Thursday, May 30, 2013


By Frank

Yeap, as the entry title suggest, 86.96KM is the official distance for the Comrades Marathon 2013, the "Up"  run. 

All the trainings, efforts and sacrifices will be acknowledge come this Sunday, 2 June 2013, 5.30am (11.30am Malaysian time). 7 Malaysians myself included will start off on their epic journey running 86.96KM "Up"wards from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

The route profile.

For our eager friends back home who will like to keep track of our progress on race day, I believe all of our Facebook accounts has been enabled with the auto tracker updater. Else,you may visit or for the result updates. Just enter our race number or registered name as shown on the image below. Just do take note that there are only 5 updates throughout the race where the 5 big hills are.

Proudly Malaysians.

Another way to live the experience will be the live streaming over YouTube. Just search for SABC or Comrades Marathon 2013 and you should be able to live stream the entire 12 hour event at the comfort of your couch as we run.

Before signing off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors Saucony, GU Energy, Yurbuds, Drymax, Optic Nerve, LifeStrength and 2ndskin for providing me with gears much needed from preparation to race day.

Let's Be Frank.

And finally but not least, a big THANK to everyone at CARIF and the team behind Be Frank. It has been great to have the support from you all in making my dreams possible in raising cancer awareness in uniting my passion for running and cancer research. And I do hope the general public will understand what myself and CARIF are doing in creating cancer awareness and research. And should you be interested in supporting myself and cancer research, we will be very grateful for any amount of donations from you which can be made at And in that, I thank you in advance.

So there you have it. This will be my final entry on my road to Comrades Marathon 2013. Do wish all 7 of us Malaysians luck as we run probably the greatest road ultra marathon in the world. Till I blog again...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Behind The Runners...

By Frank

It's 10 days to go. Comrades Marathon 2013 beckons for I travel to South Africa today. As the rest of the contingent marches on and slowly make their way into South Africa next week, here's not forgetting some very important people that has played and will play an important role while we run.

The ladies of the Malaysian contingent! Here's a toast to Mei-Ee, Cham and CP's wife (sorry, didn't get her name) for being our support crew in driving us runners between Durban and Pietermartizburg, updating our fellow concern friends back home and taking photos of the entire race environment. Without them, we runners will be given more task to be solve by our own self. However, this isn't the case now and we are glad to have them with us.

So yes, this short little entry is dedicated to the 3 ladies behind the 2013 Comrades Marathon Malaysian contingent. And not forgetting the 4th lady, a 2 months old princess name Xi Ning!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Comrades 2013 Travel Plan...

By Frank

Here I go again. True to my long distance travel habits, I will always opts to post about what has been planned out for the trip and also my packing list. And for the first time, I will be travelling with 2 new luggage bag and a camera backpack after the demise of the infamous "Big Black Bag" at the previous Year To Year circuit race trip. And this being my longest trip away from home for a race trip, it shouldn't be misses out. My third trip to South Africa and my second for the Comrades Marathon, it is one enjoyable trip that I will be hoping for, for there is also a mammoth task to be accomplish there.

Packing list for this time.

As you can see from my packing list above, you will actually notice the usual Old Town White Coffee for Chee Kong. But new to the list this time is a dozen packs of Bak Kut Teh spices for Peter. Talk about Malaysian overboard deprived of local food here! Hahaha...

Leaving for South Africa on 23 May 2013, I will have slight more than a week to acclimatize to the conditions there. Flying on board an Emirates A380 where I will transit at Dubai for close to 7 hours before resuming my flight to Johannesburg. It will be one long wait and hopefully, I will be able to get myself some rest to kill time at Snooze Cube, a rest hotel for passengers on transit. Just hope I don't oversleep though.

The all new "Big Black Bag" and 2 smaller bags.

Upon arrival at Johannesburg, there will be a couple of runs scheduled for me at Pretoria while awaiting the arrival of Roy, Cham and CP in a few days time. And from there, a visit to the Imflonzi National Park is in the list before continuing on to the Comrades House at Pietermaritzburg, and then to Durban for our big race. And it will be at Durban where the rest of the Malaysian contingent like Francis, Fook Seong and Kim Kok will join in.

I myself am not very clear about my plans at Durban now as I believe there will be some meet ups with the Comrades Marathon Association and the rest of the ambassadors. I will readjust my time when I am there. But more importantly is to rest up for the big day will be Sunday, 2 June 2013. All the sacrifices and effort will all be justify on this day.

And after a hard fought battle on the epic route, no matter the outcome, all 8 Malaysian will be already a Comrades runner the next day as we set to depart for home. Some will leave back home to Malaysia, some to Cape Town, while myself will follow Chee Kong and Mei-Ee back to Johannesburg. A send off for Roy and Cham in the evening as they will fly back home to Malaysia.

The next day, it will be an adventure to Krueger National Park once again together with Chee Kong, Mei-Ee and Fook Seong. Will be visiting new camp sites this time and hopefully will have better luck viewing the wildlife this time. Will be there for 3 days 2 nights staying over Satara, Lower Sabie and Letaba before leaving on Friday morning as Fook Seong has a flight to catch at night back home to Malaysia.

As for myself, I have one more day to spend at Johannesburg before finally, on 10 June 2013, I will say farewell to South Africa again where I will depart from Johannesburg  in the noon to Dubai. A close to 4 hours transit there before flying back home on board the Emirates A380 where I will arrive at around 3pm.

Hopefully this trip will be a memorable and successful one where I look forward to meet all my South African and international friends again. And as for Comrades Marathon, my training has been very positive and hopefully, the result will be too. Till 2 June 2013 then, for The Ultimate Human Race awaits.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Look Back in Training...

By Frank

The 2 toughest month of the Comrades Marathon training, March and April 2013 is now behind me as it's just 15 days till race day. Preparation this year was certainly much better compared to the previous and I felt much stronger to tackle the epic race this time. As reality sets in and after completing my last long slow and easy run this morning running a 20KM distance, here's a look back on what I went through since official training started back on 1 January 2013.

The official training program of the Comrades Marathon is always scheduled to be between 1 January till 31 May giving runners about 5 months to train. And the healthy running distance to hit as part of preparation for the race will be a 1,500KM with various drills, which is tough to hit especially coming from the part of the world I am in.

For me, as of posting this entry today, my running mileage now stands at 1,042KM.  It was really a tough challenge due to my job and therefore to hit the 1,000KM distance was my main target with anything more will be a bonus to me. I was relieved and happy that I managed to hit it as it does help a little in mental strength. Talk about placebo effect. However, I am also glad too that besides running the various drills such as long slows distances and time trials, I have put in other training efforts like resistance and strength training to further strengthen myself.

My running data since from Comrades 2012 to Comrades 2013.

Beginning in the month of January, continuing my momentum from the Year to Year 6 days circuit race, it was a good start to the program as I managed a very healthy 217KM. I went back to square one and did the build up to prepare myself for tough months ahead.

Everything was going good till February came. I hurt my left shoulder doing shoulder press and couldn't run comfortably with a swollen scapula. To make matters worst, it was Chinese New Year month and I went back to my home town only to be greeted by rain. Running mileage for this month took a tumble as I only managed 114KM. Sweated a little, but panic I did not.

Rested and managed to let my injured left scapula heal. And I started the month of March where Comrades runners will call it hell March, with a bang teaming up with Roy to participate in the TNF Singapore City Race. A 40KM in the pocket as I continued on with training. And towards the final 2 days of the month, came the 3rd edition of the Twilight Ultra Challenge where runners challenge themselves to running loops in 16 hours at Singapore's East Coast Park. I was to simulate the 87KM but failed to do so as sleepiness took over after 12:28 hours in action. But all in all, it was a good month indeed as 364KM was achieved!

Armageddon April as I call it myself was next. Not as tough as hell March but I've still one long run to put in as plan. Continued with momentum until I was hit my food poisoning 2 weeks into the month. Though no diarrhea  I felt bloated for about a week. I did not train for the whole week but glad that fitness wasn't affected. Into the third week, I managed to put in some short quality runs before another 16 hours run challenge with Devan. This time, on the treadmill. I managed a 55KM in 12:45 hours. That resulted in a very sore body probably due to using the same set of muscles trying to stabilize myself on the treadmill. However, I managed to pull myself up to strength by completing off armageddon April with a very productive half marathon at Bidor. Total distance covered for the month was 218KM.

And into the final month, May. I am now enjoying my tapering month. Runs are still being ran, with intensity reduced. Weekdays are about 5KM to 10KM easy runs while one day on the weekend a bit longer at about 15KM to 20KM. Will keep moving till 22 May as I will be flying off on 23 May 2013. There will be 2 more short easy acclimation  runs scheduled for me at Pretoria once I get to South Africa though and hence will finish off my Comrades Marathon 2013 training with them.

Throughout the first 4 months of training, diet was pretty normal though as I will try to stay away from unhealthy food. However at times, I still reward myself with some "cheat" food like fast food, chips and so on. I believe a reward sometimes is necessary after all the hard work as we would not want to live a dull life. And sometimes, this type of rewards can be exceptionally rewarding. However, in the month of May, my diet has been clean thus far. This is when my body starts to adjust to race conditions and hence, a clean healthy diet is a must. All the reward can come after the race.

The above training may not be perfect but I am confident with it. The running distances does not justify anything if quality is not there. And besides, I have also put in other trainings too which will be beneficial. As after all, the sports of running isn't just about moving those legs. So moving onwards with 5 days till I leave for South Africa, there will still be a few more short active runs locally to keep those legs moving. And upon arrival there, there will be a couple of runs more to get use to the conditions there.

So yeah, it's 15 days to go!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GUuing Up...

By Frank

Since 6 years back when I first started my running career, GU Energy has always been my choice of pre, during and post run nutrition. I've tried numerous other brands but just didn't work out for me. Either it gave me stomach issue or really had no effect on me.

Back then, it was by accidental that I came across the GU Energy brand over at the local GNC store. It wasn't cheap with the regular energy gels going for RM8 per sachet. However, I did not want any potty loo issue during my runs ( it ain't a good feeling) hence I had no other choice but to invest in it.

Years down the road, the GU Energy brand became more widely available with more of their products arriving into our local market. And most importantly, the price was made more reasonable. I quickly fell in love with new flavours especially Chocolate Outrage and Peanut Butter from the regular energy gel series, Pineapple from the Roctane gel series, Orange and Watermelon from the Chomps series and finally the all new Grape and Lemon Lime from the Roctane Brew series.

At last year's Comrades Marathon, I was fueled then by the regular gels, Roctane gels and Chomps. This year, I will again be fueled by the same formula with the addition of the new Roctane Brew. The plan is simple:

GU Roctane Brew 200ml with small sips at 5KM till hitting 10KM To bring in the taurine into my system for the early morning wake up call.

GU Roctane gels beginning from 20KM and 30KM. That will be 2 sachets. The much needed OKG to buffer my lactic acid off before it gets into my system.

GU Energy regular gels. 40KM and 50KM. That will be 2 sachets. Will have a third additional sachet for insurance but I am hoping that I will not need it.

GU Chomps. 1 servings which is 4 chomps candy. To be taken in between from 20KM till 50KM.

Of course, the above is flexible. With the Comrades Marathon race course laid out like a buffet spread, we runners will be treated to a feast. Salty potatoes and Energade works well for me and therefore, will readjust my nutrition plan as per needed during the race itself. Flexibility is key and what I put into my system will be  playing a vital role. Here's a look on what is most likely be served along the route:

Pepsi Cola, Mountain Dew and Mirinda - 38,000 litres
Water - 2,000,000 150ml sachets
Energade - 660,000 150ml sachets
Mega Load - 62,000 units
Energade Sports Jellies - 300kg
Bananas - 600 boxes
Oranges - 784 bags
Mageu Number 1 - 10,000 150ml sachets
Chocolates 1.2 tons
Biscuits - 800kg
Vaseline - 240 tubes
Sunscreen - 300 tubes 500ml
Arnica Ice - 600 tubes 500ml
Loobit - 600 tubes 500ml
Potatoes - 7 tons

GU Energy will definitely be present in my nutrition plan this Comrades Marathon 2013. Since training program started when the year started, I was fueled by it and I know that it works for me. And therefore am glad that GU Energy Labs is part of my adventure again this year. Let's GU up!

Monday, May 13, 2013

4mm Of Strong...

By Frank

After pondering for a while, well actually months, the choice has been made.on the shoe that I will wear for this year's Comrades Marathon. It was a tough choice between the 0mm offset Saucony Virrata and 4mm offset Saucony Kinvara 3. Both were awesome shoe but there can only be one to travel the epic journey from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

As experience shown at last year's edition when I wore a 0mm offset shoe, I excelled on the ascend but suffered on the descend. That gave me a wake up call as the second half of this year's race is going to be a rolling one. And with more time spent on the Kinvara 3, it gave me an extra confidence that this will be the shoe.

And so, the 4mm offset Kinvara 3 has been chosen for the extra stack height of cushioning may help during the second half of the race. This is after all the shoe that I've train in at most of the time. But of course, I've got myself a new pair for this race, one that colour suits the Be Frank campaign too. The Kinvara 3 with some layers to protect my feet, will at least leave me with some sense and feel of assurance. The only change that I made to the Kinvara 3 will be the lace. I installed my very own "Did It Myself" purple elastic lace which I did last year for cancer awareness. The lace may help in relieving certain pressure point on my feet and it will serve as a powerful meaning for me and the rest of the cancer affected people.

Close-up on cancer awareness purple lace on my all new Spring13 Kinvara 3.

My army of Saucony shoes which went through thick and thin with me during the past 5 months of training includes the Hattori, Virrata and of course the Kinvara 3. Yeap, there are all of the natural motion series from Saucony and in addition to the trio, I've just received the Mirage 3 which will be my leisure and perhaps recovery shoe to be used at beautiful South Africa. Measured at 4mm offset too with a little hint of stability and a little more structure to the body, this may be useful for the tired legs.

My army of strong. Saucony's natural motion series for Comrades Marathon 2013.

All shoes mentioned above are part of my sponsorship program with Saucony Malaysia and I sincerely thank them for being part of my journey to and at the Comrades Marathon 2013. Saucony, STRONG@COMRADES!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Be Frank & Help Beat Cancer...

Be Frank is the continuation from 2012's The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research campaign which tells my story as a cancer survivor and my passion of running in uniting sports and cancer research. The below is the press release to this year's campaign being Be Frank.

This is a story of Frank Chong, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed of Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects muscle and connective tissues at the tender age of 12. Today, he has accomplished what was seemingly impossible, he has trained as long distance runner and is now an ultra-marathon runner

This campaign captures the very essence of Frank himself. His dedication to support cancer research by fund raising through his ‘The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research’, his courage in facing up to the cancer which has affected him and his determination to support cancer awareness by speaking up about cancer.

His journey began together with CARIF in year 2012 when he successfully conquered the world’s oldest and probably toughest road ultra marathon running the distance of 89.7KM at the Comrades Marathon 2012, South Africa. This year, together with CARIF once again, Frank will attempt yet again the Comrades Marathon on 2nd June 2013, running the reverse route “Up hill” to complete the finisher’s medal. Like his “Down hill” run last year, he will again dedicate this year’s “Up hill” run of the Comrades Marathon towards cancer.

So, let's Be Frank and Fund Raise for Cancer Research.

Join us in our fund raising efforts for cancer research. You can support Frank's Ultimate Race for Cancer Research by direct donations to Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation or by purchasing the official Be Frank - TURCR t-shirts at RM60.00 each which is made available at Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall and CARIF main laboratory at Outpatient Centre, Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya.

Or you can be like Frank and use your passion and interests to fund raise for cancer research. Be it a cupcake sale in the office or shaving your head to raise funds, we will support you and help you achieve your target. Contact us at for more information.

Thank you and we hope to have your support for this campaign!

About CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation)
CARIF came from a humble beginning. In 1997, Professor Stephen Prime, an eminent oral cancer pathologist and researcher from the University of Bristol approached Tan Sri Tunku Ahmad Yahaya, CEO of Sime Darby Berhad and a Bristol alumni, about the possibility of raising funds to conduct oral cancer research. Oral cancer affects mostly Asians, particularly those in South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and was not receiving attention by the major pharmaceutical industry or by funding agencies in the UK. Tan Sri Tunku in turn roped in Dr Teo Soo Hwang, a Yayasan Sime Darby Scholar who graduated in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. At that time, Dr Teo was doing her post-doctoral research. Over the next 2 years, she worked with Tan Sri Tunku Ahmad and Toh Puan Aishah Ong to raise funds for a new cancer research organisation in Malaysia.

CARIF then
CARIF was incorporated as company limited by guarantee in June 2000 with the support and donation from these key individuals and organisations: Tan Sri Azizan and Tan Sri Hassan Merican (PETRONAS), Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and Mrs Leong Lim Siew Lian (Genting) and Tan Sri Tunku Ahmad Yahaya. Tote Board had also donated RM2 million, while PETRONAS had donated RM1 million and Yayasan Lim donated RM1 million for 4 years.

The CARIF laboratory was established in Sime Darby Medical Centre (then known as Subang Jaya Medical Centre) in Jan 2001. With just a temporary laboratory of 700 sq ft and only 6 scientists, the first months were focussed on establishing collaborations to begin Malaysian cancer research. In August 2002, CARIF moved into a custom-made facility of 2,500 sq ft and the facilities have been provided, rent-free by Sime Darby Medical Centre. CARIF was officially launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in October 2002.

Today, we are a 33-strong all-Malaysian team of researchers consists of: 7 PhD scientists, 14 MSc scientists, 9 graduate scientists and 3 support staff, and our numbers are growing. Many of our staff are training and obtaining Masters and PhD’s in cancer research. CARIF will continue to invest in recruiting, retaining and training the nation’s most talented and highly-skilled scientists in our fight against cancer.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Saucony Grid Virrata...

By Frank

The Saucony Grid Virrata, is Saucony's second introduction to the running market of their of their 0mm heel to toe differential running shoe after the Saucony Hattori.  Categorised as a cushiony day to day minimalist training shoe, the Virrata is built upon the successful DNA of the Kinvara series. Anfter thrashing it out 77KM at Twilight Ultra Challenge, Devan's UNICEF 16 hours treadmill run and recently at Bidor Half Marathon, it's time for a review since it has went over 100KM of running distances!

The Saucony Virrata.

Lateral side of the Saucony Virrata.

Medial side of the Saucony Virrata.

Firstly, the cushioning system is built on the older but still successful Grid technology. For your info, Saucony has now started to move from ProGrid to PowerGrid which left me pondering why not build on top of this 2 instead? With a stack height of 18mm, it provides a balance mix of cushioning yet low profile ground contact. Not that you can feel the ground, but it offers the enough protection for the feet to go the distance with the 24 EVA+ pods pattern on it.

Outsole of the Saucony Virrata.

Closeup on the pods. Notice how deep the flex grooves are.

The 24 EVA+ pods I mentioned above acts like a trampoline to absorb the impact while propelling the next step. And I am happy to say that while the cushioning isn't as plush as the Kinvara 3, the propelling is in fact better. That left my head scratching for a while as the pods are actually exposed EVA rubbers which technically may "drown" and "compress" leaving more effort from the runner to propel. The Kinvara 3 is actually reinforced tougher blown rubber. So I did some homework of mine while reaching out to some other bloggers and found out that it may have been contributed by the 18mm stack height as opposed to the 23mm on the Kinvara 3. Smart way of balancing eh...

18mm of stack height.

While a small area of the forefoot and heel is reinforced with Saucony's XT-900 blown rubber, some may question the durability of this pair of shoe with the exposed EVA pods. In my case where the wear and tear pattern is more on the mid foot and while it may not last as long as the Kinvara 3, do remember the selling price of the Virrata is RM100 more affordable. And I am actually very happy with the wear and tear thus far and pretty confident that it will bring me beyond the 500KM running distance where it will then cost less than RM1.00 per Kilometer.

Beveled heel for a more natural ride.

The upper is made of a synthetic mono mesh which looks pretty similar to the Kinvara 2. However, looks can be deceiving as RunBlogger has reported that it is of another material which is stronger. I have absolutely no problems with breathability nor hot spots and with no FlexFilm like the Kinvara 3, the Virrata looses more of the structural body which allow it to be extremely flexible. Therefore, this gave the Virrata a more sock like feel with the internal mesh to be allowed work sockless. And not forgetting the internal booty where it keeps the tongue in place.

Excellent breathability provided by the mono mesh.

The Saucony Virrata may be another wining formula for Saucony after the Kinvara series. It's one beautiful shoe to wear and other brands may be playing catch up soon if Saucony keeps producing shoes like this.

The Saucony Grid Virrata is available at Running Lab Tropicana City Mall and selected RSH, Studio R and Stadium outlets at a recommended selling price of RM299.00.

The Saucony Virrata reviewed here is a sample pair given as part of a sponsorship program from Saucony Malaysia.