey, signifying an inclusive local community, in hopes of passing on strength and support to the athletes participating in the SEA Games.

Fittingly, the run kicked off at ION Orchard, where “Reaching High” was unveiled. The dynamic and interactive artwork was created in collaboration with artist Sun Yu-li and students from the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technology University. In line with the Games’ theme, Celebrate the Extraordinary, the installation represented the passion that burns within every individual, driving them to aspire to greater heights. Looking forward to the 15km route snaking through Orchard, Bras Basah, the Singapore Sports Hub and Marina Bay, the runners were in a similarly buoyant mood at the start point.

Participants in the Extraordinary Run were a mix of community partners and volunteers from varied backgrounds. Runner Samantha Chin of Comcrop was directly involved in the maintenance of the “Reaching High” structure, while volunteer Kyle Hor found out about the Extraordinary Run via Facebook, and took personal leave from his work as an IT Manager to take part in the event. At 55, he was the oldest runner but proved steely as he arrived together with the rest of the team at the Promontory.

Co-founder of The Living! Project and one of the organisers of the Torch Up! series, Kenny Eng also participated as a runner. “This run is meaningful to us because it completes the whole Torch Up [project],” he enthused.

“The artwork will ignite the flame from the Singapore community, with the artists to celebrate the SEA Games, and at the same time, start the torch relay.”

The runners’ exuberant cheers throughout the route attracted locals and tourists alike as they made their way past the installations. Waiting for them at their own works were the artists, who were present to hand the runners an art flame made by Tan Sock Fong.

extraordinary run Participants in the Extraordinary Run were a mix of community partners and volunteers from varied backgrounds. photo: SINGSOC

Husband and wife Gregory and Angie Burns were at their masterpiece, “Bells of Inspiration”, two hours in advance to wait for the runners. Their unique piece, fashioned from scrap metal created by students from the Institute of Technical Education represents all 11 participating nations of the SEA Games, and was painted with the help of students from School of the Arts Singapore.

The community partners joined the runners at artist Andrew Loh’s unique artwork titled “See. Feel. Dream Again”, the only mobile art installation of the project. He affixed an interlocking pattern of multi-coloured, reflective plastic to the hoods of trishaws, evoking the colourful foliage of Singapore as garden city and encouraging locals to see their city through different lenses. Supporters and community partners from primary schools and community centres lined the route to the Promontory, cheering the runners onward to their destination where the accumulated art flames were placed onto the final artwork.

The concluding piece, “薪火相傳: Kindling Aspirations” was the brainchild of artist Tan. The work used traditional stained glass to symbolise a community flame burning with passion, in the theme of passing skill and knowledge to the next generation.

“The run puts it in practice: people of all walks of life come together,” Sock Fong mused. “Every torch represents a sculpture and represents the community work that adds to a bigger flame that will continue burning. It’s also what the SEA Games is about: with passion, endurance and perseverance, we can be successful.”

Bringing in community engagement to celebrate sports may be unorthodox but it was ultimately a highly successful endeavour.

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