Roy is one of the most approachable characters in the local running circuit and he is always smiling and having fun with other runners in races. That does not mean he is not a serious runner and he can easily put in a sub-4 FM and sub-2 HM anytime he wants. What is special about this guy is that he is a 2-time stroke survivor, and the 2nd time he was afflicted was less than 12 months ago which left him bedridden. Surprised? He is bound for South Africa for the oldest ultra marathon, the Comrades Ultra in a couple of days time. That’s the attitude and mental strength Roy has that puts a lot of us to shame.
Come back race with Eugene at MR25 Singapore
Pic by Chua MH
1. First up Roy, lets kick this off with you telling us about yourself. What do you do to pay for all those race fees and put food on the table? Maybe also some family background?
Thank you 2ndskin for this opportunity. I am a trained IT security specialist but has since moved on to publication and event management field. This has given me a bit more time to do the things I enjoyed.
With my medical background, life has to be simple now and the focus is on training the body and mind to be healthy. Once you simplify your life, there is really no big deals in this world.
2. Were you active in sports during your younger days? In school or college?
I was pretty much into all kind of sports during schooling days, but only football and martial arts stands out. I had the opportunity to travel outside Malaysia to compete in martial art. However, all that were put aside once my career kicked off and it took me more than 10 years to realize I need to be active again.
3. What made you take up running as a sport?
Having to buy new pants and shirts every few months shocked me to the core. Apart from causing hole in my pocket, the physical change has become unbearable. With a group of friends that has also started casually on sports, it gave me the reason to start loving myself again. Oh yeah, and being in the high risk group with high blood pressure, needless to say any activity that brings my weight down would help.
4. Do you remember the first race you took part in? What was the distance and how did you feel upon crossing the finish line?
11KM Orange Run 2010 starting from the Curve. I think the reason I signed up was because it is free and I heard they served great nasi lemak after the race (Mind you I was still a heavyweight at that time). With the food as the incentive, I slowly crawled to the finishing line and the feeling was just amazing, there is food and drinks everywhere!
Since the first race, I told myself I would sign up at least a race a month to keep myself motivated.
Powered by 2ndskin, Garmin, Skechers and Hammer to 100KM during Twilight Ultra Challenge
Pic by Running Shots by Marcus
5. Guess that felt like a long time ago. How many Ultramarathons and Full Marathons have you accomplished since then?
Well it was really not that long ago, but till date it should be around 16 Full Marathons and 5 Ultra Marathons. It would have been more if I were not bedridden, but that's life, just has to pick up from where you left it.
Most of the races were just to get to know the runners community and see the world but I do get serious in certain races and set my own goal.
6. We know that you have run in various countries. Tell us the “take away experience” from each one.
- Malaysia is always humid and hot, the ugly side of Malaysian are the showcase of races when their convenience are affected. The good side is, runners are friendly and will always be seen helping each others.
- Singapore, much more competitive and sophisticated ($$$) than Malaysian runners but otherwise is the same as running in Malaysia.
- Thailand, a heaven to running, good support , smiles everywhere and they organize race the simple yet efficient way.
- Australia, as an Asian, you will think why we are so much slower than them.... the answer is in their training approach and of course the weather and environment there helps. They can virtually train anytime anywhere whereas we are always worried about our safety here. If you want to run fast, this is one place you can run.
- New Zealand - similar to Australia plus the cold weather always makes it much comfortable to run.
Ice cream during TNF Singapore City Race - balancing racing and having fun in race is an art
Pic by Tan Kim Lai
- Japan - running is their life. Running is Japan is just amazing. Full marathon equal to 42KM of human support along the roads, and they served you everything from sweet, cakes, miso soup to beer and sakae.
I have yet to run in Europe or North/South America so that would be the next goal hopefully.
Stay tuned for more Team 2ndskin updates.
7. You are about to embark on one of the most iconic journeys ever, The Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa. Can you tell us about your preparation for the 87km “uphill” journey and your expectations?
Comrades is one race with a long history (since 1921) and tradition. It is considered one of the most challenging road race in this world, so it is kind of hard to put your expectation into perspective. Before I was bedridden, I would think I will challenge the Bill Rowan medal, which is given to finisher below 9 hours. But as of now, hoping for a 11 hours finishing would be my goal.
My training started in December with a 12 hours ultra trail race in Singapore (MR25) and ever since then I tried to work on the strength on my leg to get it to my previous self. By the time I run the race, I would have clocked 1500km, hopefully 1500 of quality mileage.
8. So, you have done some pretty long runs and races. We also know you are signed up for the 160km in Singapore later this year. What else have you planned for or where do you go from here?
Last year, I was supposed to complete that 160KM but I have to DNS due to medical reason so it is only natural that I am going back to try it out again. In terms of race, I have yet to sign up for anything major, but definitely now with the guidance of team 2ndskin, I would want to see my timing in all major categories improving. And probably going back to do the 'down' run of Comrades next year (assuming I complete this one).
Going strong in Bidor Half Marathon
Pic by Cham LK
9. Have you ever entertained the thought of venturing into multi-sports? Most of your Team 2ndskin teammates are triathletes. Have they ever planted that thought into your head?
These guys look great with their bikes, so obviously the poison is strong, very strong. But then again I still hold on to the antidote - there is still so much I want to achieve as a runner so for now, guess I will keep my focus in running and just ride on my old ugly heavy bike when the team is away racing.
10. We’re nearing the end of this interview, but we would like to pick your thoughts on something a bit more personal. Having been afflicted with stroke not once, but twice, what goes on in your head everytime you go out for a run or race? It must be pretty scary to have that shadow of a doubt always lingering nearby. How do you deal with that?
The thought of a third attack is there, but once we accept life as it is, then it matters not whether there is going to be another attack or not. It is how we focus on living our life and what we can do that matters. I would believe what makes it possible for my speedy recovery is just a simple acceptance of whatever circumstances and have the self belief that you can handle any situation.
11. Before we finish this off, what advice would you offer to a runner who wants to take the next step from running half marathons to doing his/her first Full Marathon?
Set realistic goals and be committed to it. Training is the core of everything so train full heartedly and have micro goals to monitor your progress and continue to improve.
With that, we conclude our interview with Roy and we wish him all the best for Comrades.