Free your­self and run

The YOLO Run (‘you only live once’) en­cour­ages par­tic­i­pants to ‘seize the day’ and free them­selves from la­bels and body stereo­types .

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Outdoors - By WIL­LIAM K.C. KEE star2@thes­ For more de­tails, visit kualalumpur

A POP­U­LAR apho­rism for Mil­len­ni­als these days is “You only live once”.

Like the Latin phrase “carpe diem” (“seize the day”), it im­plies that one should make the most of life, even if that en­tails tak­ing some risks, as there may not be an­other chance to do certain things.

“You only live once” has been popularised in youth cul­ture and even en­cap­su­lated in the acro­nym YOLO. And now, there’s even a run named after it.

On Aug 6, the in­au­gu­ral 2XU YOLO Run KL will take place at Oa­sis Square, Pe­tal­ing Jaya. It is fash­ioned after the YOLO Run first in­tro­duced in Singapore in 2015.

“Our event en­cour­ages par­tic­i­pants to seize the day, not care about what peo­ple think and free them­selves from la­bels, stereo­types, body types and in­hi­bi­tions,” ex­plained Alex Loh, man­ag­ing part­ner of X-Change Repub­lic, the event or­gan­iser.

Ac­cord­ing to Loh, the run’s de­but in Singapore two years ago drew 3,000 par­tic­i­pants and grew to 9,000 the fol­low­ing year.

“This year, the Sin­ga­porean run will be in Oc­to­ber and we’re tar­get­ing 15,000,” said Loh. Based on the run’s suc­cess in the Lion City, the event is ready to go re­gional, with its ex­pan­sion into Malaysia, Thai­land and Hong Kong.

With 5km and 10km cat­e­gory op­tions, it is de­scribed as a fun event where par­tic­i­pants are part of a run that gives back. In Singapore, do­na­tions are made to an adopted ben­e­fi­ciary for ev­ery run­ner who runs shirt­less, in line with its “lib­er­at­ing on­self” theme. Obviously, the shirt­less com­po­nent is not hap­pen­ing in Malaysia.

In­stead, sales of a T-shirt will go to­wards Make-A-Wish Malaysia (MAWM), the run’s adopted ben­e­fi­ciary. Ac­cord­ing to Loh, 50% of the pro­ceeds of the lim­ited-edition event T-shirt will ben­e­fit the foun­da­tion.

Re­sponse to the Malaysian run has been en­cour­ag­ing.

“We are even more thrilled that MAWM has agreed to come on board as our ben­e­fi­ciary. There is very good syn­ergy be­tween both or­gan­i­sa­tions,” en­thused Loh.

“MAWM shares YOLO Run’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of life and be­lieve that chil­dren are our future. By grant­ing a se­ri­ously ill child his heart­felt wish, we give hope, strength and joy to the sick child and fam­ily,” said Irene Tan, CEO of MAWM.

In line with free­ing the par­tic­i­pants’ minds and con­nect­ing their body and soul, the run will end on a high note with a mass out­door yoga ses­sion led by singer and yoga in­struc­tor Atilia Haron.

“Con­cep­tu­ally, the run has man­aged to catch the at­ten­tion of to­day’s youth, by in­cor­po­rat­ing the yoga el­e­ment,” said Loh, 38.

A life­long ath­lete, Loh was a water polo player in school. He was a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher for eight years be­fore he joined the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Along the way, Loh co-founded X-Change Repub­lic, which has a core business of pro­duc­ing T-shirts for run events in Singapore.

Loh de­scribes the YOLO Run as “his baby”, and in­tends to make it a global brand. “We do want to take it to In­done­sia, China and the United States, and we are look­ing for the right part­ners.”

“I dare say we’ve man­aged to cre­ate a prod­uct that peo­ple can re­late to, which is fun at the same time. And the fact that we’ve suc­ceeded in Singapore gives us cred­i­bil­ity.”

Loh’s ad­vice to par­tic­i­pants is to keep an open mind.

“The YOLO Run be­lieves in the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of life. Ev­ery­one only lives each day once, there­fore when one is able to, he should al­ways help those in need, sim­ply be­cause there could never be an­other chance for it.”

— YOLO Run

Par­tic­i­pants at last year’s YOLO Run in Singapore.

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