Highly anticipating the NPE Highway Challenge, and I was feeling very nervous the night before. Though it was only a 10km run, I was down with lymphadenitis – fever, runny nose and sore throat which casually came together at this very important moment. But I decided to take on it as an additional challenge.

The NPE Highway Challenge started at the iconic Sunway Pyramid shopping mall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It was thrilling to know that I would be running on a highway closed off to traffic, traversing some residential and commercial areas around the PJ city.

On race morning, I put on my game face, coupled with my training buddy Garmin Fenix 5 to monitor my heart race and pace, and my favourite PureBoost X running shoes by Adidas. As I arrived, I was ushered into The Pinnacle Sunway carpark which was a little far from the start line but was good for a warm-up. It was rather strange to see that the baggage area was a little small for such a big crowd.

At the start line, the ambience was sombre till the music started blasting closer to flag-off time. Maintaining a positive mental attitude, I ran the first 3km at a higher pace than my usual. The elevation gain was not bad but then, I began to cough unremittingly. Therefore, I found myself slowing down for the next 5km as I could feel the burning sensation in my throat but I refused to stop.

When your body can’t run anymore, run with your heart, I told myself.

In the final 2km, I managed to speed up a little with help from the patchy drizzle on this gloomy morning. The view throughout was much more pleasing than that of the Besraya Challenge with minimal “aroma” emanating from the dumpsites.

As I crossed the finish line jubilantly, I was happy with myself for battling the cough and flu valiantly. I collected my medal and proceeded to the baggage area but to my horror, it was a warzone. At most times, they failed to locate bags requested. The IJM bluebags were stacked on the table unattended. Most runners were screaming, “That, that yes that is my bag!”

There’s also no better feeling than meeting up with your Smart Athletics running club buddies after the run to celebrate and to share experiences.  To top it off, I loved the atmosphere as the street outside mall which was decorated hanging lights, just like Christmas!

All in all, I can’t wait for the next IJM challenge! However, I wish that the next event would allow foreigners to compete and win prizes. Only by having healthy competition could one improve.

I told myself I wanted to be stronger and better than the Isabelle yesterday.

As what my running idol Amer Hamzah Arshad would say, “Training must continue. If it is your bad day and you failed to achieve your training target, be bold to get up and do it again”. So let’s get back to training! Grow through, what you go through.

More about the author

Isabelle Chin is an adventurous soul who is unafraid to take up challenges. She started with zero background in athletics, and has now done an aquathlon, Spartan, Viper and running races. She is determined to improve her performance because she believes the only limit is herself.