WHAT do runners like Tan Wah Sing, Sheela Samivellu and Danny Chang all have in common?
They are all winners in their own right. The three were among scores of participants who braved the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) 2016 full and half-marathon categories, and made new strides of their own.
Tan, nicknamed “Barefoot Sing”, has travelled all over the world to participate in marathons, and this run was his 100th. And he did it all without wearing shoes.
“I planned ahead just so I can make this run my 100th; I wanted it to be in my own country and at the biggest local running event,” he said.
Tan was so psyched to achieve this that he said he did not even feel tired throughout the run.
“I was just so inspired to run,” said the 59-year-old from Kuantan, who ran clad in a custom-made T-shirt and a Hawaiian-themed costume.
“I wanted to look special for this occasion.”
Setting a new national women’s half-marathon record, Sheela Samivellu did the country proud when she came in at 1’24:44 in the Honda Half-Marathon Women’s Open category.
Her time was only slightly over two minutes behind Kenyan competitors, category winner Hannah Wabera Gathingi and first runner-up Tabitha Wambui.
“I feel so proud and happy today, though I found the route to be challenging, especially after 8km.
“But I kept telling myself not to give up, and to push on and finish the race,” said Sheela, who stressed that discipline was the key to her success.
“I’m looking to train harder and cover a lot more distance in my next run, and I’ll definitely study the routes that I’d be running in before the race.”
Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia head of managed investment and product management Danny Chang also made his half-marathon race one with purpose as he ran to raise awareness for HIV.
Among the sea of blue, Chang and about 300 of his colleagues, who participated in different run categories, stood out with a red balloon tied to their hands and a red tutu.
“It was all for good fun, while being able to bring attention to this disease and its consequences,” said Chang.
“But I had to make sure I kept to the side during the run because the balloon kept getting in other runners’ way,” he laughed.
A total of 5,595 runners completed the full marathon in seven hours; 8,160 finished the Honda Half-Marathon in 3.5 hours while 12,804 finished the 10km and 2,400 ran in the 5km as well as 750 children who finished in the Kids Dash categories.
Four-time SCKLM Men’s Open category and overall winner Kennedy Kiproo Lilan from Kenya returned – after last year’s event was cancelled – to bag his sixth title.
However, Lilan was not satisfied with his performance as he was four minutes away from breaking his SCKLM best time of two hours and 14 minutes.
“I’ll definitely be back next year,” he said, determined to break his own record. The Full Marathon Women’s Open category title went to Hirut Beyene Guangul from Ethiopia, who clocked 2’39:02.
Other notable mentions included Full Marathon Malaysian Men’s and Women’s category in which Muhaizar Mohamad and Yuan YuFang came up tops at 2’39:25 and 3’19:04 respectively.
SCKLM project director Rainer Biemans of Dirigo Events Sdn Bhd, said he was heartened by the strong performance displayed by the participants this year.
He also expressed delight that the weather did not disappoint the participants, and noted some differences between this year and previous year’s event.
“We moved the event from October to August, and this time we were fortunate.”
He said Dirigo Events employed a different registration system, giving priority to last year’s registrants on top of a 25% discount.
“We also changed the cut off time for the marathon from six hours to seven,” he said, noting that a lot of logistics were involved to make this shift happen.
Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Mahendra Gursahani said he was glad to witness how iconic the race had become. He said the bank was very proud to remain associated with the event and reach out to the community through the run.
“It is our way of highlighting issues surrounding health and happiness, and encourage the people to make sports a more dominant part of our lifestyle.
“We’re here to promote that as well as support the charities we believe in, for which we garner a great deal of community backing through this event,” said Mahendra.
Under SCKLM’s “Run For A Reason” initiative, RM444,848 was raised for the beneficiaries of Standard Chartered Foundation. These included Hospis Malaysia, Yayasan Sejahtera and IJN Foundation.
Now that this year’s event has concluded, Mahendra said the bank was looking forward to next year.
“We strive to get the number of participants up each year. It is an event that is here to stay,” he concluded.