Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Malaysia Marathon 2019 Race Review

After three weeks of grey clouds hovering the skies in Klang Valley, on the 29th Sept, Kuala Lumpur greeted the runners at the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon with a clear blue sky. It was a great day to run. Although it was drizzling when the full marathon flagged-off at 3:45am, but it quickly subsided about 20 minutes after.

Blue Sky at Dataran Merdeka. Picture by cheery running friend, Farhani

I joined the Half Marathon together with my husband and like previous years, we took the LRT from Bandar Tasek Selatan to Masjid Jamek to get to Dataran Merdeka. The event organiser – Dirigo, without fail, sponsored the LRT rides in Klang Valley for a certain period of time to facilitate runners’ logistic arrangement.

The start and finish area for all categories are not the same. The 5km and 10 km run were held at Sogo area, while the half and full marathon at Dataran Merdeka.

The arrangement to enter runners’ designated pens were well-organised and strict. Pens were used to segregate runners based on targeted timing – fastest being in the one in front and slowest at the back. The Minister of Youth and Sports of Malaysia, YB Syed Saddiq flagged-off and joined the run. The KL Standard Chartered Run was well organised and I saw a lot of efforts to make the event world-standard. Before the run started, the emcee gave a few safety and running etiquette reminders. For example, he reminded the runners on how to overtake each other by telling the person in front of you that you are over-taking on the right. By virtue of that, if you plan to slow down in the crowd, keep left so that those who wish to go faster than you can do that on the right. He also reminded the runners to run within designated zones to stay safe and smile 😊 for the cameras 📸.

Half Marathon Flag Off 5:30am

Here are our collective reviews from half and full marathon runners about some aspects of the run :

  • Baggage Drop
    👍 – Well-managed
  • Toilets
    👍 – Ample with not many queues. We only saw short queues at early kilometers and after that, hardly any. This was good as runners can achieve better timing.
  • Medical & Paramedics
    👍 Many ambulances were seen patrolling the race routes at the early, middle and later part of the routes. This was really encouraging because I usually see them only at later part of the race.
  • Water Station, Sponges and Muscle Spray
    👍 – Well-organised and well-coordinated by friendly volunteers who understood runners needs.
  • Medal and Finisher Collection Area
    👌 – Fast and well-managed. However, the area where you can enter to collect  the water, 100 plus and medal was lax, loosely-controlled. Anyone can enter the area. Last year, I found the finisher area managed very strictly.  The organiser could consider giving finisher slip or provide medal immediately at the finish line.
  • Road & route management
    👍 Overall, it was good. Most roads were well lighted up except a few areas – dark (at Kampung Baru), wet and needed light before the sun rise. Inevitably, due to the rain earlier, a few corners of the roads were filled with water and runners had to slow down and be extra careful to keep shoes dry. It would be nice if runners get to run more in the city than on the DUKE highway. Or,  get some volunteers to cheer along the long highway. It would also be nice if we run the opposite way of the route, so that runners do not have to go through hills last leg.
  • Surau
    👍  
    Praying areas were well-planned with signage. One water station was used by male runners to pray. I just prayed by the road using raazglove to ‘sujud’ on. I saw a couple of runners praying by the road and the place looked safe and convenient. So, I just followed them.
  • Traffic Control
    👍 Thumbs up for the traffic marshals and volunteers along the race route. They kept the runners on track, friendly and were very strict about the runners path. They were also strict about how you wear the bib – which is in the front!
  • International Participants
    👍 I see more international participation at the KLSCM this year. Running groups and runners from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan were quite visible at the run. Many Indonesian and China supporters were seen cheering at the finish line.
  • Medal & T-shirts
    👍 Medal – Sleek design of medal with difference sizes for different categories. I cannot help but wonder why the Twin Towers on the medal are not the same height? Could it because the perspective or angle of the towers?

    KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2019 Medal Run for a Reason

    The running shirts for the event were by Under Armour and the design was the same as previous years – simple and neat. I love all the colors !
    Running shirt : Electric blue with 2 design options : short sleeves or running vest.
    Extra Shirt for Run for a Reason – Olive color short sleeve shirt
    Full marathon finishers get dark blue finisher short sleeve shirts

    About two weeks before the event, the organiser announced the change of event name to the Kuala Lumpur Standard Charted Marathon (KLSCM) from Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM). It was a last minute change. Therefore, there was no surprise that the merchandises retained the old name : SCKLM.

  • Event Village
    👍 What’s new about the event village was the steel-looking over-head walk-way that goes across the start and finish line. Although it couldn’t accommodate many users, it was useful to facilitate runners and supporters to cross the road. There were many activities to do other than cheering for finishing runners. You could catch up with fellow runners, take pictures, rest and recover or get a massage after the race. I wanted to get leg and back massage after the run, but the set-up was too open. It would be great if the event organiser allocate an area for women who wish not to be visible in the open area. The event emcee kept the mood going with upbeat music running on the background the whole time I was at the village.Another nice thing to have at the village is food and more food. Just get the food trucks there and runners would be so happy to fill up their huge appetite after the run while waiting for fellow friends.

    On the Runners approaching the finish line as I walked over.

  • KLSCM 2019 App
    👌 On the day of the race, many used the app to follow and track their friends.  I too downloaded and used the app to track others who were running. Unfortunately, the updates for live tracking was slow and at times, the info of the runner I followed disappear. The app gave pop-up updates about the runners you follow until they finish. The updates at one point was an hour delay – I received the update about my friend finishing the run, an hour after she finished. Response time certainly needs improvement.
  • Running Participation
    👍  Based on the unofficial info on KLSCM App, less than 10,000 runners of 13,000 registered full marathon runners, while less than 9,500 runners out of 12,500 registered half marathon runners joined the feat. This was about 73%-76% participation rate.

Congrats to Runners
At KLSCM, you see serious and competitive runners. They push you forward. Whether or not you meet your timing goals, what matter is that you finish strong and ethically.  These are Nashata Runners Full Marathon finishers  that I am so proud of : Farhati, Intan Suraya, Intan Siza, Laili Mardziah, Nur Azyan, Siti Nor Aliza, Syariza and Zamzamiah.

Farhati Happy with her 1st Full Marathon.

Intan Suraya, Marshita, Fiza – Full Marathon Finishers

Nor Laili after finishing her 1st Full Marathon

Syariza & Intan Siza after full marathon. Intan Siza pacing Syariza 1st FM as a birthday gift #sisterhood

Full marathon finishers : Syariza, Zamzamiah & friend

Run for a Reason
I was happy to have a rewarding experience raising funds and awareness for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia together with my husband. We collectively raised RM6,720. Although small, we hope our effort contributes to a greater cause. We hope to continue to do this next year.

Half Marathon Finishers – Soy Mokhtar & I

Special Thanks to Volunteers and Cheerers
Friendly and supportive volunteers and cheerers helped runners keep running mood positive and they pushed us going.

Dirigo keeps improving its standards and I appreciate the efforts.  Keep it up!

Review is based on experience by Intan Suraya and I.

SCKLM is Now KLSCM

The 11th Biggest Marathon in Kuala Lumpur is now called Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) and it brings together top world and local competitive marathon runners.

It will take place at iconic Dataran Merdeka  on 28 and 29 September, bringing together 40,000 runners compete in a variety of distances, with the previous year’s title holders all returning to stake their claim once again.

“The Race weekend will see thrilling contests between the defending champions in various categories and the upstarts who will be pushing the incumbents all the way,” said KLSCM Project Director Rainer Biemans, who is also a Director of Dirigo Events, the owner and organiser of KLSCM. “As an added highlight, making his debut in KLSCM will be YB Syed  Saddiq, Minister of Youth and Sports, who will make it the first time a full-fledged Minister has taken part in the Half Marathon category,” added Biemans.

The undisputed “king” in the local marathon scene, Muhaizar Mohamad, will be back to defend his title in the Malaysian Men’s Full Marathon category for an astonishing fifth consecutive time. Muhaizar, who won Malaysia’s first S.E.A. Games medal in the event in the last 44 years in the 2017 KL edition, is also representing Malaysia again in the event at this year’s Games in Manila, Philippines. He is currently the second fastest Malaysian marathoner after national record holder Leo Tan Huong Leong. Leo, who came in third at last year’s KLSCM, will unfortunately not be participating this year due to other commitments.

Muhaizar Mohamad and Nik Fakaruddin

Muhaizar Mohamad and Nik Fakaruddin

Due to his participation in the Manila S.E.A. Games in November this year however, Muhaizar is not expected to push himself to glory at KLSCM2019 as both events are just two months apart and his priority is representing Malaysia at the Games.

“KLSCM2019 will be my last marathon outing in my preparations for the S.E.A. Games and I do not want to jeopardise my training for that. I still aim to be competitive and hope to defend my KLSCM title as it is an event that is close to my heart after winning it four times in a row. Dirigo Events, the owner and organiser of KLSCM has also been one of my strongest supporters and I want to repay their faith in me by participating again this year,” said Muhaizar.

The main obstacle in the defence of Muhaizar’s title will come in the form of someone well known to him. Nik Fakaruddin, who came in second last year, is a vastly improved runner and is in fact Muhaizar’s compatriot in the Armed Forces and one of his regular training partners. Nik’s advantage this time around would be knowing that there’s nothing preventing him from going all out to bag his first title especially since Muhaizar would be more concerned with the upcoming S.E.A. Games.

In the Full Marathon Open category, two-time consecutive champions Cosmas Matolo Muteti and Elizabeth Chepkanan Rumokol from Kenya will return to defend their Men’s and Women’s tiles respectively. Their aim to win their third consecutive titles in Kuala Lumpur will be put to the test by elite Ethiopian athletes who will be making their debuts at KLSCM. Cosmas will be tested by Victor Kipchirchir who has a personal best of 2:07:39 while Asnakech Mengistu Egigawehu (2:25:50) and Ticzita Terechu Dida (2:28:00) will both give Elizabeth a run for her money in the Women’s FM Open category.

Cosmas Matolo Muteti and Elizabeth Chepkanan Rumokol

Cosmas believes his success in the past two KLSCMs is due to the similar climatic conditions between his home base in Machakos County in Kenya and Kuala Lumpur so although Victor’s personal best is a pretty fast time, it was probably achieved in a non-humid and cooler climate. “After developing knee and muscle problems after the Singapore marathon last year, I have not participated in any marathons since and my body has been recovering and responding well to my training. I’m happy with my progress and I’m confident of being competitive enough to try and defend my title,” said Cosmas. “While I appreciate the competition from other strong runners, I’m still someone who runs without apprehension as I’m only concerned with my own race. My motto is ‘train hard and the winning will come automatically’ and I am really looking forward to racing in Kuala Lumpur, which has a special place in my heart,” added the champion.

In the Malaysian Women’s FM category, Loh Chooi Fern will be back to defend the title she won last year in 3:18:44 but is expected to better that time as she recorded a personal best sub 3 hour time in the Gold Coast Marathon earlier this year. Nur Amelia Musa, the wife of Nik Fakaruddin, will be her most serious competition in this year’s KLSCM but Loh is relishing the challenge. “Women are getting stronger in marathons and I expect to be pushed hard this year. This is great for the sport as intense but healthy competition can only serve to help us achieve better times,” said Loh.

The darling of the Malaysian Women’s HM category Sheela Samivellu, will be attempting to make it four in a row and it’s hard to see anyone going toe-to-toe with her in this year’s race. Sheela, who is also the national record holder over the distance and the course record holder, has not set any specific targets for this year’s race and just hopes to finish the race successfully. “When I’m in a competition, I regard everyone as competitors and usually don’t target specific people to beat. My ultimate goal is usually to just to run well and finish strongly,” said the modest Sheela.

Apart from the exciting contests in store in the blue-ribbon categories, SCKLM will again see its fair share of inspirational stories from incredible individuals who use the marathon as a springboard to motivate and challenge others to do more with their lives, none more so than Chris Koch. Born without limbs, Chris is a Canadian farmer, athlete, adventurer and motivational speaker who will be attempting to complete his eighth marathon using a special longboard. “This will be my first time in Malaysia and first time attempting a marathon in this sort of hot and humid climate. I’m grateful to the organisers for allowing me to participate in my eighth marathon in the third continent and am looking forward to this particular challenge,” said Koch.

The Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon has grown to become the premier distance running event in Malaysia that draws thousands of local and international runners to the country whilst firmly establishing Malaysia in the global running calendar. The 2019 edition will be the largest yet with 40,000 runners taking part, including 1,900 running tourists from 73 countries from around the world, and will once again see sponsorship from Title Sponsor Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, along with Under Armour, 100 Plus, Seiko, Jaybird, Pacific Regency, Banana Boat and TudungPeople.

 

For more information and updates on KLSCM, please visit:

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/SCKLmarathon
Twitter : www.twitter.com/SCKLmarathon
Instagram : https://instagram.com/SCKLmarathon
Website : www.kl-marathon.com

Benefits of Joining a Race – Why pay to torture myself?

Why should we invest time, effort and money to join races?

I have personally received many feedback about how it is wasteful to spend on races. The time and effort spent to train for the races are better off spent on other beneficial things they say. While I respect the opinion of others, I beg to differ.

We study for exams. Undergo training for work.

Should we simply take a chance in life?

Entering a race is like a learning process with many beneficial attributes for this lifetime and the next. Learning should never cease in one’s lifetime regardless of age. One should yearn for lifelong learning and should be willing to spend on beneficial education. Learning is not constrained only within the classroom walls. Learning happens everywhere. We spent most of our time learning through books in the classroom or perhaps reading online. We learn through experience, our own or from others, where it is most beneficial when followed by reflections. We learn best when we are able to apply the theory we learnt into practical exercises where we are able to relay and convert words into productive actions.


How do one learn to speak with confidence? Learn the techniques in theory in a classroom or from a book. Does it end there? Will one automatically develop confidence upon graduating from a theory only course? Definitely no. One needs to go for a series of lessons which includes practical exercises, speaking to the mirror, practice in a mock set up, etc. One will finally be successful when they eventually effectively deliver a talk/speech in front of a life audience.The police force, the armed forces, the fire fighters, the paramedics, doctors don’t become what they are just through books and lectures. They undergo a series of training to be able to perform effectively and efficiently when the time of need arrives. When the bell rings, when the siren sound
off, when the call is made… they are prepared. Prepared due to the practical lessons, intensive training, like it is the real thing and through repetition. And it is imperative because, the preservation of life, depends on them, their capabilities, their abilities to perform under stress.

How do we learn to have tawakkal (reliance on Allah alone)?

How do we practice istiqomah (steadfastness)?

How do we learn to instil discipline in ourselves?

How do we learn to develop sabr (patience)?

How do we foster teamwork, inculcate determination, resilience?

How do we become confident?

When Allah put trials and tribulation in our path,

is He torturing us?

Or training us?

I choose to believe the latter

We usually would wait till the next real life challenge or the next calamity before we
know whether we have any of those qualities and abilities . What if there is a way for us to develop these heaven-worthy qualities through self-imposed challenges? Wouldn’t it be better than to wait for something to happen to see whether we have such abilities?What if we are able to train ourselves purposefully to adopt those qualities? There are many ways… and one way is to enter a race.

Once we are committed to a race, we will have to plan our training schedule. Training must be progressive and adequate with enough time for rest and recovery. A poor plan or failure to follow the plan will result in poor performance or injury. One would definitely suffer throughout the race without proper training. With this knowledge, we instill discipline upon ourselves to keep to the training schedule and meet training objectives in order to compete/complete the race successfully.

A well planned training program is essential. We need to instil discipline to follow the program and to meet the training objectives. This ensures that we do not suffer during the race and not incur any injuries

Discipline and istiqomah Checked.

Race day. How can one not clearly see how completing a race comes with great benefits? The more difficult the race/challenge, the higher quality of benefits attained. Completing a race requires much determination. It not only requires physical strength, it calls upon great mental strength. The long distance, the elevation gain, the inclement weather, the obstacles – man-made and natural, the sheer fatigue are factors which can bring one down to the ground, admit defeat, call it quits, DNF.

Resilience is what drives one to cross the finishing line, jump over the fiery pit. The journey increases one’s level of situational awareness, sportsmanship. One learns to appreciate nature, His creations and ponder over His grace and blessings. Standing at the foot of a mountain makes us timid and humbled at His Magnificence. Standing at the summit will make us prostrate in gratitude, awed at its beauty. Racing in a team will foster teamwork, spirit of altruism, unity, patience. Promotes social wellness. Free falling requires one to embrace the essence of tawakkal. With landing knowledge in hand, safety checked, one surrenders to Allah as the feet land safely to the ground (or not). Wall/rock climbing promotes problem-solving skills, enhances coordination, increases strength. Completing the race/challenge brings a bout of newly attained confidence, increases one’s self- esteem, negates one’s uncertainties over her own abilities, upon His Mercy and Might.

There are some things that we simply cannot learn just from books

Determination, Resilience, Social Wellness, Environmental Wellness, Physical Wellness, Emotional Wellness, Spiritual Wellness, Sabr, Tawakkal, Confidence Checked.

Forging of camaraderie through hard times

The above mentioned qualities are probably less than 50% of the total wholesome benefits of completing a race/ challenge. Not to mentioned the health benefits it claims as made obligatory (wajib) in the deen. The best thing is, all these qualities and benefits does not end at the finishing line. It transforms us. Whatever we attained in that one challenge is applicable in real life as well! Tadaaaa.. (Surprising meh?) Having overcome such hardships willingly, in a controlled environment, we will be able to face anything that crosses our path in syaa Allah. What is a mere life’s obstacle when you have climbed mountains and touched the clouds, when you have jumped over walls, tumble through grit, run through pain and fatigue, swim across the ocean… Believe me, you will automatically apply the qualities you attained and reap the benefits. Our everyday chores becomes simpler, dreams and goals becomes more achievable, trials and tribulations becomes more palatable. Consider races and challenges you sign up for as simulations of a real life challenge. With the knowledge, you have made the effort and play your part to prepare yourself, when the real thing happens, you take action then you let go and let God.

He told us that life is nothing but trials and tribulation. Each one to prepare us for the next and every struggles is never in vain. Every hardship is a stepping stone and we get stronger at every successful step. He said knowledge is the key to paradise. Successful are those who bears patience and is grateful. We can choose to wait and see or work hard to prepare ourselves. We study for exams. Undergo training for work. Should we simply take a chance in life?

Lets calculate. (ROI vs Opportunity Cost)

  • $100 x 12 local races = $1200 spent on races (It’s not much for an lifetime investment)
  • 2hrs of training x 6 days x 52 weeks = 624 hours / 8760 hours in a year (7% of your total time!)
  • 624 x 500 = 312 000 calories loss (Is this not beneficial?)

A 1 hour walk will burn between 1.6 and 2.4 calories for every pound of your weight, depending on speed. That’s 250 to 350 calories for the average person walking pace

We all have 24hrs each day. 2 hours of training leaves us with 22 hours to do everything else. Sleep, rest, eat, work/attend school, attend religious classes, pray, housework, read, practice a hobby, meet friends, cook, spend time with family and much more. There is definitely much to gain than to lose. Need I say more?

In conclusion, being committed to a race will not only increases one’s physical strength but also mental, emotional and spiritual strength (with the right intentions and proper execution). It builds character, qualities one requires not only to complete a race but to overcome challenges in our everyday lives.

Disclaimer: To fully reap the benefits with barokah (His blessings), one must practice this within the stipulated laws of syariah and in moderation like everything else we do.

BMW Berlin Marathon 2018

It was sheer luck that I got to ballot as a team with Zamzamiah or better known as Amie for the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018. It was a last minute opportunity and Amie submitted our ballot in November ’17. When I found out about winning the ballot in January, I was shocked. Never had I dream about winning the ballot, what more running at one of the the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

To prepare for the Berlin Marathon, I registered and ran for the Malaysia Women Marathon 2018 in March ’18 and Standard Charted KL Marathon in April ’18.

The Expo

I took a 15 hour flight from Malaysia and arrived Berlin on a Friday, 14th Sept, two days before the race. Amie who was already on a solo backpack travel met up with me that morning and we headed to the Race Expo.

There were many exhibits at the entrance; safety cars, displays of the medals from 6 major marathons, list of runners who have raced in the 6 major marathons and many more. I managed to scribble my name on a small spot.

  • Hijabi Finishers at the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018
  • Malaysian Finishers at the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018
  • Zamzamiah did her personal best!
  • The Race Band, the Medal
  • The cute Adidas cup
  • The entrance of Race Expo
  • BMW Berlin Marathon Expo
  • A drive by Adidas to reduce plastic cup use
  • The medal for abbott world marathon majors six star finishers
  • The medals of the six major Abbot marathons
  • Malaysian runners who are Abbott world marathon majors six star finishers

 

As we walked further, there was a checkpoint for runners. A few volunteers were providing race bands for runners. As we walked in further, we saw many booths of merchandisers and running organisers, mostly from Europe. The booth to pick up the race kit was at the very end but there was no queue. We were given our race number and timing chip swiftly.The queue to pick up pre-order finisher tee was already long and we waited patiently for about 30 minutes.

The Adidas booth was always full. Runners and visitors were busy purchasing the event tee. It was selling like hot cakes for Euro30 each. We came back to get more the day after and they were already gone. So do your shopping early if you see a good bargain. We picked up the adidas drinking cup that we could use for the race – in support of their effort to reduce plastic use.

Outside of the booth area were more car display, BMW hot-air balloons and an old plane.

The Race

On the race day, which was two days after, we took the train to the race area at 7:30am. The crowd started to build up. The flag off was done in 3 waves ; 9:15am, 9:30am and 10am.

 

At the start line, everyone was bumped up by the music. As the minutes get closer to the 10am flag off, some just loose their sweaters on the streets and dash.

It was a perfect day to run. The sun was out and the weather was simply beautiful.

The routes were nice and flat. I loved checking out the city on foot and enjoyed the crowd cheering and playing music along the way. I think there were close to a dozen of performers playing music along the way and outside of cafes. At 1pm we were told about the new world record set by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge at 2:01:39.

  • Putting on the Race Band at Expo
  • The main Expo Hall
  • The Route
  • All excited to start
  • More Halls
  • Scribble your name on it

There were many volunteers providing peeled and cut bananas & apples at designated water stations and later ultra sports energy gels.  You can choose to fuel up with water, hot tea and energy drink.

I was happy to be able to finish the 42.195km run with more than 40,000 other runners and receive the medal for my son. It was my worst timing, but I was grateful. I wasn’t in my best state of health.

Congrats to finishers & May the Abbot Major Marathons be with you!

SCKLM: Suraus for Muslim Runners

Standard Chartered KL Marathon is only a few days left and we want you to go through the smoothest experience you’ve ever had. This time round we would like to help all the muslims to feel at ease performing prayers during the running period.

Here are the routes provided by the organizer:

Half Marathon Route Map

For half marathon, the suggested prayer area is located at the side road of the Lebuhraya Duta – Ulu Kelang (DUKE) when you’ve reached 11km, slightly after you pass the water station. Though there is only one surau suggested here, there are also few mosque along the road.

The first mosque you’ll pass through is the Masjid Jamek before you hit 1km running. After 14km running, you’ll meet another mosque Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan. If you can make it on time, at the end of the route, you’ll see the last mosque which is Masjid Negara.

 

Full Marathon Route Map

As for Full Marathon, more suraus are suggested here. The first surau you’re going to pass is at 14km running (close to Tabung Haji & water station). Then, you’ll see a surau by the road side of Jalan Ampang after 15km run. After Kompleks Sukan Datuk Keramat and LRT Jelatek you’ll find another surau located at the road side of Jalan Jelatek. At 19km run, the surau is located close to the checkpoint by the road of Jalan Setiawangsa. The last surau that is suggested for marathoner is close to the checkpoint is at the DUKE road, that is after 26km running.

Just to inform, the mosque available near the route is the same as what the half marathoner will pass: Masjid Jamek, Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan and Masjid Negara.

Few tips on prayer guidance:

  1. Don’t forget your prayers even when you’re running
  2. Jangan lupa solat walaupun bersukan berjam-jam! (in bahasa Malaysia)

Hope this helps! Share it with others so they can also schedule their prayers early before the run! 🙂

Running at the 6th Malaysia Women Marathon

Ladies ran in tutus, colorful attires and all sorts of gears. But it’s not just the ladies, the male pacers ran in tutus too at the Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM). That was how supportive the men are!  Indeed there were more men at the recent MWM. After all, 18% and 26% of the finishers at the Half Marathon and Full Marathon respectively were men.

Ran the Full Marathon in this new design – a swimwear

Runners in Tutu

The categories at the MWM were the 5 km, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km. Ladies came to the run for fun and sisterhood. Many took advantage of the event to catch up with girl friends the healthy way. That was why, the 5 km category is the most popular, with more than 2,300 registered runners, followed by 1,700 runners for 10 km. I participated in the least famous category – the full marathon with 250 registered runners (including male pacers). 166 ran that morning and only 61 runners finished, and 74% of the finishers were ladies. Many were not able to finish their run, not because they were not able to finish within the cut off time, but was stopped at many points due to safety reasons. I was one of the unfortunate ones.

Info from MWM Organiser

The route

The route for 10 km, 21 km and 42 km were the same, only that the later two required more rounds. It was a loop of 10 km. Sounds pretty simple, but many didn’t know the 10 km route consisted of many inclines, one after another. That’s quite a challenge to offer to lady runners, but they braved through the ‘obstacles’ anyways.

Since all runners except the 5 km category shared the same route, we bumped into each other a lot. I was tired after 7 am after 3 hours of running and just watched the 10 km runners speeding away. As I went through the hills for the 3rd round, my legs were already in pain and looking at hills ahead was not encouraging. What came through my mind was crazy. I never hated running till that day. I felt my wimpy legs were back and that running was not for me. It was my worst run. I always enjoyed the races I participated in. The pain and hardship were expected, but this time, it was different. Going through hills one after another in 4 loops just killed my motivation. I was determined to finish the run anyways and reserved my energy to go through the hill for the last loop. When I reached the 3rd checkpoint, they stopped me although it was just 4 hr 30 mins only. The volunteers claimed it was not safe to run and that I could run at my own risk as they were not able to control the traffic. True – I saw no traffic policemen at all! I ran back to the finish line feeling devastated.

Moreover, the motorists need to be considerate and thoughtful in having some tolerance in supporting public sports event. We witnessed roudy behaviour of motorists wanting traffic to move at roundabout junction and honked incessantly. When the runners tried to explained, the drivers lashed out with bad words. Some motorists stopped and moved the cones so they could move. This shouldn’t have happened in a civil society.

3/4 of the Elevation for Full Marathon

I arrived at the Race Village looking at happy faces taking loads of pictures at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam. Everybody loved the medal! Congrats to all running sisters, looking pretty and sweaty always!

I had friends who finished the full marathon at previous MWM and said would run back again, but only for 5 km. Now, I understood why. The marathon was suited for elite runners. Three days after the run, only the 61 finisher names were listed on the race result page. I did not expect an e-cert from this race, but it was as if I didn’t even run.

Faces of Happy Finishers

The half marathon Finishers!

The half marathon finishers

We will finish our next Full Marathon, insyaAllah. More training required!

Supposed to be Nahsuhah's 13th Full Marathon, but unable to complete.

Supposed to be Nahsuhah’s 13th Full Marathon, but unable to complete.

Finishers get a bouquet of white orchids

Ever Supportive Running Ladies

What I like about this year’s run?

  • Plenty safety cones
  • Amazingly supportive and cheerful volunteers. They cheered for runners along the way, non-stop.
  • Many and supportive pacers. Amazing!
  • RELA volunteers worked hard managing the traffic at roundabouts and junctions
  • Many water stations
  • Route was shady
  • Lovely finisher items
  • Glamorous and colorful

Some key learning :

  • Physically go through the route prior to the race
  • Run long distance races at major running events
  • More hill training, more training
  • It is about the experience. Choose the one that pushes you forward

I ran in Nashata new swimwear design. Yes, a swimwear – i just felt like running in it that day! Till we run again! Woman Up! #pressforprogress

Note : Pictures are from MWM organiser, running sisters and Super Sergio

Jeri Villareal: The Hijabi Iron Woman

Jeri Villareal is a modest and committed triathlete from St. Louis, Missouri. Working in the Information Technology Service Lead, this incredible 41 year-old mother is also an urban farmer. Her races usually include three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines which are swimming, cycling and running or better known as triathlon.

Nashata team regularly received Jeri’s pictures on Instagram account, @nashatadotcom wearing Hooda Sports Hijab while competing in her triathlon events. After following her account @modestlytri.ing for some time we knew that she is one of the amazing sportswomen that could inspire people to live with passion. Let’s follow our interview to learn more about Jeri’s incredible journey.

N: Nashata
J: Jeri

“I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years.”

N: Do you remember your first triathlon? Tell us how you became a triathlete.
J: My very first triathlon was a small local race. It consisted of a 300 yard pool swim, 20 mile bike and 4 mile run. My swim was somewhat slow but steady but I got on my bike and was able to pass a couple of people. Unfortunately, I missed the turn off and ended riding an additional 4 miles. I was so upset but ended up continuing on to the run and finish last. I learned to always review the course before the race. There is nothing worse than getting lost during a competition.

N: What inspires you to become a triathlete?
J: I first started running. Running was something that I never thought I would be any good at. However, I used it as a way to ward off depression that developed for me in the short days of the winter months. Running outside made me happy and in the cool months, my hijab was comfortable. It was a great fit. I found that the more I ran, the better I became and I progressed from running in my neighbourhood, to running a 5K then 10K and half marathons. One day a friend of my family asked me if I had ever considered triathlon. I told her I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years. However she told me that if she could compete at age 60, surely I could compete. I took up the challenge and learned to ride a bike and worked on my swim stroke. 7 months later, I competed in my first triathlon.

N: Where do you usually train?
J: I train at my local gym and also I created a workout room in my basement so there is no excuse for missing my training. I have a treadmill, a bike trainer, rowing machine, resistance bands and weights.

N: Did you have a coach when you first participate in your first triathlon event?
J: At the time of my first event. I did not have a coach. However, I did get a coach soon afterwards.

N: How different is it to train by yourself and with a coach for the event?
J: It is so helpful to train with a coach because they can see the small things that you do that could cause injury or they can make changes to your form so that you are more effective. Also they can give you specific exercises or workout to help improve your particular limitation to help your reach your personal goals quickly.

N: Which is the hardest part of triathlon?
J: For me, it’s open water swim. Especially in a lake. It make me a bit anxious when all I see is darkness in the water. I learned to overcome that fear by swimming in the pool with my eyes closed and only open my eyes when taking a breath. That exercise helps me relax once I get into the murky waters of a lake.

N: How do you tackled getting out of a wetsuit quickly? Is it an issue for a hijabis triathlete?
J: While many triathlons have “wetsuit strippers”, kind volunteers that will assist you in getting out of your wetsuit quickly. I avoid their help with the wetsuit. Their good intentions could result in uncovering more than of your body than you would want. I use a two-piece wetsuit consisting of pants with bibs and then a wetsuit top that goes over that. When I was exiting the water, I can unzip and remove the top without concern of revealing anything and I take the bib straps off of my shoulders. By the time I get to transition, I just have to roll down the pants and slip them over my feet. To me, the two-piece wetsuit is not only easy to get in and out of, it also is less constricting over your chest which can be helpful for those that feel chest constriction with traditional wetsuits.

“The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life.”

N: As a Muslim triathlete who wears a hijab, have you ever experienced bitter moments where people would be prejudice about your religion? Do share your story with us.
J: The triathlon community is a very kind one in general. However I think a very well-meaning woman made a comment that she has seen me at several triathlons and she always “felt sorry for me” because I seems so uncomfortable. I didn’t even know how to respond. The last thing I expected was anyone to pity me for the chose that I made as a Muslim woman to wear hijab. The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life. The comment sat with me for a long time and it really did affect me. I feel sorry for her that she didn’t understand the beauty of hijab.

“A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day.”

N: What is your advice to the other Muslim women who are participating in triathlon event?
J: Speak to the race director to ensure that they are aware that will be competing fully covered. There are sometimes rules about how much of your body you can cover. A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day. You do not need to ask “permission” to practice your religion. This conversation is simply to educate those that may not understand why they can’t write your race number on your leg or your arm. Or why you must cover your legs and arms during the swim when wetsuits are not allowed.

N: When is your upcoming event?
A: I just finished Ironman Cartagena 70.3 on December 3rd. That was my last event of the year. In 2018, I look forward to the local St. Louis Triathlon Olympic distance occurring in May. Later in the summer there is Ironman Steelhead 70.3 and Ironman Brazil 70.3

N: How is your diet like today? Was it different with what you usually have before being a triathlete?
J: Today I follow a fairly paleo diet. I enjoy eating lots of vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, meats and healthy fats but only consume ancient and sprouted grains sparingly me. Sweets are my weakness and I avoid sugar while training for a race. I usually tighten my diet 8 weeks from race day. Before becoming a triathlete I ate so much sugar. It was in everything and I didn’t even realize it. I was always a lover of green leafy vegetables though.

N: Describe the training process for a triathlon. How did you prepare–both mentally and physically?
J: Training for a triathlon means training for 3 sports. Additionally, as an athlete over 40 years old, it is vital to incorporate recovery into my schedule. I have 2-3 weekly swim workouts, 2-3 run workouts and 2-3 bike workouts. One of the workout will be either a speed or strength building workout like hill training or interval speed work. Also one of the workout will be endurance-based like a long run (5+ miles), a long bike (20+ miles) or a straight swim (2,000+ yards). I also do yoga twice per week for recovery and weight training twice per week.
During a heavy training load, 10 hours or more a week, I tend to get deep tissue massages. I also have tried alternative recovery techniques to combat inflammation such as cryotherapy and relaxing in an infrared sauna.

“I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry.”

N: What do you wear for your triathlon event? Do you prepare specific sports gear for each of the activities?
J: I wear what is called a triathlon kit, which is a one-piece outfit with short-sleeves and shorts. The bottom of this kit includes a thin, waterproof pad for additional comfort on the bike. Under the kit, I have leg coolers and Nashata arm coolers. Each piece is designed for air-flow and a cooling effect. These extra pieces also provide coverage for modesty as well. Outside of the water, I put on a skirt for additional modesty while biking and running.
In the water, I wear polarized, prescription goggles. My vision is poor and these goggles are a lifesaver. While they come in clear and smoke lenses, the smoke lenses are my choice because they keep the sun and glare out my eyes when swimming.
I have bike shoes that have cleats on the bottom to connect my feet to my special bicycle pedals. This allows me to apply for force at a faster rate without fear that my feet will fly off of the pedals. My bike helmet is an extremely lightweight, aerodynamic helmet which is designed for speed and performance.
I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry. The airflow is perfect for me on the bike because I am usually still wet from the swim.

N: We’ve seen you wearing Hooda Sports Hijab in your Instagram posts. Tell us your favourite Nashata wear.
A: Just one? Honestly, I love all of the options that Nashata provides! However I think Hooda is my favorite because of its practicality. It is also lightweight, quick-drying and provides wonderful airflow. These are all things that are vital to making a triathlete comfortable.

“In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike.”

N: Where would you suggest new triathletes to go for a practice in The United States? Tell us the nicest spots you’ve ever been to.
A: There are so many options for practicing and building your skills in many areas of the United States. In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike. This is usually a skill that is built with a lot of practice. The locations have long inclines for triathletes to build their climbing endurance. In Florida, there is an immersive swimming technique class for triathletes that can get them ready for open water swim by practicing certain techniques in the pool. Areas like southern Texas, Florida and California are great locations for triathletes in the rest of the country to practice in the very late or early season due to their mild winters. When it’s snowing in December in Missouri, I can swim outdoors in Orlando, Florida.

“I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.”

N: Have you ever participated a triathlon in a different country? What was it like?
A: December 3rd, I travelled to Cartagena, Colombia to compete in a Half Ironman. The experience was absolutely amazing. Arriving in the country I immediately noticed that people were very curious about me. They took photos of me and requested that I be in photos with them. The children that watched the race were very fascinated with me and called out to me specifically to cheer me on and told me that they loved me and referred to me as “Aunty”. As a Muslim woman competing in hijab in a foreign and predominantly Christian country, I know I am an ambassador for all Muslims whether I want to be or not. It is an honour that I take very seriously and I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.

N: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about triathlon?
J: The challenge of triathlon is so great. I enjoy that fact that there are so many facets to the race. You can have an excellent swim and a difficult bike and turn everything around while running. There are people that are good at all three sports or some that find they excel in one particular sport over the other two. Regardless of your level of skill you will never participate in a triathlon and not hear a perfect stranger cheer for you and say encouraging words. When triathletes see someone struggling, that is they cheer for them the loudest. This sport is kind.

N: What is your advice to the new triathletes?
J: Remember that you don’t have to be better than anyone on the course, just be the best version of yourself. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward.

N: What do you wish for in the future?
J: I would like to work on improving my swim and run times and work on my climbing skills. I believe I can be a better version of myself and look forward to seeing her very soon.

N: We wish you the best of luck in life! Thank you so much for agreeing to do the interview with us. We gained a lot of information from your wonderful experiences.
J: Thank you so much!

Sometimes we are too busy competing with other people that we overlook what’s truly important, to be the best version of ourselves. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward. Thank you Jeri for the wonderful reminder!

5 Things You Need To Know If You Swap Bibs

Do you know the ramifications of changing bib ‘illegally’- that is without proper personal data changing? Ever wondered the consequences of joining sporting events using someone else’s personal data ? These are the 5 things that may occur :

1 : Next of kin uncontactable 

When you get injured or faint, the medics on duty will immediately send you to a health centre for further treatment. The contact number stated on the bib will be dialled to inform family members or guardians. Imagine if the contacted person is far from the incident and came all way just to find that the one injured isn’t their relative. Well, that ignites the fire within.

2 : Organizer has no information of you at all

Almost the same situation as Scenario 1. Only the organizer will be interrogating you till you’re bummed out. That is, if you’re still alive. Don’t even mention the word DEATH. How are they going to solve this issue when not a single personal information of yours is stated on the bib?

Muslimah Runners with Bib

Muslimah Runners with Bib.

3 : Wrong medical treatment 

Still the same situation but with a different fallout. What if the medics request for your medical data? For example, getting information on your blood type or allergies or diseases you’re diagnosed with. If the data stated on the bib isn’t yours, they could treat your illness with the wrong remedies. This may lead to instant death.

4 : Recognition not yours

Even if you’re running your best to the point where you’re on the brink of unconsciousness, you don’t get to receive the medal you ran so hard for, nor do you have the chance to bask in glory on the podium. The timing is also not yours but belongs to the ‘official’ racer. Wouldn’t that be a waste of your effort?

5 : Your reputation at stake

Be respectable in the sporting event as equal participants.  What would you say if you were to bump into another runner you know while wearing another person’s bib? People may perceive you as a cheater, and could ruin your reputation. Even if you were to try avoid this by not wearing a bib, the consequences are on you if you faint with no contact number for the medics to call.

So, do you still want to use someone else’s bib? If you are unable to race and would like to transfer to someone else, check with organizer or race director if possible. If it is, make sure all information is updated accordingly.

[Credits to Redz Ismail, a daily marathon runner, for the tips.]

Redz Ismail is as seasoned runner & a friend to Nashata Runners.

Redz Ismail is a seasoned runner & a friend to Nashata Runners.

Why the Malaysia ? Women ? Marathon is so Special

Whenever MWM is around the corner, I get both excited and agitated; excited to meet the runners and customers, and agitated because I wanted to run but uncertain if I could. I have to balance between spending time with my customers and running, both of which I enjoy.

veteran Runner Intan Suraya finished her 10th full marathon strong

Veteran Runner Intan Suraya finished her 10th full marathon strong. She never fails to run the marathon at MWM

Back to why the MWM is so special. It is beyond running. It is about enriching women to grow. This year, there were a two-day workshop plus a dialogue session on the 3rd and 4th March respectively, followed by the run on the 5th March. Here are the three things that happened at the MWM 2017. Be prepared to view loads of pictures. They tell the stories better  ?

1. The Workshop & Dialogues
Women Empowerment Workshop, supported by Gorgeous Geeks on 3rd March (Friday)
About 50 ladies from Pusat Wanita Berdaya (PWB) Selangor attended the session on online marketing, personal branding and organic and halal cosmetic industry. Pusat Wanita Berdaya is a platform to encourage women of local communities to be actively involved in community works and also business related to empower their family economic background. Julia Koh, Azrina Naimuddin and I got to share our experiences. It was a good session; many took pictures of our sharing. If you are keen to know what I have shared, you can download my deck here. Details of the workshop can be found here.

Gorgeous Geek Speakers

Ladies from Gorgeous Geek ; Alecia Heng, Julia Koh & I

Pusat Budaya Wanita Selangor

Attentive ladies from Pusat Budaya Wanita Selangor

Lyana and Farah - my running adik-adik TKCOGA just know how to have fun!

Lyana and Farah – my running adik-adik TKCOGA just know how to have fun!

Women Dialogue Session on Gender Equality on 4th March (Saturday)
A panel of women and a man shared their thoughts about gender equality, by YB Zuraida Kamaruddin, Pn. Hajjah Noraida Yusof, Anas Alam Faizli and Freda Liu, moderated by Hazleen Aziz. Then many of us wrote & signed our pledges on the Wall of Gender Equality. My other half was supposed to sign with me, but he was away… so I signed for both.

Signing our Pledge on the Wall of Gender Equality

Signing our Pledge on the Wall of Gender Equality

                           “We are equal but not the same” by Ritz & Eliza

To me, we both have equal rights but the rights are not the same. Our abilities are not the same either.

The ladies behind the MWM : YB Dr. Daroyah & Pn Noorul

Among the ever-supportive ladies behind MWM : YB Dr. Daroyah & Pn Noorul

2. The Expo

The expo coincided with the Race Kit collection days. It was where the sponsors like Nashata offer great bargains for runners. I have to applaud the staffs at Accapella Hotel Shah Alam for providing great hospitality. They were helpful and generous – offering good assistance at all times.

We released a few new products at our booth and many cool running items were marked down – so that the runners get value for money. Next time, we will get a bigger booth for a better shopping experience for you ladies. Thank you so much for your patience. ?

Sarah & Nazura from Nashata

The girls who worked worked tirelessly the past 3 days – Sarah & Nazura

3. The Run
I wanted to run but agitated because I knew I would be tired prior to the race. I needed enough sleep, rest and well-hydrated to run. My plan to run from 42km, got knocked down to 21km and after setting up Nashata booth at 545am, I felt like trying my luck to run the 10km. So ask if I could run and got lucky. I was so delighted to get a bib to run.  So off I went running at 630am from Stadium Shah Alam. It was a good day, a hilly route, and I have no complains except Alhamdulillah.

Lydia Hashim & I after 10km Run

Lydia Hasim & I after 10km Run. We were overtaking each other and later finished together. Lydia is one of the first Malaysian duo who cycled Across Sahara last month, recognised by the Malaysia Book of Record

 

Rezeki on a Sunday Morning

Rezeki on a Sunday morning. My Garmin watch was my timing chip. Finished within 1:07:38 +- 10 secs.

Happy to see Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir

#RunHappy. Vanida Imran, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir & Ivy Josiah ran happy with friends

Fara Fauzana & running fans

Fara Fauzana & running fans

Maslina & friend - 21km finisher

Maslina Muhamad & Azlina Abdullah looking great after their 21km run

Siti all drenched after the run

Siti all drenched after the run

Alecia Heng & family ran the 6km category

The running Gorgeous Geek – Alecia Heng brought her family to run the 6km category

Dr Sarah Shamsuddin the Running Doctor wears Nashata leggings, skirt & sports hijab

Dashing Dr Sarah Shamsuddin, the MWM Running Doctor wears Nashata leggings, skirt & sports hijab

Runners are the MWM 2017

Runners have most creative POSES. This by Maslina Muhamad

Emmy the Active Mom

Emmy is always in Sporting events with her children. Such a sporting supportive  Mom. She wears Nashata Azza Toplectic

Karen Loh - The strong lady behind 5 consecutive years of MWM

Last but not least, Karen Loh – The strong classy lady behind 5 consecutive years of MWM. ??

There were more things to enjoy at the MWM like the flyyoga and children’s run. Check out Aina theweekendrunner’s post for her side of the story. She ran the 21 km half marathon.

If you missed this year’s MWM, try not to miss it in 2018. MWM 2017 is a wrap with Alhamdulillah. See you next year, InsyaAllah.

What I think about when I think about running [at 2am]

Disclaimer: This post has no relation to Haruki Murakami’s book. However a very popular question that I get from spectators who were cheering for us by the roadside at 2 am was “Why is everyone doing this? Why is everyone up at 2 am?” has left me pondering. On the flip side, I have no idea why these villagers are not asleep too at 2 in the morning.

Our happy faces at 2am. It is never too early to get excited!

Our happy faces at 2am. It is never too early to get excited!

The #KLWolfpack taking over Kuching

The #KLWolfpack taking over Kuching

Passing by villages and its friendly population is the norm for Kuching Marathon. I enjoyed the supportive atmosphere from last year so much, that I decided to upgrade myself to the full marathon category for this year. Coupled by good reviews from runners who participated in previous years, I was convinced that I made the right choice to come to Kuching again. I was so wrong.

The race started very early in the morning at exactly 2 am. The gun time was perfect, as the sun is not out yet and we enjoyed the cool morning air. Just like last year, the race started with a quick prayer, asking for Allah’s blessings so this event will run smoothly, and to protect the runners from any harm or injury. The first 10km was a breeze, and everything was going well. It was only the “warm-up phase” anyways.

A few kilometers later I spotted a water station, but there was hardly a line since no one was stopping there. It turns out that they have ran out of water. “It’s ok, I still have some water from my own bottle”, I said to myself. It did not take very long my own supply to deplete quickly. Empty plastic bottles were strewn around the next few water stations, but still there was no water in sight. There was hardly any petrol station at this part of the route, and I had to resort to asking a runner if he could spare a few sips of his 100 Plus. Bless this gentleman’s soul for sharing!

By the 25km, perhaps my running form was really bad, or I looked like I was about to collapse, but I noticed that the medic van was slowly trailing behind me and the driver was looking very concerned. I was losing my momentum from the thirst. I tried to shake it off – DNF is not an option! The only way for me to end up on that van is when I really passed out, not when I almost feel like passing out. I decided to take it easy until I find water. I think it was best for me to take things down a notch so I don’t pass out from dehydration. My focus has shifted from achieving another PB for 42km to just completing the race within the cut off time.

Finally, a water station that actually has water! Why use only one hand to drink when you can use both sides?

Finally, a water station that actually has water! Why use only one hand to drink when you can use both?

Speaking of PBs, I did some self-reflection: I noticed that I have been improving for 10km and 21km, but I have yet to break the barrier at 30km, as it have been hovering around the 4:20-4:30 hour without much improvement. Any thoughts on why is this happening and how can I fix this?

I finished the race just barely within the extended cut off time (the organizers extended the cut off time from 6.5 hours to 7 hours), feeling exhausted like I have just finished the hardest race of my life. I don’t think that I will be back again for Kuching Marathon next year, but I’ll hunt for another full marathon event to renew my PB.

Oh hey cat with bib and vest, did you get dehydrated from running too?

Oh hey cat with bib and vest, did you get dehydrated from running too?

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.