By DR P. RAVICHANDRAN
My interest in trekking started when I met Govindasamy, a pharmacist from Tanjung Malim, Perak.
When I went to him to buy my cholesterol medicine, he asked me a simple question, “Why don’t you reduce it with some exercise instead of taking these drugs?”
He then asked me if I was free on Thursdays and invited me to join the Slim River Hash House Harriers (running and trekking) club. This happened in April 2012 and my whole lifestyle started to change.
During my first run, I often felt my heart rebelling, almost jumping out of my chest. I gasped for air, before halting to rest.
But when I saw another hasher – Mr Sundaram, who was 75 then – running rather easily, I was ashamed of my inability to keep up with a person who was 25 years older than me. I then made up my mind not to give up running. Since then, I have been an active member of the Hash club.
These days I even set some of the runs for the hashers in my own Hash club of Lembah Beringin, just south of Tanjung Malim. You can be sure to see me around 6pm in this area going for my normal 5km run.
Once my confidence increased, I started participating frequently in runs further afield.
I’ve been running for the past three years and have done many big Hash runs in Ipoh, Sibu (Sarawak) and in my native India. Recently, my blood test showed a lowered and controlled cholesterol level.
The Teluk Batek run (near Lumut, Perak) was one such event which took almost three hours to complete. Although I was completely exhausted, I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery all through the run. I was so happy when I reached the top of the hill.
I cannot forget one incident during this run, when I spotted a Hash member lying flat on the ground asking for some water. He was so tired and he finished all the water I gave him with his eyes closed.
After few minutes, he opened his eyes and thanked me saying the magic words of Hashers, “On! On!”.
Today, I have started exploring many places in and around the Lembah Beringin area by myself. I also often invite my friends to join me for long runs as some of these estates have lots of wild boars!
We have about 30 members who regularly participate in the weekly runs and each member will host a run at a new venue. Apart from these normal runs, there is also lots of fun in special Hash events, such as family runs and the popular Deepavali run.
Last year we celebrated Malaysia’s Independence Day with a run at Bukit Basut estate, Slim River. The most enthusiastic participants are the orang tua or senior citizens of this club who have been members for over 30 years.
I’ve also spent hours trekking inside the jungles of Taman Negara with students from the institute where I teach. I was so happy when I was able to match the speed of the young students. However, I could not forget the muscle cramps that hit my right leg calf muscles.
I keep exploring new places, such as waterfalls near Kuala Kubu Baru. Given my hectic work pressure, my forays into the wild give me lots of mental relaxation and happiness. When listening to water flowing between the rocks in the jungle, it seems to me like a paradise on Earth.
Hash running and trekking have kept me fit and changed my life.