Another podium finish.
September is a crazy month for runners based in Klang Valley. With so many events being postponed from July due to the haze, there were double or even triple events on the weekends. In all the chaotic reshuffling of race dates, the golden nugget that is Jog For Hope slipped away from the attention of most runners vying for a spot in bigger and more mainstream races.
So what is Jog For Hope? It is a charity run organized by Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas, aimed at raising funds to support POSHE, a home which houses women and kids who are HIV+. Most of the people participating are the students who attend the college, but of course the public is welcome to join.
I was actually encouraged to join this run by my good friend, Dr. Liza. Coincidentally she was also the one who invited me to run in another student-organized race, Rise ‘n Run 2.0.
Jog For Hope was to start off at 7:30am on Sunday, 15th September 2013, at the Taylor’s College campus in Sri Hartamas. But we did not start on time (and I certainly didn’t expect us to) – flag-off was about 10 minutes later. Not too far from the area, another race was happening – the Great Eastern 12km Run. Since I already ran it last year, I felt like I wasn’t missing much, except for maybe friends.
Now Sri Hartamas isn’t exactly the flattest route, and I should know – having done many LSDs here with my Gaited Community friends. Nonetheless I took it in stride and decided to enjoy the run while maintaining my steady race pace. The 3km, 5km and 10km categories were all gunned off at the same time, making for one hectic start! The students went all young blood on me and ran like they were being chased to settle their teh tarik debts at the mamak.
The start line was situated at the bottom of a hill, so that was the very first thing runners had to deal with: going uphill! As I was entering my 2nd kilometre I brushed into Aida (Dr. Liza’s daughter). After a short small talk, we pounded on and we eventually lost each other. It was every woman for herself.
As I eased into piling up the mileage, I noticed something. Lord, this race had a LOT of water stations! One for every 1.5km (so that’s like 6 for a 10km race). If that’s not temptation to over-hydrate I don’t know what is. I chose to skip a few.
The 10km route was dandy in the first half; lots of downhills, but then forces you to dig deep as you U-turn to go back and uphill to the start line. It practically screamed positive split. As I pressed on to complete the last kilometer, I saw a fellow runner walking towards me. I could tell from his race bib that he had just finished the 12km run at GE and was heading back home. “Good job!” he yelled, reminding me to keep running strong. I panted back a “thank you!”, feeling good that a stranger runner would take time to encourage another.
As I tackled the last hill in the course, the finishing line came into view. As I moved closer to it, a volunteer with a walkie talkie shrieks excitedly, “Women’s Open, Women’s Open coming through!” She yells at me to pick up the pace (which totally kicked my adrenaline rush) and to head towards a group of other volunteers who looked like they were going to pounce on me.
Which they did!
One lady whom I suspect was a teacher grabbed my wrist and held on to me like as though I was going to wriggle and escape from her clutches (I was exhausted, where was I going to go, anyway?). Another girl hastily hands me a red card with the number 4 and my finishing time scribbled in pen on it. I’ve never felt so violated yet so celebrated in my life.
The zealous teacher who had her hand around my wrist finally lets her eagle-like grip go. I scurried away like a confused prey, isolating myself into a corner to stretch and cool down. I held the red card in my hand for a good 5 minutes before realizing that oh, I needed to go register myself at the winner’s booth or something. So I left my name with the committee, not before snapping a picture of the red card as remembrance. It’s not often I get to hold one of these.
Finally the prize giving ceremony came along. I had to wait a fair bit but it was worth it. I also got to see Aida go up on stage to claim her 4th position in the 10km Women’s College category! This is the second time I’ve run with Aida in the same event and both times we managed to secure the same placing in our respective categories. Neato!
Finally it was my turn to receive my medal and wow did I feel honored – only top finishers get medals. The ladies who shared the stage with me and got earlier placings were very gracious too and we were all congratulating each other on stage while our photos were being taken by the school editorial board.
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the champion in the 10km Women’s Open was actually the principal of Taylor’s College herself, a Ms. Lauren Wilson! I had actually seen her on the course and I must say she put up quite an admirable fight with those hills. I secretly thought that she might have had home court advantage, she probably runs in the area every day! I couldn’t resist taking a photo with Ms. Wilson together with Aida. I’ll take inspiration anywhere that I can get it!
1. Me on stage with the other winners of the 10KM Women’s Open – 2. Aida and I with Ms. Lauren Wilson – 3. My finisher’s medal.
The most heartwarming occurrence of all at Jog For Hope was when the race committee finally revealed the total amount of money which they managed to collect from race participation. They admitted to only targeting to collect RM10,000 – which they surpassed when they reached RM37,000! The hijabi lady in charge of POSHE went up on stage together with some boys to receive the mock cheque that will help them sustain their living and medical costs for a little while.
That feeling of knowing that you’ve helped others less fortunate – even in the smallest of ways – is the best “medal” anyone can ever earn.
Well done, Taylor’s College SH – I really enjoyed Jog For Hope. Thank you all volunteers, faculty and students for pulling off such a successful and safe run, you guys did a smashing job! I wish you all the success in the world for your future races. Keep it up!
Short video of the prize giving ceremony