Picking up something positive from the pandemic experience


PETALING JAYA: For marathon runner, Karen Loh, the pandemic has been a period of discovering opportunities that she may have otherwise never known or ventured into.

The founder of Malaysian Women Marathon, Karen had to contend with the cancellation of her annual race just two days before the event in March last year, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a blow. But she says, she and her team had to think of ways to keep afloat and the work going. How did she do it? Weekly Echo spoke to her recently.

“When we were hit with the first MCO, our racing event was cancelled. This was just two days before the event. The tents had been put up, everything was ready but we had to cancel. It was quite a setback, economically and emotionally,” the marathon runner tells Weekly Echo during a recent Zoom meeting.

“We had to step back a bit and think hard of how to move forward. We were going to lose revenue so we had to come up with ways to regaining it. We eventually decided to organise a virtual run. This did not require running on a track but rather the front gate became the start line and finish line! All those who registered just ran within that perimeter. But we also came with our merchandises including masks. We had to be positive.”

When did this fascination with the business of running start?

A lawyer by profession, Karen said she left the legal practise to have her second child and later on became a stay-home mum to take care of her children. Few years down the road, however, a need to keep check of her weight got her into the running scene. It became a turning point for her. She eventually went on to set up the Malaysia Women Marathon as she became fond of running both for the benefits she got from it and for the sheer fun of it.

“It is one of the best exercises for cardiovascular fitness, and losing weight.”

Eventually, the idea of encouraging more women to take up running and organising a run professionally came in the picture as there were very few women who took up running in Malaysia when Karen first started.

While a physical run is still not possible due to the COVID-19, Karen who is also part of a sports coalition says working papers are already being prepared on how the sports can continue to move once things get a little normal.

Asked on where she would like to travel, when travel becomes possible, she said Penang would be her local destination and that she would also love to take her parents to England where her brother lives.

Karen who received her vaccination along with her family, describes it as the “passport” to travel. One, she is recommending to everyone who wishes to travel.