Natalie Dau: The Woman Who Ran 1000K From Thailand To Singapore

The 52-year-old averaged two marathons a day to complete Project 1000 in twelve days.


Just a day after completing her epic Project 1000 from Thailand to Singapore, Natalie Dau appeared more relaxed than you’d expect. Perhaps this was due to her getting seven hours of sleep instead of her usual two or finally being in an air-conditioned room after enduring the intense 39-degree Celsius heat and avoiding wild animals.

Despite her swollen legs, which she planned to have checked by a doctor, the 52-year-old seemed at ease, having achieved her goal. 

Her incredible feat earned her the Singapore record for the “Fastest 1,000km Thailand-Singapore Ultramarathon.” Additionally, she is awaiting official certification from Guinness World Records for the “Fastest Crossing of Peninsular Malaysia on Foot.” 

While on her journey, she raised approximately S$50,000 (US$37,000) for GRLS, a charity promoting sports and leadership skills among women and girls.

Preparing For Two Marathons a Day

Dau, an avid ultramarathoner, was seeking a new challenge beyond conventional races. 

Running 1,000km through three countries meant averaging two marathons a day and was unchartered territory for the seasoned veteran. Encouraged by her husband, she saw it as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for GRLS, which she says aligns with her passion for health, fitness, and inspiring young girls.

Despite typically running 100-150km weekly, Dau didn’t increase her daily or weekly mileage in preparation for her 1000km run. Instead, she adjusted to longer days by training in the mornings and evenings and experimented with eating during runs to monitor her body’s reactions.

Natalie Dau: The Woman Who Ran 1000K From Thailand To Singapore 1

1000K With 1000 Challenges

Planning this monumental run proved more challenging than the physical training. Supported by a team of six in two vans, her on-site manager Arthur Tong on a bicycle, and a Thai police escort, Dau began her journey in Hat Yai on May 25.

The journey itself was also littered with difficulties. She faced aggressive dogs, endured a urinary tract infection for seven days, and dealt with painful blisters, requiring her to tape her toes daily.

The first day was one of the toughest, with Dau injuring her hip, a previous injury that made her contemplate quitting. However, with a massage and reassurance from her physiotherapist, she continued.

Dau’s route through Thailand also involved busy highways, quieter country roads, and paths through kampungs. She said traffic was often a concern, with many roads lacking proper shoulders, forcing her to run dangerously close to speeding trucks.

Another major hurdle was the extreme heat, with daily temperatures around 39 degrees Celsius. At one point, her shoes even began to melt. To manage, she started her runs as early as 12:15 a.m. to cover as much distance as possible before the sun rose.

Making It To Singapore

Dau’s typical day began with a peanut butter and jam sandwich at 3 am, followed by a varied breakfast, including Prata and protein shakes. As the day progressed and temperatures soared, she relied more on liquid nourishment to maintain her energy levels.

Throughout her journey, Dau experienced overwhelming kindness from locals. Despite initial safety concerns in southern Thailand, she encountered only hospitality and support. People offered water, fruit, and encouragement along the way.

On June 5, 2024, a triumphant Dau crossed the finish line at Westin Singapore. Reflecting on her journey, she hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams, regardless of scale. 

“It doesn’t have to be 1,000km; it could just be a 1km walk to start,” she said. “Think small. You can have a great big dream in the background, but just think day to day. That’s how I got through the run.

“Everyone’s different. Don’t let other people’s goals impact what you feel like you need to do to be worthy of anything. Everyone has their own goals… You do what brings you joy and what challenges you.”

Photo of author
Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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