Fazlia Hanim Conquered The Mantra Summits Challenge 116
Being a parent is no doubt a busy life. Add a high-flying career into the equation and a love for ultra-trail running, and you have Fazlia Hanim Ab Hamid.
A known figure in the ultra-trail running circle, she has bagged many podium finishes locally and achieved a number of successes in trail races overseas too.
And she had graciously agreed to answer some of our Q&A after her success in finishing the Mantra Summits Challenge 116 (MSC116) in the 116K category, no less.
A tough race with challenging elevation, Fazlia Hanim finished her 116K in 34 hours 21 minutes and 11 seconds. She ranked fifth Women and 29th overall.
Just two weeks before, she bagged first place in the 50K Women Veteran category and second Women overall at King of Kemensah 2019!
First of all, congratulations on your outstanding performance and thank you for spending time to answer our questions.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you Lina for the opportunity to be featured in your blog. I’m Hanim currently living in Putra Heights but originally from Seremban. I’m a mother of four, currently working as an auditor in one of the Telco Company.
Q: MSC116 and King of Kemensah 2019 were just two races under your impressive belt. Can you share with us some of the races that you did and your proudest accomplishments to-date?
I still think my 100miles trail race that I did in Hong Kong (Victoria162) is my proudest accomplishment to-date. My knee was badly injured during the race but I still marched on, continued and finished the race. I had few moments during the race when I wanted to drop out but luckily I didn’t. It was really a mental game at that time.
Q: Have you always been a runner or did you start later? What got you into running, and ultra-trail running?
I was a sprinter during my primary and secondary school then when I was in Form 4, I accidently won Merentas Desa organised by my school. Since then, I became a long distance runner. After finishing university and I started working, I didn’t actively run but I spent more time in the gym working out.
My first race was Energiser Night Race in 2011. That was where it all started. I started with road runs then in 2015 I wanted to do something new so I participated in trail races. In the same year also I did my first ultra-trail in Sungai Lembing (King of Sungai Lembing 50km). No turning back since then, my races are now mostly trail races.
Q: Do you know or remember how many races you have done so far?
I lost track of the number of short distance race and half marathon since I started running in 2011. Hahaha. But I do keep track all my full marathons and ultra-races. Since 2011, I had run 11 full marathons and 24 ultra-races (1 100miles, 8 100kms and 15 (50-84kms) races.
Q: You work fulltime and is also a mom to four lovely kids. How do you manage to balance family-work-training and ultra-running?
It is tough to balance everything at once but a runner got to do what a runner got to do. ☺ I train during lunch time for 45 minutes to 1 hour at my office’s gym - either running on treadmill or do strength exercise, 3 to 4 times a week. Weekday nights and Saturdays will be time with family. I will only go hiking or day-pack trip on Sunday. I am so lucky to have a strong support from my husband and family.
Q: How do you train, especially for tough races such as MSC116?
Elevation and strength training. These are my key training method. About one month prior to MSC116, my knee injury reappeared so I have no choices but did a lot of strength training focusing on the lower body area. I actually had very minimal weekly mileage, so I believe quality training is more important than quantity.
Q: Can you share some of your experiences running in the MSC116?
It was totally a new experience for me running in Indonesia’s mountains. I had Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) while climbing Mount Welirang and Mount Arjuno. I didn’t know it was the AMS until after the race. I also had a pretty bad episode of vomiting, which I was not sure what actually had caused it because I really took care my nutrition during the race.
Anyway for more details of the story, you could read at my Instagram - @hanimeno ☺
Q: During the race, what kept you going when things got really tough?
To me I just want to finish the race no matter what… haha
There was one point during the race at KM85, I was so down and wanted to drop out from the race due to vomiting, but I read all the best wishes messages that my friends sent through WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, and it really lifted my spirit to finish the race.
Q: As a mom, I’m sure you’ve encountered “bawang” comments about “mom’s guilt” for being away from your family for training and running. What’s your take on it?
Yes, a good friend of mine did mentioned to me before that “I have no life” since every weekend I went out for training and running. It snapped me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but then I know my life better, not others. Usually, no matter how tired I am after my training, I always make time for my family, just a simple dinner eating out will always make my kids happy.
Q: For training and in races, how do you manage your fuelling needs? In MSC116 in particular, was there any special fuelling for you?
I have no special fuelling plan during training and races. I will bring kurma (dates), chocolate and baby food during races, apart from eating what are being served at the water stations provided by the organiser.
Q: Apart from fuelling, how about gears? What are your must have/ favourite gears when you go out for ultra-trail running?
A good pair of running shoes and sunnies.
Q: How do you compare MSC116 to other ultra-trail races that you have done in the past, locally and overseas?
“Run Somewhere Extraordinary” the tagline of the race, that’s how I felt to be able to run and finish the race. It was tough as I need to climb 2 mountains (Mount Welirang and Mount Arjuno) and 2 other small mountains (Mahepena and Puthuk Lesung) and the view from the peak was awesome.
Q: To what do you attribute your success in finishing in MSC116? Apart from being a strong runner, physically and mentally, that is.
Team work and support from the rest of Malaysian runners who ran the race.
Q: Do you have any advice for those who wants to try the race next year?
A must do event. If you want to try, train well. Do a lot of elevation and strength training.
Q: Any upcoming race, race goals or aspirations?
My next races will be CULTRA next week and TMMT in August, that I got a free slot to represent Hugs Project. My aim for CULTRA is perhaps to do better timing than last year. Whilst TMMT will be my first time racing it, so I just want to enjoy the race.
Again, congratulations to you not only for MSC 116 but also for other races that you did. You are an inspiration to all of us.
Thank you so much. I’m humbled to be able to inspire people. That’s the least I can do to the running community.
As Hanim mentioned earlier, you can follow her on Instagram for more inspiring stories at @hanimeno.
We wish Hanim all the best in CULTRA and TMMT and also all other future races too.