Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Malaysia Women Marathon 2014 - Race Report



MWM here I come!

Flying into the haze...

Last year I truly wanted to take part in the inaugural Malaysia Women Marathon. Unfortunately the time was just not right for MBF. However after she completed last year's River Jungle Marathon, I was able to persuade her to sign up for this year's MWM. Have always liked the idea of a full marathon dedicated entirely to women. The fact that they have chosen to include men as pacers in the 21km and 42km category is something truly unique to a woman's marathon. We all have to thank Karen Loh for coming up with this marathon. I know how hard it was for her to get the first one going. The second edition has grown to the point where 4,000 plus runners signed up for it. The only worry for all of us was that the haze had come. The week before I had run the Brooks Half Marathon, and the haze too was a problem. However we all ran it safely. This time around the haze was much worse...

Meeting up with Karen Loh

When we landed at KLIA the visibility was so bad that it was scary. There was a smoky smell in the airport itself. Everywhere we went we smelled it. We runners don't smoke for a reason. The haze only serves to highlight this. The hot spots were at Banting and Port Klang. However Shah Alam had high readings too. None of Selangor was spared from the haze. All we could do was hope and pray for rain. Went to the Expo to pick up our race packs and that of our friends who would arrive later in the day. The first person we met up with was Karen herself. It's always good meeting up with familiar faces. The race pack collection went without a hitch. Then we met up with Aeda and Rashid. Tey Eng Tiong was there as always with his trusty cameras. Managed to snap a pic with Jamie Pang.  There was Sean World himself. Maggie Kim Hong Goh was there with a friend. There was Karen Geh and her hubby promoting the Starlight Ultra, which I have signed up for by the way.

Meeting up with Aeda and Rashid

Catching Tey on camera

Meeting with the ultra Jamie Pang

Together with Sean World himself

An Ironman who can really squat!

Meeting up with Maggie and friend

With Karen Geh and the Starlight Ultra goodies

The Starlight Ultra medal and run vest

Karen Geh's hubby

Me taking a Goof timeout

We then attended the motivational talks. Caught Andrew and Sue O'Brien talking about the various marathons that were being promoted at the Expo. I must say the Laguna Phuket International Marathon looks very enticing. Especially so since I have never run with elephants. Andrew and Sue are truly a running couple. They are the runners who co-wrote "Couple on the Run". It's about them running eight marathons in eight countries in eight weeks. Not many couples can claim to have such running experiences together. Met up with Satyo Haryo, the man behind the Bali Marathon, and also Andrew Loh, the man behind the Penang Ultra. Maggie was there too. It was nice sitting among the running experts. We were all there to hear Catherine Ndereba speak.  She is one very special woman who during her running carrier was world champion twice, held the world record twice, won the Boston Marathon four times, and was twice silver-medalist at the Olympics.

Hooking up with the Bali Marathon man: Satyo Haryo

Maggie, Andrew Loh (Penang Ultra), me and Satyo

Look how fast Maggie goes!

Thorn among the roses?

Pretending to run and it isn't working

Me with Catherine Ndereba!

After listening to Catherine speak I was truly motivated. In fact I was one of the lucky ones to get up on stage with her. She is the first Kenyan runner I have met and talked to about running. I learned so much from her one hour talk. How I wish many more had taken the time to attend it. She showed that women can run after having children. Her husband Anthony Maina took care of their daughter Jane while she ran. Catherine is deeply religious and she used her faith to strengthen herself mentally on her runs. She finished sixth at her first marathon in Boston, after having completely stopped at 40km. Her time was 2:28.27. She would come back five years later to win it. Child-birth has made her stronger and her feet grew one size larger! Hearing her speak in person was much better than reading any book by a running expert. This woman has lived through it all. When one is in the presence of greatness it is truly inspiring.

L-R: Sean, A Shek Ek, Me, Jimmy Teh, Beng Chit Khoo, Jennifer Ang and Sharon Ng

Andrew and Sue O'Brien

Nashata fashion show

Me and Max Lim

Aeda starring me right in the face at press conference

Dinda Intan Suraya

Eliza Noordin (left) answering questions

Intan and Aeda in casual wear

Later met up with the beautiful Jimmy Teh. A Shek Ek was there too. Finally managed to snap a photo with Max Lim, our celebrity blogger. When I grow up I want to be just like him. I also want the running shoes he wears. Would have wrestled them from him but for the fact we don't have the same size feet. Found myself at a fashion show after that. The running clothes highlighted were from Nashata and made exclusively for female runners of the Muslim faith. Then attended the press conference. As a running blogger I was really interested in what they had to offer. The presence of all those leggy models helped. I asked the tough questions since I have seen many female Muslim runner over-dressed for a run because they needed to cover themselves. The materials used by Nashata were the latest available in the market. Was truly impressed at what they had and hope that many Muslim women will wear such running apparel.  Didn't recognise my friend Aeda, who was one of the models, since she had a head scarf on.

Lets run!

We took our sweet time at the Expo and only left when they were starting to close shop. My friends I Cung and Cynthia Andrew were there. Met up with Arturo and Alana, and handed them their race packs. Then it started to rain. Nothing heavy mind you, but just the sight of rain made all of us rejoice. The Air Pollutant Index (API) began to plummet. I who had thought the race might not be run was so regretting my tea time indulgence of eight too many croissants. With happy smiles we all went back to our hotels. Must admit that we checked the API as long as we could and it continued to keep on going down.  That's just the sleep tonic we needed. Woke really early as I Cung and Cynthia were picking us up. Can you imagine my surprise when we came out of the hotel at 4am and it smelled so smoky. In fact it smelled even worse than when we first arrived in Shah Alam! My heart completely dropped.  I knew after my Brooks Half Marathon run that this wasn't good news at all.  

True enough when we got to the race site we were informed that due to the unhealthy API readings the race had been changed to a fun run. All of us agreed that we would run it. I ran with Nasa Zaidul, whom I was pacing on her second FM. Olivia Jikus was running her maiden FM. Cynthia was with us. Like me she was now a veteran of many an FM. We ran as a group. The idea was never to finish the run. From the get go we knew that would not be possible. The first km told me all I needed to know. This was definitely not BHM. I love my lungs too much to keep on running. After we reacedh the first checkpoint the women were complaining of runny noses. So after doing just a bit more than one-tenth of the FM distance we headed back to the finish line. I know some of us were disappointed, but we all had to put our health first. I am sure if push came to shove all of us could have at least completed 21km.

Had run with my homemade Hawaiian skirt with Iban design on it. I must say I enjoyed the experienced. Then changed to the finisher skirt. That was yet another experience altogether. Mingled with the others and took lots of pics. Quite a few constant runners came up to me and asked me to take pics with them. I was more than happy to oblige. It's heartening to know that many women do read my blog. Many thanks for coming up to me. I may look like a crazed pirate, but I assure you I am happy to meet up with my constant runners. There was Uncle Oliver Ker. I must say I was so happy to see him again after his injury. I truly hope to meet up with him yet again on another run.  The ever-smiling YK Foo was there. So took was Hafiz Aizat Yanan, who was dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood. Only the Big Bad Wolf was missing in action. Many runners were dressed up for the occasion as can be seen from the pics below...

YK Foo and me

Hafiz Aizat Yanan, me and YK Foo

More runners joining us

Nasa joins us

Even more runners joining us

Me, Cynthia and Nasa

Uncle Oliver, Nasa and me

Nasa, me, Olivia Jikus and Cynthia

Another runner joins us

Red Riding with the hood off, me, and Uncle Oliver

Uncle Oliver and me flank Francisco Zill and Maria

Me with Francisco and his hand

Aeda joins us

Frances Ngu joins us

The also pretty Jimmy with me

Three hotties!

I Cung joins us

Me with Reuben Su

Tutu Sandwich!

The running banana boys from Japan and their hotties

Very close up shot of my tunny

Rashid minus glitter

Huffing and puffing through the haze

21km runners flag off

Why so serious?

Very determined faces

Happy to be running

Meeting up with Suzie

Arman Arshad and Suzie Widyawati

Meeting a Ling Mien Yeo, a constant runner

A new type of victory dance?

This kind of looks dangerous...

The four of us with our skirts

Don't stare too long!

More posing for the cameras

Foreigners on the run

Am pretending to be Azian Mh's ex-boss

Air Asia girls!

More constant runners

Jimmy and the girls

Erniza Mohd Subni and us

Meeting up with Yann Eee

Guy in a dress

Booty time!

Posing with cuties!

Walking like a...?

The acrobatic girls...

These girls really know how to pose for the camera

Andrew and Sue join in the fun

I Cung wearing my skirt!

Maggi time!

Meeting up with Catherine again

Another constant runner

Khamrul Rasyid pacing Aeda

Reza Hafiz accompanying his 61 year-old aunt in the 5km fun run

The cereal girls

Milo Man!

Nescafe girl

No, my name is not Hishammuddin...

How I wish!

The Orange Lady

More constant runners!

Nasa with Catherine and Karen Loh

Olivia with Catherine and Karen Loh

Me with Catherine and Karen Loh

Me and the cheongsam lady: Siti Rugayah Ghazali

Another constant runner

A very sweaty Frances and me

The girls having a Doof time

Me and Fred Liew, Karen Loh's hubby

Speaking out against domestic violence

Our wild and wacky sweeper men

Air Asia sandwich!

Lucky draw prizes

Mohd Fuad and me reunite after TITI Ultra

Ling wins a diamond necklace!

Frances models the finisher bracelet

Reuben and me again

First met up at Road Share Run

Me with Jiki John

Uncle Oliver joins in

Another 1Borneo pic

Miranda and me

Frances and Miranda mugging for the camera

Me and Tey

Here comes the bride?

Chong Kir Jui joining us

My new Buff

The only thing  I did different for this run, apart from wearing a skirt, was to wear a buff. I chose the original Buff, because you cannot go wrong with them. Must say it was really comfy to wear. Chose the Saharane-style of wearing it, which worked well for me. I highly recommend it for Muslim women who just want to cover their hair. For those wanting to use a full headscarf, then they might choose what Nashata have. Next time I most probably should wear a wig after seeing so many men dressed in drag. The best looking men was without a doubt Jimmy! That man can out-dress most females out there. Then there was David Ong, who looked like the scariest schoolgirl ever! How I miss the presence of runners like Peter Yap and Marathon Mohan. I can only imagine how they would look like dressed up as women...  Who knows next year they might be tempted to do just that when they sign up for MWM.

David Ong before and after

Peter Yap being a cutie pie

Mohan asking what love has to do with it

After Eats...

After a run the thing I like to do is eat. Even the great Catherine Ndereba would treat herself to a steak after she ran a full marathon. Even if I didn't run the distance, it sure felt like I did. So we all went to William's Corner, located in Kelana Jaya at Taman Mayang Jaya.  I indulged in lots of delicious grub. Me being the sucker for anything big had a huge glass of his delightful Soda Herb. It consists of serai, sour plum, lemon, mint leaves and lots of lychee. This is a must order drink! It's nothing like I ever tasted before. All that are missing are the fishes. Then I would have called it an aquarium in a glass. There is also Ribena with lychee, pineapple asam boi with rambutan, and kedondong asam boi, the latter being my favourite. Unfortunately one glass is more than enough even for me. As we know William's wife, MBF and her went to school together, they served us many of their specialities. We didn't try the IJN Express, but I can say I will go back there to try that again.

1L of Soda Herb

Lamblicious

Chili Crab

Mini buns to soak the crab gravy

Arab rice

Marathon Man Platter (My wish!)

Steaky good time

XXL Creme Brulee

Chef William and me

After thoughts

I will most definitely run at MWM again. MBF told me she wants too. Yes we were disappointed that we didn't get to run it. However we enjoyed everything that had to do with the event. From the moment we stepped into the Expo till the moment we left the event we had so much fun. I met so many runners and made many new friends. The positive memories I will take back with me far out-weigh the haze problem.  It wasn't Karen, or her team, or her volunteers fault. The haze is something we all have to live with. Even in Sarawak we have it. What is important was that we got to celebrate the joy of running and also the camaraderie. We runners know all about how hard it is to set up a run like this, especially so since it is a run for women. This is something truly new to our area. I whole-heartedly support such events, and hope to do so in the future. Malaysia needs more such runs too!

While we still know nothing of the fate of MH370 and her crew and passengers, it is always nice to know that Malaysians everywhere continue to hope and pray for them. We celebrate the joy of running at events such as MWM, but we still remember those who are less fortunate than us. Not everyone can do what we all do. Lets hope through events such as these women will decide that they too can run like their sisters, and drag their husbands too as pacers. After all how many men out there can say they are the proud owner of a 42.195km finisher skirt. I will be proud to wear it at any FM I run.  My hope is that next year MWM comes back even better and stronger and that all of us will get the opportunity to run it. Am so glad I had the chance to be a part of this wonderful event. Am hoping that after my constant runners read this and see all the pics that they might give this marathon a try too. Happy running always!

(Would like to thank all those whose photos I used for this blog post, especially MWM, Tey, and Aeda)

My swag!

Close up of the medal

Guess who?

10 comments:

  1. I love that the men, including yourself, supported the women runners with such humour and spirit. I've never seen so many men gathered together wearing skirts before - and I lived in Scotland for five years! I think I see the start of a yearly tradition :)

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  2. Each time I see your post, I feel inspired. Runners like you, YK Foo, Uncle Oliver, etc are my motivational idols in the world of running. Although I am new to this (less than 6 months) but I hope to achieve what u guys had achieved and have fun achieving it. If I had the chance, would really like to meet u guys in person and take a snapshot n proudly boast it on my FB page ;-)

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  3. Am hoping that each year more men will sign up as pacers for their women. It is truly a wonderful experience. Plus guys get to flaunt their finisher skirts in public.

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  4. Victor, keep on running and you will run into me one day and get that snapshot. That is a promise.

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  5. Dear Yahya, It is a pleasure and an honor to meet you! I am inspired..Thank you too for supporting Nashata as well. Like I told you. I will always smile each time reading this entry. The haze was defeated by all of us runners! The vibe and the excitement was unbelievable. It is indeed a very detailed and precise report u make. BTW, that chilli crab and buns makes me feel hungry! haha! cheers!

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  6. It was nice meeting up with you too Eda. Run happy always!

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  7. Hey, it's me! I'm one of the girls in the pictures where you said 'posing with the cuties'. Hehe. Anyway nice meeting u that day! Hope to see u again! :)

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  8. Cool! Am always happy to meet my constant runners. Feel free to add me on Facebook. I use the same name (of course!) and profile pic. Happy running always!

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