SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

November 2023

Running the Extra Mile: Two Mums, One Passion

In the latest instalment of our #MothersOfSingapore series, we track the stories of two Singaporean women, their individual parenting journeys, and a shared love for running. Firstly, we take off with marathoner Jasmine Goh (right). Now 44, the elite athlete has represented Singapore twice at the SEA Games, and is a single mum to two teenage girls. Then there’s 39-year-old bank executive Elise Poh (left, with daughter Joy), who goes out of her way to stay active and play sports so that she can keep up with her three young children. Both ladies also took part in the Great Eastern Women’s Run (GEWR) last month.


MARATHON MUM JASMINE GOH: “I always wanted a big family of my own.”

“I grew up surrounded by family — I’m the eldest of four. And we have a large extended family — my mother has eight siblings! As there is a significant age gap between me and my younger siblings and cousins, I was often responsible for their wellbeing and upbringing. We’re still extremely closely knit, meeting up every week. Thus, family gatherings are always a lively and noisy affair.

My parents were not perfect but they definitely tried their best to provide a stable upbringing. As both were working, it was mainly my late paternal grandmother who took care of me. I also spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother and my parents’ siblings. In particular, my aunt Daphne, who is like a second mother to me.

I believe these experiences shaped my parenting style — I’m fairly easy-going and open to letting a ‘tribe’ raise my kids. After my divorce, everyone around me stepped up to support me in caring for and parenting my girls. My ex-in-laws, parents, and siblings were a huge part of my support team. Their presence allowed me to balance work, family, and my athletic pursuits. There is no shortage of love and support in this arrangement.


Like Chalk and Cheese

Cherish, now 16, was the first grandchild for both sides of the family. We named her Cherish because here in the Asian culture, there is still a strong preference for male heirs. So, we wanted her and the world to know that she is precious and cherished for who she is.

My pregnancy was pretty easy and I enjoyed that stage very much. And Cherish turned out to be the sweetest baby that everyone loved to care for. Fuss-free and almost never cried — she just needed her Barney shows! The perfect child who would inspire any parents to have more kids.

Faith, on the other hand, was born with a voice that could shatter glass, and a will that could bend steel. Her cries could be heard throughout the neighbourhood, and no one could soothe her except for me. She scared away many babysitters who couldn’t handle her energy and demands. She was a handful, but she was also my pride and joy.

Now 14 years old, Faith never hesitates to express her thoughts, no matter how unpopular or controversial. She challenges anyone who dares to cross her, and never backs down from a fight. Opinionated and fiesty, she makes sure everyone knows it. Truly, a girl who knows what she wants, and how to get it.

Both of them are my daughters. They are as different as night and day. And I love them more than anything!

We are close and have a great relationship. Parenting teenagers can be both rewarding and challenging, as they go through a period of significant physical and emotional development. Luckily, we have good communication, so we are able to navigate any difficult moments through honest and open conversations.


“Running makes an ordinary woman like me do extraordinary things.”

During #GEWR2023, I ran in the Elite 21.1 km category. It is a privilege to be in a race that is dedicated to just women. That’s why I’ve been taking part in GEWR every year since 2012. The organisers are also really thoughtful about female needs and provide post-race activities and amenities that make us feel good.

Jasmine Goh running at GEWR2023

There was a quote in the recent Barbie movie: “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.” I strongly disagree — standing still serves no one! After my divorce in 2011, I decided to go further, run faster, and be better than I have ever been, so that my daughters could witness my progress and be inspired to do even more!

And so, I embarked on my running career. Since then, my greatest achievements include representing Singapore twice at the SEA Games and becoming the last woman standing at the Backyard Ultra Singapore 2020. But I couldn’t have done it without my family. In fact, it began with a promise I made to them.

Singapore was hosting the 28th SEA Games in 2015 and Soh Rui Yong had just won the marathon on home ground. During the closing ceremony, I was at the National Stadium as a spectator with my children. As the National Anthem played, I turned to them and promised to represent Singapore at the next SEA Games. And I did.

The marathon is more than just a race. It’s a symbol of the commitment and unbreakable bond between me and my children. It’s also a way for me to be a role model for my girls — by exemplifying women empowerment, self-transformation, and the never-quit attitude.”


HEADSTRONG MUM ELISE POH: “I didn’t really like kids in the past.”

Elise and Joy after running to train for GEWR2023 2km Mummy + Me

“It’s quite funny, thinking back. I’m the middle child in a family of three girls, so I’m pretty strong-willed and stubborn — pretty sure my mum and husband will vouch for that! And I always found kids noisy and irritating so I never wanted to be a mother. But some years after getting married, I told myself to try having a baby to add to the family nucleus.

We tried to conceive without result for almost two years. It was so stressful and mentally draining because for the first time, I wasn’t in control of attaining something I wanted! Until then, throughout my life, as long as I worked hard, I would be able to achieve my goals. But this was something I was unable to fathom, so we sought medical help.

We tried IVF in the first instance possible, as I did not want to wait any longer. I was lucky to conceive twins right away. The maternal instinct kicked in naturally with time. So much love began pouring out of me — including being brave and wanting to provide a happy and healthy environment for them to grow up in.


I’ve also become more appreciative of all mothers. It was tough in the beginning to handle twins as a first-time mum, but I had support from my mother and family members who are always willing to lend a hand.

Turbulent Times

Elise and kids running

Still, my twins didn’t come easy. I suffered severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a side effect of the injections to stimulate egg production. My swollen ovaries leaked fluid into my stomach — I looked five months pregnant! I spent two weeks in the hospital, originally to drain the fluid but then developed an infection. It was so traumatic and I still have the scar to show for it.

Then at about 35 weeks, Joy and Jude were born prematurely at below 2 kg each. They needed special care right away, so I didn’t get to see my babies after birth until the second day. Enduring the pain from the C-section, I got out of bed and took a wheelchair down to see and care for them.

My second pregnancy wasn’t any easier. At 16 weeks, preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) — where my water bag leaked — left me in anguish. My choices were to either terminate the pregnancy or stay in the hospital till I gave birth. And the worst-case scenario was that my baby might be deformed.


Thankfully, I consulted a second opinion, and this doctor signed off on my discharge after five days. He confined me to bed rest at home for a month, but at least I kept my sanity. It was such a relief when my water bag held firm and slowly increased in amniotic fluids. I eventually gave birth to a healthy baby.

However, at three months, my little Jake was diagnosed with acute hemihypertrophy. It is a condition in which one side of the body is larger than the other and he is at high risk of developing tumours and childhood cancers. To detect the early onset of any such instance, he undergoes quarterly blood tests and ultrasound scans.

“My greatest joy is seeing them happy and as outdoor-loving as I am.”

Elise and Joy running at GEWR2023 2km Mummy + Me

Despite all the complications, I am thankful that my children are all growing up well. My twins, Joy and Jude, are now outgoing seven-year-olds, while Jake is four and just as active. To maintain the energy and stamina to keep up with my young children, I hit the gym whenever possible and have evening netball sessions at least once a week.

Sports and keeping active have always been an integral part of my lifestyle. I played netball competitively in secondary school. Later, I dabbled in various sports, such as mountain hiking, golf, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddling. I also have a PADI open water diving licence.

It was upon meeting my husband, who’s an avid runner, that I picked up running too. That ignited my passion for joining mass run events. I love the atmosphere and find inspiration in running with others, all pushing our limits together. Ironically, my husband prefers his own running space, so I usually join these runs alone.

Until the recent #GEWR2023, where Joy and I teamed up for the 2km Mummy + Me category. It was her debut run, so we prepared by walking/running about 2.5km to my in-law’s place for over a month. We enjoyed our exclusive bonding time without the boys, and the run itself was epic. Post-run activities for the kids were wonderful too — we stayed for almost two hours after!

It’s so fun running with everyone and I love playing in the bouncy castle and other activities.

– Joy Ng, 7 years old

I also expose the kids to different sports, from volleyball and martial arts to rollerblading and dance. It’s important they have an active childhood, so they can discover their own passions when they get older.”


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Running the Extra Mile: Two Mums, One Passion