The Malaysia Women’s Half-Marathon started at 5:30am to try to beat the heat.

The beauty of running is that you can do it anywhere. I love that no matter where I live or vacation in the world I can always lace up my runners and head out for some exercise and often a bit of an adventure. A different experience and challenge comes with every run.

Running in Sri Lanka, proved to be challenging. The heat and humidity was one thing but there were also other variables. Brushes with stray dogs, avoiding an elephant gone loose,  and  creeps in bushes were all reasons that I more frequently opted for fitness classes at the gym.

Running in Malaysia is relatively common. I was pleasantly surprised to notice locals and expats alike frequenting parks for morning and evening jogs. Racing events, fun runs and even triathlons are frequently organised and unlike the Colombo Marathon – they actually have finish lines!

So what is running in Malaysia like?

Well – it’s hot! The first thing you have to come to terms with as you train for races is just how much the heat and dehydration factor into your times. I recently read that 60% is the average dip in performance by runners who lose 2% of body weight in sweat (Runner’s World , South Africa, March 2016). By the time I’m near the end of a long run, my clothes are wring-out-able and my runners contain pools of sweat creating a squish-squish metronome effect marking my cadence. Gross!

Other than the sweat factor there is also the “random Asian man trying to prove something” factor. This phenomenon happens only when I’m not running with Shaun. It starts by me passing a random guy and then that same guy speeding up to pass me for a few hundred meters. When he slows down and I’m about to pass him again, he is remarkably finished his run and starts into a series of bizarre cool down stretches.

Other obstacles to look out for are crowds posing for the group photos and protruding selfie sticks. It’s amazing how oblivious people can be to their surroundings when there in the midst of an intense photo shoot.This is especially evident when running through KLCC park. I figure I’ve photo bombed hundreds of tourist group shots in front of the Petronas Towers. Once despite his best efforts to weave in and around all the people gathered for wedding pics on the path, Shaun blindsided a guest and lambasted her with a healthy splatter of sweat.

When I opt for the “monkey loop” around a golf course near the school, it’s pig-tailed macaques, monitor lizards and wild boars that you have to look out for. There’s never a dull moment.

With all this running, it’s also fun to enter the occasional race. Recently I participated in the Putrajaya Aquathlon and the Malaysia Women’s Half-Marathon. Both events were remarkably well organised and had epic prize giving ceremonies at the end. There’s nothing like a trophy and a life-sized gift certificate to keep this runner motivated!