There are marathon runners and then there are ultramarathon runners, who go beyond the standard marathon running distance of 42km.
Typically, ultraraces begin at 50km and can extend to enormous distances. There is no limit.
From tomorrow until Feb 9,
seasoned ultrarunner Steven Ong will be taking part in the 2019
Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge – a self-supported 298km route that must be completed under 60 hours.
Ong is among the few selected to participate in the Ultra Challenge, which will see 31 participants. He is also the only Malaysian in the race.
Born in Johor Baru and raised in Melaka, 42-year-old Ong started running at the age of 11. He joined his first half marathon in 1992 and first full marathon in 1996.
Although he only started participating in ultramarathons four years ago, Ong has already earned himself the moniker “The Trail Brain” for his remarkable strategies and self-confidence.
He is also the 2017 Asia Trail Master champion, among many other accolades.
“I take ultramarathon as a self challenge. It takes plenty of personal sacrifice and self-discipline to be in this sport and having been a runner from a young age, the progression to ultramarathon just came naturally.
“Besides, it is becoming increasingly popular so I am happy to take part in it and to test my mettle against fellow runners,” said the co-owner of a sports retail outlet in Sunway Velocity Mall in an exclusive interview with StarMetro.
Ong, who is a World Vision Malaysia child sponsor, hopes to leverage on the race in Hong Kong and help the non-governmental recruit 60 child sponsors over the course of 60 days.
World Vision is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children and families to overcome poverty and injustice.
Ong is already a world-renowned elite ultrarunner, having taken part in international races in France, Spain and Thailand besides competing in local events.
He has set course records in many of the races he has participated in and for the race in Hong Kong, he is planning to break his own record by running a distance of 298km in less than 60 hours.
He has been a World Vision child sponsor since 2010, sponsoring five children from Thailand, Cambodia, India, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Through a fundraising campaign “Breaking 60, Run for Children” which he initiated, Ong hopes to find 60 child sponsors to support World Vision’s continuous work in helping needy children and families worldwide.
“It is takes a lot of hard work to prepare for a race like this. I suffered an injury in March last year and it took me until December last year to get back my fitness.
“I have been training full
swing since early January and getting my mind prepped for this challenge as mental training is vital when you are running alone at night.
“Being a self-support race the only thing that the organisers will provide is a GPS device and a map, the rest, like planning the race, deciding where to rest, food, etc. is all on your own,” he explained.
As someone who is passionate about children, Steven will be hoping to find child sponsors to give children the opportunities they need to step out of poverty and achieve their dreams.
“Helping children, especially on education, is very important to me as it can improve their lives and the community that they are part of.
“This is my first fundraising initiative with World Vision and I am positive that it will be successful. I have been speaking with family and friends on my target for this challenge and have received good support so far,” said Steven.
The World Vision Child Sponsor-ship Programme offers individuals and corporations the chance to bring change to the lives of children, their families and communities.
For RM65 per month for children in Asian countries and RM80 per month for children from non-Asian countries, sponsors can give children and their communities access to clean water and sanitation, health and nutrition, their education and livelyhood.
The World Vision Run For A Cause where individuals and corporations will be able to participate will be held on May 5 in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
For further details, call 03 7800 0899 or visit worldvision.com.my