A friend who inspires
| LIFE & TIMES BY NEW STRAITS TIMES
Asyraf finishing Ironman Langkawi 2016.
EVERYONE has role models. As a runner, naturally my idols are those who have made their marks in the world of sports, whose life stories have become my source of inspiration. However, over the years, I have come to realise that those who truly motivate me aren’t world champions but regular folks who lead lives parallel to mine.
I’m talking about friends and acquaintances with full-time jobs, who initially took up sports for health or recreational purposes.
At some point in their lives, these activities turned into a lifetime passion or for some, an addiction. Yes, these are the kind of people I can actually relate to.
Muhammad Asyraf Zamzuri, a 30-yearold technical assistant for Indah Water Konsortium, is one of those people.
We met about three years ago at a local triathlon event. Thanks to social media, I was able to follow his first Ironman journey (3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run) back in 2015.
Ever since then, I watched him grew stronger and faster.
Last year, he finished his second Ironman in an impressive time of 13 hours and 39 minutes. The fact that he shaved almost 2 ½ hours from his previous race certainly did not go unnoticed.
Asyraf joined the world of triathlon five years ago. His firstever running event was Mizuno 10km.
Not long after that, he completed his first full marathon at Penang Bridge International Marathon 2012.
Within the same year, he also completed a highly respectable swimming distance of 6.5km in the annual Kapas-Marang Swimathon in Terengganu.
He slowly ventured into cycling and signed up for his first triathlon event in Port Dickson.
After a series of ups and downs, he currently has two Ironman titles under his belt which he earned in two consecutive years, 2015 and 2016, in Langkawi.
Asyraf’s typical week consists of at least 10 hours of training stretched over six days.
Weekday sessions are done either before or after working hours. Weekends are for
Asyraf during group training. long runs and bike rides which are usually done in big groups of triathletes who call themselves as “Butonamo Bersaudaro” and “Chap Ayam Triathletes”.
At the peak of his training, he would run a total of 60km and ride up to 300km in a single week.
“Respect the distance” was his answer when I asked about his biggest lesson thus far.
“There is no shortcut. Long runs and brick sessions are essential in Ironman training.”
As someone with a full time job, I can totally understand how difficult it is to train in such rigorous manner. It takes a great level of determination to commit oneself to such programme.
So where does he get his motivations from?
“I am largely inspired by Amran Abdul Ghani, our country’s Best Ironman. He is a great example that one doesn’t need to be a full-time triathlete to excel in the sport,” he said.
“I am also surrounded by a group of triathletes who always push themselves and
TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2017 On a normal working day. challenge their limits. They encourage me to do the same.”
Asyraf considers himself extremely fortunate to have a supportive wife, parents and siblings who believe in his potentials.
“I am blessed to have a wife who understands my passion and helps me in any way she can. She manages my daily nutrition. Whenever I join races outside of Kuala Lumpur, she is the one who makes the travel and hotel arrangements.”
Knowing that his wife is waiting for him at the finish line in every race is an added morale boost.
“I am also thankful to have Indah Water Konsortium as my sponsor,” he added.
In November, Asyraf will once again swim, bike and run in this year’s edition of Ironman Langkawi. He will be attempting to better his personal record while working on his ongoing quest to be among the country’s top triathletes.
If he maintains the level of dedication that he currently has, I am confident that his performance will keep on improving.
Thank you, Asyraf, for inspiring your peers — maybe not through your words but your actions. I am proud to have exceptional individuals like you within my very own circle of friends, who continuously strive to be the best that they can be.