Running was not part of Kartini Ahmad Kamal’s life until 2012. However, since then you can spot her as a marathon pacer and on podiums too.

The running stars must have been aligned for the 42-year old administrative & accounts manager. Kartini was fortunate to meet her husband during a running vacation (run-cation) to Indonesia back in 2016, and they got married in 2018.

ToughASIA caught up with the Sandakan-born Kartini, to find out she has been keeping her pace.

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

Kartini: Previously, I was never a sportsperson. I started running back in 2012 when I decided to sign up for a 10km race just to get their merchandise. I attended their running clinics and after 4 weeks, I completed the 10km in 1hr 20mins on race day. I felt that timing wasn’t that bad after all, that I actually can run! And that’s how it all started.

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ToughASIA: How often do you run and what distance?

Kartini: I run about 4 to 5 times in a week; usually 5-10km on weekdays and a 2-hr long run on weekends. I don’t have specific favourite routes but during MCO, I always run around my place or on the treadmill (that’s the last option!). Often, I will go to the Panasonic Sports Complex in Shah Alam for speedwork training.

ToughASIA: How do you feel about your role as a pacer for marathons?

Kartini: It was a dream came true! I feel so honoured to be part of the most anticipated running event in Malaysia at the KL marathon. One of the ways to give back to the running community. I miss everything about it!

ToughASIA: What did you like about your role as a 5-hr marathon distance pacer for the 2019 KL marathon?

Kartini: The best part of being a Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) pacer is seeing the runners that were running with us – partly or throughout the entire course – achieved the goals they planned to do.

It was really satisfying to see them get to the finish line in a timing they did not believe was possible. Being small part of that, for us as pacers, was a real honour and privilege.

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ToughASIA: Can you share how you structure your training program as a pacer?

Kartini: I trained hard for my pacer role during my first year as KLSCM pacer in 2017. Harder than my usual training. I made sure I had enough rest before the event day so I can perform my duty successfully. It was a big responsibility and I did not want to mess up.

ToughASIA: What is your usual routine and warm-up before running?

Kartini: I always start with a 5-10mins warm up and 3-5mins drills. I drink plain water and energy drinks during my sessions.

ToughASIA: Who have you inspired to run, join you in training or improve themselves in running?

Kartini: My family! I was the only one in the family who was crazy about running back in 2012. I remembered I signed up for Borneo International Marathon 2014 and for my 2 sisters too. I forced them to join the 10km category while waiting for me to finish my debut marathon.

And now, most of my family members including my parents, brother-in-laws, niece, nephews exercise regularly and join running events in my hometown.

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ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in running?

Kartini: To be honest, there have been many proud moments. It’s hard to pick one but I would say – 1st Placing at Score Marathon 2019, a certified course. I am proud to complete the race with a Personal Best (PB) timing as Putrajaya has one of the toughest hilly routes and high humidity.

ToughASIA: Have you participated in any virtual races since MCO began?

Kartini: Yes, I signed up few virtual races. 50km, full distance marathon (twice on treadmill!) half-marathon, 10km and 5km races. This is how I keep myself motivated to train and explore more about running since we have no races anytime soon.

I think a virtual run is a good way to keep us motivated and to stay fit and healthy as it more flexible for everyone to join.

ToughASIA: What advice do you have for runners who are hoping to return to live running races this year?

Kartini: We will get there soon. In the meantime, be positive, keep running, motivate each other, stay healthy, learn and explore more about running, enjoy and stay safe.

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There are lots of things that running taught me about life. Do the best that you can do and no matter how prepared you are, disappointments will happen. Like it or not, deal with it.

Be yourself, be patient, be positive, our abilities and someone else’s abilities are not the same.

Even if you fall, even if you cannot finish today, you can and should pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. #dontgiveup

Photos provided by Kartini Ahmad Kamal

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