KUCHING: Having run a distance of 1,600km in 21 days is no small feat for any man and for accomplishing this, veteran endurance runner Steven Ong has certainly earned bragging rights.
The 43-year-old recently completed the challenge as part of a solo charity run campaign.
He started off at the north-western tip of Sarawak in Teluk Melano – known as ‘Mile Zero’ of the Pan Borneo Highway – and proceeded up to Brunei, went past the sultanate before reaching the finish line on the ‘The Tip of Borneo’ in Kudat, Sabah.
The 1,600km crossing was a part of the ‘Trans Borneo 1600 Charity Run’ conducted by Himalaya Salt Sports Candy.
Braving the scorching sun, rain, painful blisters and even an ankle injury, Ong pushed on to fulfil his dream of running across the world’s third largest island.
“It has been a wonderful experience, running from one end of Sarawak to the other end of Sabah and seeing many places off the beaten track, while meeting so many friendly people,” said Ong, who has been running for 30 years.
He pointed out that sometimes during the journey, there would be other runners joining him for a distance, or simply supporters coming to cheer him on.
“This achievement is made possible with brands like Himalaya Salt Sports Candy, which have been actively supporting and believing in empowering people around the world like me to live a healthy lifestyle,” he added.
Serving as a fund-raising platform for charity, Trans Borneo 1600 invited outdoor endurance runners from all around Malaysia to join Ong via a virtual run challenge, where participants would need to achieve the same 1,600km goal throughout the month of September.
“It can be either running or cycling in teams at time and places of their convenience, in adherence to the Covid-19 pandemic control guidelines,” said the organiser.
Having been personally affected by the pandemic that caused him to lose his livelihood in the early stages of the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, Ong wanted to raise funds and channel them to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that offer assistance to those affected by the pandemic.
The charity virtual run drew 914 participants and had raised around RM30,000, which would be donated to four NGOs – Persatuan Porter Gunung Kinabalu Sabah, Mabul Kids Education Society Sabah, Hope Place Kuching and Under One Roof / Mari Makan.
Not a stranger to pushing his body to the limits, Ong has been running competitively all over the world and is the winning titleholder of Malaysia Titi Ultra Marathon 2018 (250km); Asia Trail Master Overall Champion 2017; Thailand Panoramic Ultra Trail 2017 (160km); Spain Al Andalus Ultimate Trail 2017 (230km Multi-Stage Ultra); and France UTMB-TDS 2017 (120km Finisher).
The veteran runner advised: “Following a proper training schedule is the key to success, as regular training will give you the confidence and mental strength to prepare for any competition or event.
“Another key aspect for endurance running would be keeping the body hydrated and replenishing the lost minerals to avoid muscle cramps and other symptoms of dehydration.” — The Borneo Post