Just when you think you're tough enough


Running Trinity : Karen Siah, Father and Husband Tightens Family Bond

Karen Siah (center) won the 13km Women’s race while husband Gary (right) finished 3rd in the 13km Men’s and father (left) finished 7th. (Facebook/Karen Siah Fitness Coach)

‘It runs in the family’ must be a synonymous phrase with Karen Siah’s family as everybody runs!

Over the years, fitness coach Karen has transitioned from running to triathlon as well, stemming from her brother’s influence. Her father, Siah Yang Tit played a big role in encouraging Karen and her two brothers to be active children, strongly believing that it helps them balance out their academic life.

“My dad has always been a sportsman himself since young and when he raised us, he has always encouraged us to be active,” said Karen.

Over the weekends, Karen used to run with her father around the Hartamas or Subang areas, but now their father-daughter time has been reduced to once or twice a month with the addition of her newborn son. After the run, they would catch up over breakfast, chatting about life and continue to build their close relationship.

Karen shares a close bond with her parents through running.

Siah senior has been running for more than ten years to improve his health and de-stress. As an avid runner, the 65-year-old runs two marathons a year and several 10km and 21km races in between.

“When Karen was schooling, she was very active and she liked to run. We brought her for a short race where she did quite well and after that, she got hooked into racing!” – Siah senior shared a little insight about Karen.

Together with his wife, Siah senior runs short distances every alternate day around their neighbourhood. Karen’s mum also ran the 10km race at Gold Coast, Australia while her father qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon by running the marathon. He has also qualified for the 2021 Boston world major race when he completed the 2019 KL Standard Chartered marathon in 3 hours and 51 minutes!

An avid runner, Siah senior (left) has qualified for the world major Boston Marathon in both 2020 and 2021.

In the past, she raced several trail runs with her dad and triathlon races with husband, Gary Fong. With the addition of her son, indeed, Karen is very lucky to have a strong support system in her parents whom willingly babysit when she is away for races.

“She keeps me honest with my running progress and I love it that we both get to workout as part of our dating!” said Gary about having a wife who enjoys running competitively with him.

Running indeed does play a vital role in bringing their family together, as Gary shared that he met Karen when he took running a bit more seriously in 2012. Furthermore, on their first wedding anniversary, they were both were racing the IRONMAN Gurye triathlon in South Korea, where Gary did his very first full IRONMAN distance race and finished way behind Karen.

Sports plays a vital role in their relationship as Gary met his wife, Karen through running!

In 2020, he is planning for some short running races around Klang Valley with Karen, and might consider longer ones when they can both train together. It is a real challenge for them when they both have the same aspiration to compete and train for the same sport.

When the whole family wants to race, they would embark on race-cations (race vacations). Recently, at the Malaysian Mountain Trail Festival (MMTF), Karen, her father and Gary raced together while her mum was the designated babysitter. Indirectly, their race-cations have become their family bonding experience and gastronomical adventure apart from the race itself.

Photos were provided by Karen Siah.