Just when you think you're tough enough


Naval Engineer Chan Jun Shen Remains Youngest Local IRONMAN Malaysia Finisher Since 2008

At the Royal Malaysian Navy Base, Lt. Chan Jun Shen keeps his ambitions flying high with impressive academic, sporting and business achievements.

Do you remember what you were doing at age 18? For Chan Jun Shen, at age 18 years 1 month 26 days, he completed his first IRONMAN Malaysia triathlon on Langkawi island in 2008.

To date, the Malaysian Navy Lieutenant has completed a total of 9 IRONMAN Malaysia triathlon races and remains the youngest Malaysian finisher of that race. Hailing from Alor Setar, Kedah, the Navy Air Engineer by profession and a multiple IRONMAN finisher does not stop there. His curiosity in inventions piqued his interest to develop his own chain lube to overcome the unpredictable weather of extreme heat and thunderstorms.

ToughASIA had a chat with the 32-year old high-flyer, Jun Shen whom has notched some notable achievements in his relatively young age.

ToughASIA: How did you get involved in triathlon?

Jun Shen: I started from cross country and represented Royal Military College for water polo. As I can swim and run, I decided to add cycling make things more fun.

Subsequently, I took up triathlon in 2005 at the age of 16. While becoming a triathlete is cool, finishing the IRONMAN distance race is amazing.

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ToughASIA: What inspires you to continue in triathlon since you started?

Jun Shen: Ever since I completed my first IRONMAN race at the age of 18, I got addicted to the feeling of accomplishment. Every IRONMAN finish has a very special memory etched in my heart. All the events were unique, and the intense preparation with teammates made them memorable. Besides, endurance activity allows my daily stress to be relieved.

ToughASIA: How do you continuously improve yourself in triathlon?

Jun Shen: Triathlon is a technical sport. From time to time, there would be new updates on research and development.

I aim for improvement in the triathlon disciplines, transition, nutrition and equipment. Being an engineer, I like to explore any marginal gains I can improve through scientific research.

One of the interesting discovery about chain lubricant is that the lube tends to wash off during the rain. Therefore, I find it annoying when my chain gets noisy and draggy. So, I have formulated my rain resistant chainlube called “Adreno Lab” to suit our challenging weather, which helps in keeping my chain smooth and fast in all weather conditions. The viscosity of the chain lube was formulated for maximum penetration and to prevent rainwater wash off. Some very special additives were added to make it lasts at least 500km of road riding in all weather conditions.

Next is the aero position, my aero position on the bike keeps improving every year to reduce aerodynamic drag because the human body is the major drag in cycling. Recently, I have got the chance to do aero testing with Coach Louis Pang, with the data from the aerometer being used to decide the choice of equipment and a sustainable aero position. This technology is relatively new in Malaysia, getting the chance to experience the benefit of quantifying aerodynamic was a wonderful privilege.

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ToughASIA: How often do you train in swim, bike and run? 

Jun Shen: My training plan is structured by blocks. I normally train at least 4 times a week, heavily investing my time in bike and run because both of the disciplines are the longest compared to the swim.
Favourite training routes are Broga Jantan in Hulu Langat, Selangor and around Beruas in Perak.

ToughASIA: How many IRONMAN finishes have you had? What is your proudest achievement in triathlon?

Jun Shen: I completed my first IRONMAN race as the youngest Malaysian participant at the age of 18 years old 1 month 26 days in 2008. I have completed 9 IRONMAN Malaysia races in Langkawi, so there is only one favourite to choose from!

ToughASIA: Have you raced overseas?

Jun Shen: Yes. My team and I did an Olympic distance race in Thailand in 2018 organised by the Thailand Navy Triathlon. We were presented with a military performance involving their Commandos and Naval Assets before the flag-off; one of the best flag-off I had ever experienced. It was a whole new experience with a strong military influence in the organising committee.

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The Navy team represented at the 2019 Armed Forces Interservice Triathlon Games

ToughASIA: What are the 3 most common challenges in triathlon which people always ask you about? How do you overcome these challenges?

Jun Shen:

  1. Open Water Swimming:
    • As swimming is the first discipline, get a coach to overcome the fear of open water swimming. It is important to have confidence in open water before heavily investing in cycling or
      running gears. After all, failure to finish the swim will stop us from continuing.
  2. Aero position:
    • The aero position is quite a challenging aspect of the bike because triathletes need to hold that position for the longest discipline. It requires a good bike fit and the correct bike geometry to make the rider sustainably fast throughout the course.
  3. Nutrition:
    • The full IRONMAN distance is a long race. Through years of experimenting, I consume my hourly requirement of calorie, electrolytes and fluids. If the race is less than 12 hours, Hammer Nutrition liquid fuel should be fine for me.

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Jun Shen developed his own chain lube to last through rain and storm.

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ToughASIA: Can you describe a day in your life as a Naval Engineer?

Jun Shen: The Navy Air Engineering department has the largest manning compared to the other departments in Naval Aviation to support maintenance work. Our core business includes logistics support, maintenance forecast, human resource, training and competency assessment. It is a huge commitment and teamwork to deliver serviceable aircraft to support operational needs.

My work routine is from 8am to 5pm mainly to support the maintenance side of Naval Aviation, sometimes overtime. However, this routine is subjected to changes whenever more tasks are required. To balance work commitment and sporting goals, I normally train between 7pm to 10pm and try to sleep before 1am every day.

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

Jun Shen: My coach and I have set quarterly goals such as targeted Functional Threshold Power and improving my aero position. My Garmin Connect has my training data that monitors my progress, I check them everyday and review my progress every week. I also set a mini race simulation to keep me on track despite the current event uncertainty. Having short term goals help to excite and motivate me.

Photos provided by Chan Jun Shen.

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From his 1st to his 9th, every IRONMAN finish in Langkawi will be memorable.