From salsa to fun run

The writer flies into KK from KL, shak­ing up the dance floor and fin­ish­ing a marathon in pink — all in a span of two days!

New Straits Times - - Jom! -

Shak­ing hands with the Mayor of Kota Kinabalu, Datuk Yeo Kim Hai.

WOULD you fly 2½ hours to Kota Kinabalu just to run 8km? I would if it’s for the Tutu Run. This is be­cause there’s no such run in Penin­su­lar Malaysia. Held on July 9, the unique Tutu Run 2017 was or­gan­ised by The Gym for Life team of the Sabah Gym­nas­tics As­so­ci­a­tion to raise funds for gym­nasts par­tic­i­pat­ing in the third Gym For Life Chal­lenge World held in Nor­way re­cently.

The run was launched in Jan­uary but I only found out about it on­line three months later.

A to­tal of 1,238 par­tic­i­pants had reg­is­tered for the run. The tutu was cho­sen be­cause it has not been used by any other runs. The Tutu Man in action dur­ing the Tutu Run.

Since the run was held a week af­ter Hari Raya, trav­el­ling was rel­a­tively cheaper. Be­sides, I was also in­spired by the Salsa Club that’s lo­cated be­low the back­pack­ers hos­tel that I al­ways stayed in in Kota Kinabalu. So that gives me an­other rea­son to visit Sabah.

Thus, I started salsa lessons mid-May, and af­ter five lessons, I am proud to an­nounce that I have the courage to hit the dance floor al­beit with lim­ited rou­tines. Thank you, salsa teach­ers Sam Sopiee and Poon Yoke Lai for this.

We flew to Kota Kinabalu on a Friday evening. How­ever, our flight was de­layed for an­other two hours and we only ar­rived at the Bor­neo Back­pack­ers around 10.30pm.

Any­way, the sil­ver lin­ing be­hind the dark clouds was Nanie from the lodg­ing telling us that there’s ex­tra food be­cause the English school group who also stayed there or­dered too much.

That saved us a lot of time for we no­ticed that the salsa ac­tiv­ity has al­ready started down­stairs in Biru Biru, the hang­out place for salsa, bachata and ki­zomba afi­ciona­dos in Kota Kinabalu on a Friday.

I have met some Saba­hans through run­ning and now I got to know Saba­hans through danc­ing.

Bryan Pe­ter Soon is not only a salsa en­thu­si­ast but also an or­gan­iser of ul­tra races in Sabah like the TMBT. That night, we danced till past mid­night.


We woke up late on Satur­day and made our way to Likas Sports Com­plex to col­lect our run­ning bibs.

This tech­ni­cal side of the event was han­dled by Valient Events helmed by the three beau­ti­ful An­gus sis­ters — Melinda, Melissa and Mar­jie — whom I got to know through the Bor­neo In­ter­na­tional Marathon (BIM) since 2010.

I also got to meet Mar­jie’s beau­ti­ful twins who were prac­tis­ing their gym­nas­tic rou­tine in the sports com­plex.

That evening, I met up with the Kinabalu Run­ners Club com­mit­tee mem­bers for din­ner.

Kinabalu Run­ning Club is the or­gan-

The Gym For Life Team be­fore their de­par­ture for Nor­way for the 3rd World Chal­lenge. iser of the Bor­neo In­ter­na­tional Marathon (BIM). BIM has or­gan­ised 10 events since 2008 which in­cludes a full marathon. I am proud to say that I have par­tic­i­pated in eight BIMs.

Af­ter din­ner, we headed to Kota Kinabalu’s water­front for an­other night of salsa. We go to know that on Satur­days, salsa dancers gather at Silk Bar.

There is a per­fect mix of songs for salsa and ki­zomba, a new An­golan-in­spired dance that’s hit­ting the shores of Malaysia.


The Tutu Run started at 6am be­cause the sun rises an hour ear­lier com­pare to KL. I was elated to see there were so many run­ners of both gen­der in tutu. We did our group warm-up .

The race was flagged off by Mayor Datuk Yeo Kim Hai, who was also in a tutu. How sport­ing! I even got to shake his hand at the start­ing line.

From the car park of Likas Sports Com­plex, th race headed right to­wards Jalan Tuaran.

From there, we turned left into Jalan Pasir af­ter Kosan. I saw many nice con­do­mini­ums along this road.

At the end of Jalan Pasir, I saw Masjid Ban­daran on my right. This is the land­mark that we al­ways see to­wards the end of the Bor­neo In­ter­na­tional Marathon. So I know that the end is near. There’s also a wa­ter sta­tion at this cor­ner.

From there, we ran along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen. Once we reached Bu­la­tan Is­ti­a­dat, we turned right, head­ing to­wards the sta­dium.

I fin­ished the run in 32 min­utes and my Garmin clocked 6.8km. All fin­ish­ers were given a nice ro­tat­ing fin­isher medal which showed a gym­nast spin­ning the rib­bon.

We spent quite some time at the venue for there were many food trucks. There are also booths sell­ing T-shirts, tu­tus and race ac­ces­sories.

You can even sign up for the Valiant Events’ Wild Run sched­uled on Oct 15. Even bet­ter, you can run with your pet in this event.

The Tutu Run had four cat­e­gories — Men Open , Women Open, School Boys and School Girls. I was on cloud nine when I was

Salsa fun at Silk Bar, Water­front, Kota Kinabalu. cho­sen as one of the Best Dressed run­ners.

I wore a pink body suit with a pink tutu. This bright pink out­fit was meant to shock since no one would ex­pect a guy to be dressed in pink.

We flew home to KL in that evening with a great sense of ac­com­plish­ment. We danced two nights of salsa and par­tic­i­pated in the Tutu Run.

I made some friends through danc­ing, sang with Saba­hans in the karaoke, touched base with the or­gan­is­ers of BIM and got to know the Tutu Run or­gan­is­ing team. All within the span of 48 hours!

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