Age-defying runners prefer to conquer nature

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MIRI: Age is just a number – an adage that clearly defines Miri Ultra Marathon Happy Feet Club (MUMHFC), as its founder and members comprise veteran runners who are 50 years old and above, with only two aged 30 years.

Adventurous, is how they describe themselves, running the usual terrain no longer satisfies their ‘happy feet’ spirit; a lot of times, they chose rather challenging routes that are least taken by other runners.

“Miri Ultra Marathon Happy Feet Club is a non-profit hiking club. We consider ourselves a charity club because we are not only encouraging people to run and challenge their own fitness, our events are absolutely free of charge,” one of the six original members, Choo Chee Ning, told The Borneo Post in an interview recently.

Founded in January last year by their captain, Dickson Ling, Choo revealed that the club was officially registered under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Solidarity.

“We understand that not everyone loves running. But we assure all those who join us, they would have a great time as they are not only enduring the terrains, they are actually moving closer to mother nature,” she said in delight.

Emphasising the word charity, Choo said they wanted to give a positive perception to the public that their club organises free activities for all to participate.

“We do not want to do events where people have to pay, because we strongly feel that these events have become too commercialised. To us, as long as runners are interested to try out, they are welcome to join us anytime.”

Lambir National Park and its summit, the eight waterfalls surrounding it; route into Marudi Town and Tekiwit Waterfall in Se’laan (some five to six hours from Miri) are amongst the exciting routes taken by them, as part of their way to appreciate the magnificent creation nature could offer.

“Lambir Summit is our favourite running path, as we get to discover many different scenes that we rarely see in our daily life. There are many sceneries from the summit including the beautiful waterfall, that mesmerises us and makes us keep returning.”

As for the route into Marudi Town, she added, the potholes and bumpy road failed to dampen their running spirit.

“You see, we don’t just focus on running. It actually opens our eyes, to look at our surrounding. Marudi Town is such a beautiful and quiet village that deserves to have proper drainage system and irrigation to let mountain water have outlets to flow downhill properly. Many times, strong water just simply rush down to the road, causing the potholes and worst, landslides,” she said, adding that they want to create awareness of the local natural environment to participants.

Nearer to home, Choo said the route from Miri to Tusan beach suits their ‘ultra-marathon’ objective – it clearly signifies their thirst for more challenges.

“We had to endure the high tide, and during the time, we saw baby dolphins beached to death twice. There was also a time when I came across four baby turtles washed ashore by the incessant waves, the small creatures scrambling frantically to catch the subsequent waves out to the sea, I had to help scoop them up and wade farther. It was rather a memory that shall not fade in a short period of time,” she said.

Asked on how far she and her bunch of endurance enthusiasts would continue to run, Choo said they are still looking.

“So far, we’ve introduced rare challenges like Endurance Vertical Climb at Kampung Haji Waheed’s 472-step staircase, did a 100km run, beach and road, and even an ultra-run from Tamu Muhibbah (at Miri city centre) into Bintulu Tamu which covered 210 km. We are called insane, but the fact that the satisfaction is to be able to do something different makes life interesting. At least, I have some memories to reminisce at times,” she said.

Of course, she added, all these come with sweat and tears.

Now at the age of 54, Choo said she started her first marathon only about six years ago.

“People tend to worry that running too much could cause strain at the knee, but it does not hurt, though I’ve had my lumbar disks shifted 30 per cent after falling down in Canada Hill. My speed may be reduced, but still manageable, more importantly we must learn to use ‘Dan Tian’ (the point two inches below the navel where one’s qi resides),” she said, referring to ‘chi’ or life force.

When they are not immersed in running, the MUMHFC would organise activities like bringing cheer to old folks at Miri Home for the Aged.

“It is important to remember the old folks, because it also reminds us that one day we will be old and unable to do strenuous physical activities anymore,” she said before concluding the interview.

Source: The Borneo Post

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