A friend who in­spires

New Straits Times - - Heal -

| 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.

NO SHORT­CUTS

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.

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