A self-confessed “interesting yet boring” accountant, Iris Yeoh Ching Ya usually runs with team Speediators for weekend training and Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs.

The Speediator captain has come full circle in the running community by leading marathon races as a pacer over a certain distance. She loves the priceless feeling of crossing the finish line with runners whom she led as a pacer throughout the run, and encouraging them.

The proudest achievement in running would be those runs where I took on pacer duties and led runners to meet their desired completion timings for of the specific races.

Born in Kuala Lumpur but raised in Penang, Iris has also improved herself and is certified as a coach in the RFA GARMIN Sports Certification Program. She was an assistant coach in the Garmin Running Camp in 2020. Iris generously shares her story below on how carrying pacer duties for races gives her the satisfaction of “money can’t buy” experiences.

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ToughASIA: How, when and why did you get involved in running?

Iris: I started my first 10km run in 2010 and had no courage to move up to next further distance category until year 2015. I then promised myself to challenge my virgin half marathon; it was Nike Run 2015.

From then on, with strong determination, I trained myself and promised to do a sub-2:30hrs Half Marathon and I did it!

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running locations?

Iris:Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur for LSD runs. The hilly routes there are very good to train for endurance, and a smooth and constant breathing method for long runs.

Cyberjaya lake for the running path and great views for evening strolls. Not only that, that route is flat so I can plan a variety for my own training routes.

ToughASIA: How often do you run and what distance?

Iris: I do short distance casual running on weekdays and on weekends, I will run for longer distances with friends.

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At the Great Ocean Road Marathon in Australia

ToughASIA: Have you participated in any runs overseas?

Iris: I have done a few overseas runs: Great Ocean Road Marathon, Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon 2019, Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2018 and Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2020.

ToughASIA: What are your thoughts on virtual running races?

Iris: Virtual running races serve as an “alarm” for certain runners to help them keeping track on their running routines. It is good to join virtual runs together with friends and encourage one another to complete a run virtually given the pandemic. I have joined a few big virtual run events such as the KL marathon virtual run and BiiB virtual team runs.

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Iris is a regular face at trail running races too

ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a runner?

Iris: I believe runners carry positive mindsets and strong determination not only on running but also for all aspects of their lives.

We never stop fighting and never lose hope, just make sure we do our part and I certainly look forward to the day where everyone can run with full freedom. I look forward to all marathons that I signed up for 2020 but were either cancelled or postponed due to this pandemic. I particularly look forward to the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon in Malaysia where I was given the official duty as their Full Marathon pacer!

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ToughASIA: Would you like to share any other perspective regarding your journey as a runner?

Iris: As marathoners, we are human after all and will still ‘hit the wall’ during races. Whenever that happens to me, I always remind myself that “nothing that kills you will make you stronger” and we “only need to be stronger than yesterday” .

Races on Pacer duty:

Shah Alam Night Marathon 2017 – 21km – 3:00Hrs Pacer
Hari Sukan Negara 2017 – 10km – Pace 7:00/km
ATM Port Dickson Run 2017 – 21km – 2:45Hrs Pacer
MBSA Ultron Half Marathon 2017 – 21km – 2:30Hrs Pacer
Petaling Jaya Half Marathon 2018 – 21KM – 2:45Hrs Pacer
Shah Alam Half Marathon 2018 – 21km –  2:45 pacer
Petaling Jaya Half Marathon 2019 – 21KM – 2:45Hrs Pacer

Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon 2020 (Postponed due to MCO) – Full Marathon – 6:30Hrs pacer