From ballerina flats to running shoes. Such is the journey for former ballerina Beatrice Au, whose husband motivated her to take up up running 5 years ago. Since then, this mother of five children is a regular finisher on the podiums.

Based in Ipoh, Perak, Beatrice recalls every race moment to be “amazing and incredible and full of tears, accomplishment, and yes, pride”.

“But for me, the moment that hits me in the gut and makes me feel most PROUD to be a runner was the first one, the first time I hit my full marathon distance and Ultra 50km without walking”, added Beatrice.

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Speedy Beatrice at the KL Marathon 2019.

An adventurous person, Beatrice prefers running in the trails as she finds it relaxing and enables her to enjoy the atmosphere around her. In contrast, when she is running on the road, she is usually focused on crossing the finish line. In 2020, Beatrice had planned to run overseas in Gold Coast, Australia but the global pandemic disrupted the plan. While she loves running, she is also passionate about cooking and baking.

In the recent virtual edition of the Kuala Lumpur marathon, Beatrice finished second in her age-group clocking 03:40:34 over the full marathon distance. As an avid runner, Beatrice runs six times a week over long distances, sometimes having 55km for breakfast on the weekends.

ToughASIA chatted with her to share her 3 favourite running routes around Ipoh in Perak.

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The smaller mining towns around Ipoh make for an idyllic weekend run.

1.  Traversing Mining Towns around Ipoh

There are many popular mining towns surrounding Ipoh, and some which are historical and tourist destinations like Kelly’s Castle. The Clear Water Sanctuary was also featured in the movie, King and I many years ago.

If you’re lucky, you might meet Beatrice on this 30km route in the wee hours of the morning. She starts at Bandar Seri Botani in Ipoh and run towards Batu Gajah, Clear Water Sanctuary, Kelly’s Castle, Kampung Kepayang, Simpang Pulai before heading back to Bandar Seri Botani.

This idyllic route is open all day, and there are shops and shelters en route. However, Beatrice recommends runners to bring your own hydration and snacks especially if you start your run early in the morning to avoid traffic.

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The Polo Ground in Ipoh is favourite among local runners.

2. Polo Ground aka Sultan Abdul Aziz Park

Many runners in Ipoh will cite the Sultan Abdul Aziz Park, known as the Polo Ground in town as their favourite running route. Children and their families can also enjoy their bonding time together around the playground and wide grassy area.

One loop around the grounds measures 7km. Beatrice stops for 6 seconds for water on every loop when she runs on her rounds here. This is one of her favourites routes as there is not much traffic and public toilets and shower facilities are also available.

Limestone hills form a majestic backbone around Ipoh city

3. Sunway City Ipoh – Lost World of Tambun

On weekdays, Beatrice often runs solo around the Sunway City Ipoh, going towards the Lost World of Tambun theme park. Running here allows her to bask in awe of the beautiful surroundings with the limestone mountains, and the scenic walking areas which passes by a beautiful lake. She often runs two loops, which measures 8km per loop.

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The running route meanders around a beautiful lake near Sunway City.

4. Kledang Hill

On Sunday evenings, Beatrice dedicates her time hiking with her family at the Kledang Hill which is nestled in the nearby suburb of Menglembu, easily accessible from the city. You can choose to hike or run up to the transmission towers standing at 808 metres above sea level.

The main trail via tarmac measures circa 6km and is recommended for all levels of fitness. There are some huts if you need shelter or a place to rest. Locals often visit in the mornings and evenings choosing to hike or ride their mountain bikes. Races like the Kledang Hill Trail Challenge are also often held here.

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A former graceful ballerina, Beatrice has traded her flats for running shoes.