Friday, August 31, 2012

Comrades Marathon 2013 Registration...

Prepare yourself (and your credit card) for it's the time of the year again, for the following year's edition. The Comrades Marathon 2013 registration will open in just about 1 day's time on 1 September 2012 at about 2PM local Malaysian time.

It will be my second attempt on the Ultimate Human Race and my first on the UP run. Here are some facts about the race and South Africa based on my 2012 experience:

01) 2012 race entry fee for me was RM604.00 (base on exchange rate)

02) UP run is from Durban to Pietermaritzburg covering 89.28KM (based on 2012 DOWN run official distance).

03) Don't be fool by the word UP as it is a mixture of multiple ascends and descends. There are 5 major hills to conquer.

04) My 2012 flight cost at about RM3,7XX on board Singapore Airline flying from Kuala Lumpur with 2 hours transit at Singapore before flying off to Johannesburg.

05) Spend a total about RM9,XXX for a 2 weeks race cum holiday in 2012 covering Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Mosselbay, Cape Alguhas and Cape Town (includes food, lodging, car rental, shopping, visiting and flying locally).

06) Weather is cool to very cold so bring multiple layers. Time zone is 6 hours behind Malaysia and Singapore time. Gardening gloves and the black garbage plastic bag is highly recommended.

So yeah. On 1 September 2012 which is just a matter of a day or maybe even less than that, registration opens for Comrades Marathon 2013. So log yourself into and get yourself registered! And if you do just that, do contact me for a freebie. If you need any info, do get in touch with me and I will try to sort just about anything for you (minus asking me to sponsor of course).

Check out this personalised video by Chee Kong on our adventure at the 
Comrades Marathon 2012...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Official Launch of the Comrades Marathon 2013...

MEDIA RELEASE: Launch of 2013 Comrades Marathon

The official launch of the 2013 Ultimate Human Race echoed it’s awe-inspiring slogan – ‘U are ultraordinary!’ The exciting 88th Comrades Marathon campaign unveiling saw the nation’s top runners, sporting personalities and media converge on Johannesburg for this auspicious occasion on Wednesday, 29 August 2012.

In maintaining the accomplishments of this year’s phenomenal event, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) is all set for another magnificent showdown for next year’s race, come Sunday, 2 June 2013. Being an ‘up-run’, the start gun will fire off outside Durban’s City Hall at 05h30 and go off again 12 hours later at Pietermaritzburg’s Cricket Oval to signal the finish of the 86.9km road-running challenge.

Spring Day on 1 September 2012 brings with it the official opening of entries for the 2013 edition. The entry period closes on 30 November 2012 or as soon as the cap of 18000 entries has been reached. Prospective entrants are encouraged to get their entries in early so as to not be left disappointed.

The CMA has once again catered generously for its South African runners who will be eligible for the ‘early bird’ entry fee of R300 (the same cost as in 2012) if their entry is received by 30 September 2012. The new increased entry fee of R320 will kick in on 1 October 2012 until the entry process is closed. Runners from the Rest of Africa will be charged an entry fee of R500 and the cost to International athletes is $US180.

Other great news for runners is that the Substitution Rule, approved for implementation in 2012 by the CMA, is part and parcel of the 2013 Comrades entry process. This will apply for the month of April 2013 and more details may be found online at 

The entry requirements, which are clearly indicated on the entry form, must be strictly complied with at all times or runners may risk losing their place at the Start.

Runners may enter as follows:
- online via the Comrades Marathon website:;

- at Mr Price Sport, Home and Clothing stores countrywide;

- through the post by posting the completed entry form with proof of payment to the CMA Office in Pietermaritzburg: P.O. Box 100621, Scottsville, 3209;

- Comrades Marathon House: by handing in the completed entry form together with payment at the CMA office in Pietermaritzburg. 

- Please note that the CMA office will be open from 08h00 to 12h00 on the first day of the entry process – Saturday, 1 September 2012.

- Qualifying details must be submitted to the CMA by 6 May 2013.

Over the years, the CMA has prioritized charitable giving via its Amabeadibeadi charities platform. The driving force behind this is the desire to give back to the less fortunate in our country.

The 2012 Comrades Marathon was proof once again that the interest in improving the South African social and environmental landscape is a major priority for Comrades runners, sponsors and supporters in general.

A record amount of nearly R3.2million was generated in 2012 through a range of charitable fundraising initiatives by the CMA, its sponsors and the respective charities as opposed to R1.8million in 2011. Naturally, the CMA intends to build on this people-friendly platform in the run-up to the 2013 race.

Runners and supporters will once again be urged to embrace the spirit of being ultraordinary in the many ways that they know how; and to contribute to Amabeadibeadi and its Race4Charity Drive. After all, being ultraordinary goes hand in hand with what the Comrades Marathon epitomizes in terms of sharing, caring and promoting cooperation and goodwill.

Six worthy charities, namely Community Chest of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, Pink Drive, The Sports Trust, Starfish-Greathearts Foundation, Wildlands Conservation Trust and World Vision South Africa benefit from Amabeadibeadi’s fundraising initiatives.

The charities’ focus are on such issues as community development, care for the aged, health and wellness, AIDS care and support, the environment and sports development; and through the Amabeadibeadi Charity Drive, gain invaluable resources to bring the intended meaningful change to marginalized communities across South Africa.

Further to that, the CMA puts the humanity into The Ultimate Human Race by making the dreams of approximately 800 disadvantaged runners a reality every year. For over a decade, the Underprivileged Runners Programme has provided resources and moral support to these runners who would normally be unable to compete in the world’s biggest and oldest ultra-marathon and relish in the camaraderie and enjoyment associated with it.

CMA Chairman, Peter Proctor says: ‘We are very pleased and excited about our 2013 Comrades campaign. There is no doubt in our minds that every single Comrades runner is ultraordinary and lends a unique feature to South Africa’s most famous road-running race. It is these extra-special attributes of our runners that make The Ultimate Human Race all the more touching and a true people-centred event.’

Proctor adds, ‘The ever-growing accomplishments of Amabeadibeadi are a source of great pride and a huge sense of achievement for us all at the CMA. It is our determination that we utilize the Comrades brand to full measure and make a positive difference to the lives of those in need. We are grateful to our generous runners, sponsors, partners and supporters who contribute to these important endeavours and uphold the esteemed status of the Comrades Marathon. We greatly anticipate another amazing race in 2013!’

It is worth noting that the Comrades Marathon is a Guinness World Record (GWR) holder for having the most finishers in an ultra-marathon, as endorsed by GWR in 2010. The iconic race also enjoys its prestige as the current winner of the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards for ‘Sport Participation Event of the Year’.

For more info, visit the official website of the Comrades Marathon by hitting this link.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thank You Katrina...

Today, 28 August 2012 is both a sad and happy day for me. Katrina, the person whom I have worked closely with regards to my first ever charity fund raising project since December 2011 has worked her last day over at CARIF as it was the end of her contract. I'm sad because it's never easy to part ways with someone who is easy to work with, efficient and also getting along really well. However, I'm happy for her too as I believe she would have found a brighter career path for herself.

Katrina was introduce to me by Peter during Running Lab's official opening back in November 2011. And when the dust settled down from work that time, we together brainstorm on my charity fund raiser which will then turned out successfully under The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research (TURCR) where I ran the Comrades Marathon 2012 in aid to raise funds for cancer research for CARIF.

Katrina has been my liaising person since then till today. For those who joined TURCR Facebook site, beside myself, she was also the admin of the site. She co-handled the site with me while assisting me in other various stuff too from conveying messages, PR, marketing and discussions. She also took time off to see me off to South Africa.

Katrina's farewell lunch at Nando's Subang Parade with fellow CARIFians...

Katrina. I hope and am sure our paths will cross again one day. I THANK you very much for all the effort you put in while we co-work together. It has been a fruitful and memorable journey. Here's wishing you all the best in your career path and also yourself. Till then, do keep in touch. ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cancer Survivor Running For Research...

A while ago, after completing the Comrades Marathon 2012 back in June, I was approached from a couple of newspaper journalist to have an interview done. One of them is Ms. Fiona from The Star which was recommended by Stupe. This interview was about my story; during and after my days of battling cancer and what I am doing now to give back. And so, the interview was done and finally it was published today, 27 August 2012, in The Star 2 segment. The following is the article:

Cancer survivor Frank Chong is on a marathon to raise funds for cancer research.

FRANK Chong was only 12 when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the connective tissues and muscles. Now a familiar face in the local marathon circuit, the 33 year-old has turned the disease that once debilitated him into a catalyst to raise funds for cancer research.

In June, Chong completed a 90km run at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 11 hours 54 minutes, and raised RM14,000 for the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF), a local non-profit organisation for cancer research.
Chong, who is currently the operations manager of Running Lab Malaysia, shares his experience with cancer and his ongoing fight against the disease.
True survivor: in June, Frank Chong completed a 90km run at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa and raised RM14,000 for cancer research.
“I was a few months into Form 1 when I noticed a swelling on my left wrist. I thought it looked bigger than my right wrist and I asked my dad what was wrong,” recalls Chong, over a cup of coffee.
A trip to the family doctor was followed by a series of tests at a hospital. Chong had the lump removed and it was found to be cancerous.
Chong started his chemotherapy treatment in Singapore.
“My ambition was to become a doctor, so I knew some medical terms here and there. The word ‘rhabdomyosarcoma’ was alien to me. I did some research and realised that the treatment would be followed by hair loss and weakening.
“Then I thought: so be it and proceeded with the treatment. One thing about facing cancer is that you need to have a positive mindset and strong willpower. I understood what was going on and it made me more determined to get well,” Chong explains. For the next two years, the young Chong found himself in and out of hospital for his fortnightly chemotherapy sessions.
“I was put in a children’s ward. At 12, I was considered quite an ‘old’ rhabdo patient as it usually affects kids who are five or six years old,” says Chong. “My hair started to fall off after the first treatment and I had to shave it all off.”
The routine went on for six months before he underwent radiotherapy for a month. After that, he was put on a stronger dose of chemotherapy treatment.
“We lived in Johor Baru which is quite near the Causeway. My parents travelled in and out of Singapore to accompany me during my treatment,” says Chong who is the only child in the family. His mother quit her job at a quantity surveying firm to take care of him.
While his school had been supportive, his peers did not understand what he was going through.
“My school allowed me to wear caps and tried to raise funds for me (though his parents declined), but the kids made fun of me because I looked weird and different from everyone else.
“Only my close friends understood what I was going through.”
Eventually, going to school became a challenge for the boy as he felt the full effects of the chemotherapy sessions.
“I was in pain and felt so tired after each treatment that I just wanted to sleep all the time. I missed school a lot and tried to make up for it by studying on my own while I was in the hospital,” he says.
From across the coffee-table, Chong shows us a thin scar on his wrist where the lump had been. “The tumour was about the size of a marble,” he says.
Chong graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, a field he worked in for six years before he decided to pursue a career as a certified personal trainer.
Meanwhile, his passion for health and fitness prompted him to start training for marathons in 2007. “Initially, I did it to raise funds for the Terry Fox Run,” he explains. The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive charity event held around the world in commemoration of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope to raise funds for cancer research. (Fox himself was an athlete who had osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that often starts near the knees.) “Terry Fox is my inspiration to run,” Chong says.
The local marathoner also sold T-shirts to raise funds for the cause. Later, a fellow volunteer introduced him to Carif, the beneficiary of Terry Fox Malaysia. Chong has been lending his support to the organisation in its fight against cancer. In doing so, he became the organisation’s first “community champion” with his campaign, “The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research” at the Comrades Marathon.
On his triumph at the Comrades, the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon race, Chong discloses that he had trained hard for the event. “I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, so I have to wake up really early to run, especially on weekends. Sometimes I wake up at 4am just to run,” says Chong, who is a bachelor.
“The Comrades is a very big event in South Africa, but I took my own sweet time to take in the scenery and I came in third from the bottom,” he recalls with a laugh.
To date, the avid marathoner has completed 11 ultra marathons of between 50km and 100km, as well as three Powerman Duathlon (which usually comprises 10km running, 60km biking and another 10km running).
“Being a cancer survivor serves as a reminder that there’s always someone out there who is suffering,” says Chong.
On his running career, a smiling Chong adds: “I’m not getting any younger, but I hope I’ll be able to do this for as long as I can.”
You can keep up with the marathoner on his
A note of thanks to CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation), Sarah from Priority, Fiona and Stupe for arranging the above interview.
The full article can be seen by hitting this following LINK.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gait Analysis by ASICS...

ASICS Malaysia goes a step further by introducing their world re-known ASICS Lab to Malaysians to analyse our gait pattern, well at least only for 2 days. ASICS Malaysia invited Andy Neo, ASICS Product Specialist all the way from Singapore to conduct the 2 days sessions in conjunction with the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2012 scheduled on 18 November 2012.

Yours truly was invited by Kris Lee, Assistant Brand Manager of ASICS Malaysia to be their humble first person to be analyse. Not that I have not done this before nor that I do not know about it, but it's always good to know or at least to have a 2nd opinion. I was trained by a podiatrist before (though I do not have paper qualification) and my last previous gait analysis done by a professional was done probably 5 years ago. So let's see how much has changed.

And so on a Saturday noon, I drove down to ASICS Concept Store at Pavillion. A rented treadmill was in the store and quickly enough, Andy prepared all the necessary hardware which consist of a rear camera connected to a notebook. I was required to put on specially marked shoes which are basically just basic minimalist neutral shoes. 

Put on these specially marked ASICS shoes and you are ready to go...

On a constant speed of 8.2KM/H, I ran while the camera captured all the necessary from behind. And by 5 minutes, all results were out. And so my gait did not change much. I still pronate a little on my right feet, and probably the difference now is that I strike the ground on mid to fore foot. And bad habits don't change either, I still cross my legs over when I run. My guess is probably due to my bow legged issue.

Off I go...

Kris takes a go at it too...

The view from the notebook (sorry for the blurness)...

So yes, although this is nothing new to me, it is still a good service by ASICS Malaysia and I applaud them for bringing them here although it's only on a tour basis. Many Malaysians thought the simple step and print test (wet test) is an easy way to determine the foot type. Well, basically its inaccurate as those are call static test. What ASICS Malaysia has brought in is called dynamic test which Running Lab also conducts (minus the camera and notebook) is for us to walk and run on the treadmill as our feet pattern does change as we walk or run. It will not be the same as compared to standing still. 

My gait...

So if you are interested to know more about your feet, make yourself down to ASICS Concept Store at Pavillion Kuala Lumpur on 26 August (3.00pm - 5.00pm and 6.00pm - 8.00pm) and 27 August 2012 (10.30am - 1.00pm and 2.30pm - 5.00pm). For a nominal fee of RM120, you will have your gait analyse and ASICS Malaysia will also throw in some complimentary goodies such as a duffel bag, vouchers, socks and lanyard.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Comrades Marathon Malaysia Ambassador...

I was introduced to the Comrades Marathon International Ambassador's program even before I ran the event this year by Chee Kong. But I told him, "Let me complete the race for at least 1 time first before committing to it". And by the time I ran and arrived at the Wall of Honour at Drummond which happens to be the half way point of the race, I was already hooked to the race, its history and its many positive aspect of it. And at that time, I told myself that I will want to introduce this great event to the many Malaysian runners back home.

And by the time I return home after my South Africa trip back in mid June 2012, I immediately dropped Sian Theron an e-mail on my interest in taking up the ambassador role for Malaysia. She assisted me with my application and soon I was introduced to Thami Vilakazi. And after a few exchange of e-mail (and a little Q & A session), I was offered the role which I proudly accepted. It's a special and honourable role for me as its something or rather a running event that I am committed to running for as long as I can. And so yes, we now have an official Comrades Marathon Ambassador for Malaysia, totaling the Comrades Marathon International Ambassador to 20 worldwide now. For those residing in Singapore, you are most welcome to contact me too.

With registration for the Comrades Marathon 2013 (scheduled on 2 June 2013) which happens to be my preferred "Up" run beginning this 1 September 2012, there is no better time for the info pack for Malaysian (and Singaporean) interested runners to arrive.

So if you need any info about Comrades Marathon or even beautiful South Africa, do contact me at the following:

Tel: +6012 395 9598
Info centre: Running Lab - G29, Tropicana City Mall, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

More info about the Comrades Marathon, do visit its official website by hitting the link HERE.

Many thanks to Sian Theron, Thami Vilakazi, Mbali Madondo and the rest at the Comrades Marathon Association for assisting me for this honorable role.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My First Ever Comrades Cert...

By Frank

After 2.5 months, it's finally here! My Comrades Marathon 2012 official finisher's certificate has been delivered safely and in one great condition to me. Packed nicely with a cardboard as a reinforcement, it arrived with no crush sides nor being folded.

True to the Comrades Marathon, the size of the certificate like the finisher's medal is actually pretty small compared to my others. Just slightly bigger than a quarter of an A4 size paper, it is actually printed on just a piece slightly thicker than usual paper. Flimsy it is, but it has its class on its own. I like the simplicity of it and it really shows the achievement one can own. This will definitely be frame up for sure!

The certificate was delayed due to the doping issue of this year's champion (sad case indeed) but the organiser's actually e-mailed to update on its progress. GOOD JOB! There were some investigation being done and the final result will affect our finishing position. Therefore after a long wait, I finally have my official finishing time of 11:53:49 coming in at position 11466. 

Registration for Comrades Marathon 2013 will commence this 1 September 2012. For those interested, get ready and you may contact me should you need any idea about the run itself or even beautiful and colourful South Africa. I myself together with Chee Kong and Fook Seong who ran this year's edition and also new comer Roy have already booked our accommodation for our next year's run. My training has started and for my next adventure there, I will hopefully be able to follow the training methods posted by Comrades Marathon. You can check them out by hitting this link.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Without Today, There Is No Tomorrow...

By Frank

Running, a sports that is simple, fun and healthy. We all enjoy it. Put on a pair of running shoes (or even go barefoot) and you are all ready to go. It's also an easy sport to burn those calories away and also one to de-stress after a hard day's work.

The above sounds really great, isn't it. However, running has also its risk shall we not be careful ourselves. Although fatality rates from running is very low, it still does happen. We all must learn to listen to our own body (yes I know many of us has mentioned this, but I have to mention it here again). When a certain joint or muscle is aching or even the from the slightest cough, our body is trying to tell us something, no matter how serious it is.

It is true that our weaker side will define our stronger side. My darkest days of suffering and fighting cancer defined who I am today. However, we must fight our weaker side today before thinking of our tomorrow. Without today, there is no tomorrow.

The marathon at 42.195KM is a long journey to tackle and training for it is no easy task. Double the insanity, we have the 84KM followed by the 100KM and the 100 milers. Running distance just never ends and we all seek to outdo ourselves. However, please remember that we are not professional runners. We do not run for fame or for podium finishes. It's just not our bread and butter. We run because its simple and fun. We run because its a sport where we make lots of friends. We run because it keeps us healthy. We run to keep stress at bay. We run because our body naturally releases endorphin. There is just so many positive benefits to it, if we think twice of the risk involve. Manage the risk well, and running will be positive.

My sudden outburst of this entry is because of a very GOOD friend of mine. I hope you are reading this else I will scream it to you via the Vuvuzela! Craze Ultra on 22 September 2012 at 161KM is certainly a distance for the insane. Even myself has not run that distance. Yes, we both signed up and we are both crazy. But watch that body of yours. It's just not worth it to put so much stress and pressure on it and your own mentally self. Starting the race is one thing, surviving it is another. But shall we are not able to finish it, so be it. There is always another running event somewhere and sometime in the future. Just make sure we all pull through each day, and we will start together at the Ultimate Human Race next year. That's our ultimate aim, isn't it?

Cancer, cardiac arrest, stroke, asthma or even the slightest flu, all these are a disease, a sickness that we all must be careful with. Some of us wants to show the world that even those with some disability can do the norm, but please think twice. Is it worth it, especially when it involves your own life? Remember, there is always another day, another running event, another chance. But there is no chance for another life. Think again...

Friday, August 03, 2012

Giving Back For A Better Tomorrow...

By Frank

I work in the retail line and most of you know I'm a survivor from a cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma that affected my left wrist. Although there is a cure for it, there are still many other types of cancer out there that cure is still yet to be found. Even though if there is a cure, there is always a chance to actually improve the procedure or treatment method so there will be less suffering or pain involved.

My first ever fund raising cause which is a joint effort between myself and CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation) under The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research, was a successful one and we managed to actually raise about RM14,000 with almost no marketing involved and also minimal expenses. This is something which we all are proud of and we thank everyone who has played a part in this.

However, though the joint project is a successful one, the road is still a long and bumpy one ahead. Research for a cancer cure will take up to years and money is always the problem. Being a non-profit organisation, it is tough for CARIF to actually fund their daily research work and therefore has been seeking donations from various sources.

The past few days ago, I've informed CARIF that I will be one of their regular donors, donating part of my monthly salary to them each month. It may not be a huge amount, but till the day I can't even feed myself any more, I do hope my this amount will be able to play a part in seeking a cure. Like running, a single step brings you closer to the finish line, and in this case, I do hope it will be the same too in the research field. Like Tun Dr. Mahathir mentioned during CARIF's 10th Anniversary Dinner, even if you do not have RM1million, RM999,999.00 will also do. We all broke in laughter at that time, but what he actually meant was, just try to do what we all can.

Tun Dr. Mahathir also mentioned that it is always scary to try new things as most of the time, it ends up as a failure. But if we do not try, we forever will not know. Throughout our lives, there will always be risk. It is how we manage them and if we do it properly, the light at the end of the tunnel will definitely shine brighter.

I am doing my part and I do hope with this entry, I am able to touch my readers to actually do theirs too. It may even be just be RM1.00, but it is sincerity that I will appreciate most. If you will like to donate any single sum, you may contact me or even just contact CARIF directly. I've included a donation form here which you can actually refer to should you be interested to be a donor.