The beloved Poly 50 campus run has been a long-running annual tradition in Singapore Polytechnic since 1970. Every year, more people add this experience to their SP journey.
Abdul Jabbar Bin Jalill, a two-time Poly 50 participant, in high spirits just before the 2013 run
Possibly the Longest-running Fan of SP’s Longest-running Tradition
Poly 50 is close to the hearts of many in SP, perhaps none more so than Mr Law Kim Seng, now a part-time lecturer in the School of Mathematics & Science. He has participated in nearly every Poly 50 run since he joined SP in 1972, seeing it develop from those early years at the Prince Edward Campus (PEC) to the grand affair it is today.
Law Kim Seng running Poly 50
“This is a unique campus relay that has become an icon of the school’s culture. Not only does it provide a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere for students and staff members; since SP also invites secondary school students to participate in Poly 50, it is also a great way for them to discover and enjoy the campus grounds and soak up the SP spirit,” says Mr Law. “There are crowds and lots of excitement. Even though your legs and body may be aching after the run, Poly 50 is always a good opportunity to bond with students and colleagues.”
The challenge cup donated by former SP Principal, Mr Robert Edis in 1971
Beginning the Run
According to Mr Fong Foo Wai, who graduated from Mechanical Engineering in 1972, and who was one of the pioneer participants of Poly 50, the run “was the brainchild of a group of sports enthusiasts who hung out in the sports equipment store in Prince Edward. ‘Poly 50’ sounded good, as 50 laps along the driveway, car park and corridor came up to about 25km, which could be done in perhaps an hour or so by a relay team, with each runner sprinting a 120-metre leg.” He adds, “We definitely had no inkling then that what we had conceived and created would become a traditional annual run.”
Still Running Strong
Mr Fong would doubtless be happy to know that the tradition he and his cohort established in 1970 is still going strong up to today.
For example, Abdul Jabbar Bin Jalill, a second year School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering student, has already taken part in two Poly 50s, and fully intends to go for it a third time round this year.
For him, his second Poly 50 run in 2013 remains deeply etched in his mind today. It was the run when fun turned serious, with happy results to follow.
“At first, we were just fooling around,” he shares.
“When I came across friends running for other teams during the race, we chatted and pretended to nudge each other to get the other person off balance. And at times, someone would suddenly pace up and goad us into a chase. I was having a really good time.”
Yet despite all the shenanigans, his team was not performing too badly. He recalls that about 40 rounds in, the timing boards showed that, somehow or other, they had still been clocking in a good time – they were actually amongst the top few teams!
“We realised that we actually had a chance to clinch this and get it in the bag for the student category. From then on we said, ‘okay, we had better buck up and run this race more seriously. We can win this!' ”
The team quickly shifted gear and went at the race full throttle from then on, sprinting their way to a very respectable 8th place in the student category!
“It was tiring, but worth it. We all felt a great sense of accomplishment after that, and this is one SP memory I will always remember very fondly,” says Jabbar, before concluding, “I would love to see the new generations of students continue this tradition. It’s a really good event.”
A jubilant Jabbar (back row, second from left) and his team posing for a picture with Deputy Principal Lim Peng Hun
Great Finds You’ll Enjoy at a Poly 50
Poly 50 is an annual SP event in which staff members, students and alumni form teams to run a relay race of 50 rounds. Each round is a little less than 600 metres, and the route weaves through different parts of the SP campus. Since it first began in 1970, it has been a mainstay of SP’s events calendar, with plenty of good times for one and all. From Jabbar’s experience in previous Poly 50s, here are some of the fun things he says you can expect at a Poly 50.
Yummy Treats - To add to the carnival atmosphere, lots of free food and drinks make the rounds at Poly 50. Cotton candy, energy drinks and doughnuts are all there for the taking!
Outrageous Outfits - Teams at Poly 50 always tend to take things a step further when it comes to their gear. Over the years, participants have dressed up in zany outfits to stand out, painted their faces and more.
Ample Prizes - More than a fun run, Poly 50 often has very attractive prizes up for grabs. If you go the distance with your team and win, you can expect to walk off with plenty of vouchers and other goodies.
Close Camaraderie - You’ll run into – and make – quite a few friends from other schools, batches, and CCAs at Poly 50. Whether as a spectator or runner, it’s a great opportunity to hang out and let loose.
School Spirit - Staff members, alumni, students are all out in force to go all out at each Poly 50. It’s a fantastic celebration of SP’s close bonds and unity, and a great experience everyone in the SP community enjoys.
10 Bonus Rounds! - In celebration of SP’s 60th anniversary, ten more laps have been added to the 2014 run to make it Poly 60. That means lots more fun for all to enjoy!