There are people who jog on the casual to get in just enough cardio to balance out that last nasi lemak meal, and then there are runners – those who do it for more than just exercise.  These are the ones waking up in the wee hours of the morning when not a creature has stirred from their beds to hit the roads and cover distances of 10km and more before the sun is even up. A part of them do it for fitness, but a bigger part do it for the adrenaline, the escape and satisfaction it provides at relying on nothing but your own two legs. Little else compares to that gratification from pushing your body to its limit based on sheer willpower, to take on kilometer after kilometer when exhaustion nips at your ankles and pain ngaws at your insides with every breath you take. We speak to 5 runners to decipher their passion for the roads.

Dato’ Setia Aubry Mennesson

Running has always been part of Dato’ Setia Aubry’s life, having practised it as a hobby to improve his endurance in other favourites like tennis, cycling and French kickboxing. His passion for long distance running, however, was sparked when he participated in the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in 2015 as part of a fundraising pledge for Make-A-Wish Malaysia. Raising RM40,000 with a group of friends and a good bout of runner’s high got him hooked. 

“Running is a great cure for stress, emotional strain, even mild depression,” he says. “I find running convenient. You don’t need any elaborate gear, no special playing field or apparatus, no need to juggle the schedules of others. Just a pair of shoes and the inclination to get out the door!”

Currently preparing for the London Marathon taking place end of this month, he intends to register for an average of 2 marathons a year now, preferably somewhere exotic each time so he can kill two birds with one stone and squeeze in some sight-seeing.

“I follow a strict training program, with running lots of kilometres,” he adds. “I run because it’s not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.” 

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James Tee 

Since starting in 2011, James has raced in the biggest cities like Sydney, Tokyo, Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore, just to name a few. It’s hard to believe it, especially looking at his physique now, but he started running as a measure to curb his escalating weight. 

Having conquered many full marathons, he now prefers the more challenging off-road trail running. “I like trail more than road running nowadays because it's more scenic, which means distraction for the mind to help avoid hitting “The Wall". The rough and unpredictable terrain challenges your balance and this pushes your body to another level requiring a  stronger core and change of footwork.” 

Running is much more than just exercise for him.

“I run because it reminds me about life: a person's path will always have its ups and downs, happiness and struggles...thus maintaining a strong perseverance to succeed while helping others along the way is priceless.” 

Manfred Weber 

Manfred has run so many marathons since he started years ago that he had difficulty pinpointing which were some of his favourites when we asked. Off the top of his head, though, he picks the New York Marathon and the Great Wall of China Marathon as some of his most memorable.

“I started many years ago, mainly to stay fit and also lose some pounds,” he shares. “It then developed into a passion and simply became a part of my life.” 

A recent knee operation has temporarily halted his regime but he is eager to get back on track as soon as possible because he is already missing the sense of accomplishment he is granted after each run.

“It naturally keeps you fit and also gives you some "you-time" which I think everyone needs every now and then. I also enjoy setting goals and making them come through, so preparing for a marathon and then finishing it (in hopefully a decent time) gives a real great sense of accomplishment.” 

Azlan Iskandar

National Squash player Azlan Iskandar is no stranger to running as part of his rigorous training. Outdoing himself yet again after ranking as world number 10 in the squash arena, he now has his first 70.3km ironman race under his belt. That’s 70.3km of total running, biking and swimming in one of the toughest sport known to mankind. 

“It was something a good friend of mine started talking about 4 months ago,” he regales. “I have not competed in any triathlons before this and I went straight into the 70.3km iron man race.”

Following that achievement, he has his goals set even higher, now eyeing a full triathlon.

“The biggest benefits are knowing that when you have worked hard enough for something, you achieve your goal,” he tells. “The human body is meant to be pushed to its limits physically and mentally. You need to get out of your comfort zone.”

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Dato' Dr Nick Boden 

Having heard many testimonials of the countless good of running and how addictive it is , Dato' Dr Nick Boden finally decided to try it out a year ago and, sure enough, got unmistakably hooked. 

“I have a great friend and business partner who has run some of the most prestigious races in the world, and he kept signing me up for runs so I really had no choice,” he says. 

Like many runners, he has found great friendships through the sport. “Camaraderie has been a great benefit of running. It’s great getting to know friends in a different environments. It also gets you out into the open and brings a bit more discipline into your life. From a physiological point of view, it releases a lot of stress relieving hormones and gives you a much needed opportunity to relieve stress and clear the mind.”

To those still contemplating to do it or not, he says, “Buy a good pair of shoes, gets some earphones, find a route close to your house and start running, it's good for the soul! I love it!”