“Running makes a better me!” – according to 38-year old “Speediator” Chris Liew Kok Kee, a bank relationship manager from Temerloh, Pahang. Chris started running in 2010 just be healthy, but running has taken to him experience life by completing many running events, an IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya in 2016, and most importantly, meeting friends through running.

ToughASIA: Why and when was the Speediators running club founded?

Chris: Speediators was officially founded on 22 May 2015. However, the idea of forming was conceived in year 2014.

It was during the Asics Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014 when a group of runners met and soon got closer. The idea came from someone who was afraid that some of us might stop running or start to slack off, hence they started to encourage one another to continue running and joining more running events and activities. Soon, they realised the importance of motivating and supporting one another to move forward.

Our group slogan “Your Running Motivator” is to motivate the runners to never lose their passion in running and keep it burning. We also aim to motivate other runners to challenge, not other people, but themselves.

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ToughASIA: Is membership or registration required for Speediators?

Chris: We do not have fixed membership or official registration for our members. Our intention is to keep our running group open and free as currently we are still at the growing stage.

Most of our active members are friends who joined the team through common friends. We welcome all the runners to join us as we share the same passion in running.

ToughASIA: When does the group train? And additional measures given current COVID-19 conditions?

Chris: Most of our internal training activities are over the weekends or during the public holidays. It is free and open to the public. However, if there are any major running events, we will reschedule our training activities so that our members can prepare themselves for the race.

We will share and post our open events on our Facebook page and Instagram with details. We encourage people to drop comments to indicate participation so that we can anticipate the necessary numbers.

Since RMCO, our group running session has resumed, but we keep our running group headcount in accordance with the SOPs per MKN guidelines. We split the big group into smaller groups and run in batches instead. Each batch is grouped according to the pace and being led by our experienced active members.

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ToughASIA: Does Speediators follow any specific training programs?

Chris: We do not have any specific training program for the moment. Our current offering is mostly Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs which range from 15 to 25 km, and in rare cases up to 30km. Our LSD runs mostly happen on weekends and public holidays depending on the availability of our administrator team and captains.

LSD is ideal for runners of all levels. Runners are grouped according to their comfortable or targeted pace. As safety is always our top priority, we can adjust the distance and pace accordingly as our ultimate intention is to gain endurance to improve the performance with injury-free.

ToughASIA: Does the club organise any annual or signature events?

Chris: There are a few running events that most of our members participate actively such as virtual runs to achieve the highest mileage and relay races.

Meanwhile, we also actively collaborate with other running clubs, i.e. Malaysia Ultra Runners Association (MURA) and Setia Road Runners (SRR) to organise crossover friendship event.

We believe that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Therefore, we do not wish to be a club that focuses only on running. We would like to create a family-like environment for our members. Hence, we do have gatherings during the festive seasons -Chinese New Year, Christmas, and our group anniversaries.

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ToughASIA: Does Speediators help out with any races in terms of supporting the run or volunteering?

Chris: We believe that we should always give more than we take. And as for such, we will always extend our hand if needed. We volunteered for “Just Run 120” in 2017, “ATM Half Marathon” in 2018, and “Zera Run” in 2019. Besides that, we were selected as one of the running groups to be the official pacers for Men’s Health Women’s Health Night Run by AIA Vitality back in 2016. On top of that, some of our members had also been selected as pacers for other running events.

ToughASIA: Do your club members join races together? Which was the most memorable race?

Chris: As there are numerous running events organized in Malaysia, our members may join any that suit their own preferences. Yet, some of us do actively joining overseas races as well.

Within Peninsular Malaysia, we participated from Northern Perlis Marathon, Penang Bridge Marathon, to Southern Malacca Marathon, Johor Marathon; from East Coast of Sultan Mahmud Bridge Marathon to Central region of Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon, Putrajaya Night Run, Twincity Marathon, etc.

As for the Borneo Island, we joined Kuching Marathon, Miri Marathon, Sibu Marathon in Sarawak to Borneo Marathon in Sabah. Outside of Malaysia, we do have members that participated in the events organised in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Phillipines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Russia, Japan, India, Australia and Germany.

We are proud to be Malaysians as we always bring along our country flag and our club flag whenever we run overseas. Through these runs, we get to know one another better and makes us closer. To coin the most memorable race will be difficult as all races are memorable to us.

ToughASIA: Your team has travelled to many countries prior to COVID-19 to participate in races, can you tell us a little bit more on the preparation and the experience? Which race do you think gives the most vivid memory?

Chris: Each marathon event is unique in its own and completing it is not an easy feat, be it locally or overseas, or even for a repeat marathon.

We have members that run under the hot scorching sun with boiling water at the water station, or running under freezing temperatures, or even running against the wind direction. We even hear stories of locals that are so friendly that they stop you in the middle of the road and offer you food, or the time where some of us are fetched to the starting point in a police car because they missed the bus.

One thing we learnt from running overseas is to watch your meals. Your stomach might not get used to the local meals and you do not want to run a marathon with an upset stomach. And make sure we have ample rest and do not walk around too much especially a day before the race as your body might still have jet lag. Even if the time zone is the same, there are other factors that might contribute to your fatigue. Always be open and learn some simple local language terms such as “toilet, water, help, run, marathon” as they might come handy.

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ToughASIA: Post COVID-19, what will be the first race that you look forward to? Locally or internationally?

Chris: Although most of the events were cancelled, postponed, or in an undetermined state, we believe that our members are eager to join once racing resumes. However, we would like to see how the safety measure will be implemented.

Throughout the years, the local running event industry has matured tremendously, and we have seen a lot of good organisers. As a runner, we will continue to support the local running events to our best possible but would like to see the steps taken to ensure the safety of the runners.

ToughASIA: Speediators will take part in a virtual run in August. Can you tell us more?

Chris: It is a team challenge event in which the team will be ranked according to the total mileage of all the team members’ contributions. Hence, every single mile counts. For this year, there is a maximum of 300 members in a team and we have reached the quota already. In return, each of the members that achieved a certain minimum mileage will receive the reward in the form of a customised shirt with the team name on it.

We first joined this virtual run (by the same organizer) back in 2018, it was mainly because it is a team challenge that we thought might foster the spirit of togetherness. Secondly, it matches our motto “Your running motivator” where we will encourage one another to run and move further. Lastly, we joined simply because it is fun and we will have another team t-shirt thereafter.

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After the first virtual run concluded, we received positive feedback from the group. Our team members enjoyed it very much and it became our group’s main discussion for weeks, that they even discussed on how to improve the team performance in the following year. What started off as a one-time event soon turn into our annual event. This year is our third time joining the event; our team slot is completed within 6 days after it is created. This year, we have achieve a new record as we have members from 8 nationalities that join our teams.

This run really push our members to the limits. We saw our members that hit mileage as high as over 700KM. We have members that ran hundreds of loops around a park without getting dizzy or ran hours and hours on the treadmill. We even have members that drive to other members’ houses and run with them just to reach the minimum mileage, which is totally amazing! We even have members that run under the scorching sun to make up the lost mileage because he overslept and missed the morning team run.

We always remind our members of some important rules. First is to never cheat; win fair and square, and lose with pride. Second, is to always prioritise their health. We do not want our members to sustain injury just because they want to achieve the mileage. Third, is to remember the spirit of togetherness. Encourage other members who has not hit the minimum mileage to start running and to encourage those who has already reached the goal to continue running. Last and most importantly, is to enjoy the run.

To find out more about Speediators, please go to their Facebook page.