The writer participates for the first time in an organised run where the men stand on the sidelines to cheer them on.
THE excitement started the minute my alarm rang at 5.45am on March 8. While women all around the world would be celebrating International Women’s Day, I would be making my own personal record - participating in a run for the first time.
I decided to join the third edition of the Malaysia Women Marathon after finding out about it on my Facebook newsfeed. Without too much thought I decided to join in, albeit starting off with the 5k (km) Fun Run, saving the 10k run for next time. An avid walker, I didn’t think I’d have too much trouble running the 5k.
After a light breakfast and a breezy drive, I arrived at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam at 7am, where the atmosphere was already festive and fun. There were lots of people, mostly women but with quite a few men too, probably those who had come to support their female friends and family members. Some were even spotted wearing skirts and wigs, in support of the feminine theme of the day.
Soon it was almost time to stand at the starting line. Before that, a group of Celebrity Fitness instructors gave me and my fellow 5k runners a warm up session. The 10 minute workout was exactly what I needed. Then, we observed a minute of silence to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the missing MH370.
As I waited patiently for the clock to strike 7.30am – the flagging off time for those running the 5k – I saw some of the early winners of the full marathon coming in. I couldn’t help but admire them as I imagined their training schedule and compared it to my own, which was jogging around my neighbourhood.
Before I knew it, it was time to go to the starting line. I could feel the excitement in the air as the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Mohamed Azmin Ali, got ready to flag us off.
In an instant, the runners in front were off. As much as I wanted to speed off, I had to wait for my turn to start running. The 5k Fun Run had attracted so many participants!
I started off nice and slow, jogging for one kilometre before settling on a brisk walk. It was then that I looked around me. My fellow 5k runners included Elizabeth Wong, the Selangor Exco member for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment. There were people from all walks of life, of different races, proportions and age.
A family was just in front of me: the mother and daughter were jogging and the father was trying to keep up while pushing a baby stroller.
There were a group of friends who were encouraging each other to run faster. My favourites were the family close to me who were wearing costumes, they certainly added colour to the run that morning.
As I jogged, I tried to take in the sights around me. The Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz, Selangor’s own Blue Mosque, was the one landmark we passed that sparkled in the sun. I knew that Shah Alam was a green city, but I didn’t quite realise just how calm and peaceful it was, until I ran that day.
The run was smooth thanks to the race marshals and policemen along the route. What was heartening to see was the camaraderie between runners and an unknown cheerleader along the way, urging us runners to carry on. Her encouragement did spur me onwards.
Although admittedly, I didn’t run all the way, the event was a good benchmark for me to see how far I could go. I ended up reaching the finishing line 10 minutes before my usual time, which for me was a personal record and one that I intend to beat as I continue training.
After completing the run, most of us headed to the various stalls in the square to have our share of cold Milo or Nestle cereal. Many stayed on for the lucky draw prizes by Garmin, Ice Watch and Bizzy Body.
Although I wasn’t lucky enough to win any of the prizes, it was really good to see the elated faces of various runners. Their passion for running and keeping fit inspired me to go for my own fitness goals for this year and beyond.
“Stand Up and Shine” was the theme for the Malaysia Women Marathon 2015 (MWM, one of the highlighted events for Visit Selangor Year 2015). The idea was to go for a pure ladies’ run.
After the past two years experience, the organisers were more assured that women could run the full marathon on their own without male pacers. (However, participants could still write in to request for an exemption.)
Established in 2013, the Malaysia Women Marathon saw as many as 4,000 running in all four categories: MWM 42km Full Marathon, MWM Etiqa Half Marathon, MWM Citi 10km Run and MWM AstroBella 5km Fun Run.
The runners ran along a scenic route of Shah Alam that saw runners pass the Blue Mosque, the Lake Gardens, Stadium Malawati and Istana Bukit Kayangan, and residential areas of Shah Alam. Patrols by race marshals and the police were stepped up this year to ensure security.
Winners of the race won cash and prizes worth RM10,000 in total. Prior to the event, the race director Karen Loh organised talks and workshops to help prepare runners.