Maulina Binti Bueng is the name you want to know, the Champion for The Malaysia Ultra League Championship (MUL) female category.
Beginning of the year 2019, MUL had celebrated the completion of another year of accomplishment. A new Ultra champion was born! The female MUL champion for the season year 2018, Maulina Binti Bueng from Kuching, Sarawak was crowned with the title Female champion with the new high score record for female category. She had completed a total of 13 ultra marathon races in the season. Adding to that, Maulina completed remarkably on all races! Podium in 12 races including 2 champion titles out of 13.
- Bukit Cinta Ultra 12H – champion
- Tin Mine 12H Challenge – champion
- Route 68 Challenge 168km – 2nd placing
- UIA Ultra 12H – 2nd placing
- UM24 24H – 3rd placing
- Kuching Ultra 100km – 3rd placing
- Titi Ultra 100km – 4th placing
- Fraser Ultra 100km – 4th placing
- Janda Baik Ultra 100km – 2nd placing
- Back 2 Endurance 12H – 4th placing
- UITM Ultra 12H – 4th placing
- Ultimate Direction – The Signature Cross Country Series (UDCC) 83km – 3rd placing
- The Magnificent Merapoh Trail 100km – 19th placing
The Malaysia Ultra League Championship, MUL was set up in year 2017 by Malaysian Ultra Runners Association, MURA. It is a league that converges the ultra running communities of Malaysia. MUL is a platform for Ultra Runners from Malaysia and elsewhere to showcases and encourages their talents, ability, determination and achievements within Malaysia-based ultra running scene. You race – you earn points! Compete with every runner! The system is automatic, when a runner completed a race in MUL, the runner will be automatically in the MUL list.
In its 2nd year- season 2018 (from December 2017 – December 2018), MUL has a total of 30 ultra races in Malaysia, including Road Ultra, Trails and even Time Ultra races –link:
MUL is part of Malaysian Ultra Runners Association (MURA) program. (http://mura.com.my/, https://www.facebook.com/malaysianultrarunnersassociation/)
MUL coming to the 3rd year, 2019, had a tremendous growth in term of number of Ultra races in Malaysia and number of ultra runners. And it is expecting more in the coming years. For the year 2019, the ultra races registered under MUL had exceeded 43 races which meant there is an ultra race almost every week or even a few races in the same weekends. http://mura.com.my/malaysia-races-calendar/
MURA has conducted an exclusive interview in person with the Champion, Maulina Binti Bueng, to understand her story and determination behind her great accomplishment and success.
Upon met up on a Friday afternoon, she just finished a trail run in the morning, had settle the kids, and join us. Later she will continue another training session. Well: “The champ never stop training” that for sure. While most people were wondering spending the Friday relax for a drink, movie or shopping, our champ had never stopped her training, not even a day off! Lets get started with her inspiring story.
Maulina started her love of sports from a very young age; the inspiration from her father, she said, who is also her first training coach. At 9 year old, she had showcased her potential in sports and had been selected representing her school and often won races. During the schooling years, races were 200m, 400m, 1000m track & field.
Thereafter, she frequently took part in local community events in longer distance Jogathon, Cross Country Run (Larian Rentas Desa) and she enjoyed those days. The training from her coach and father’s teaching had brought her further; she was selected for Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA), representing her state at the age of 11 year old for 3 consecutive years. That’s not just in running, as a young sports girl, she also venture into cycling in SUKMA when she was 20 year old. That’s where she built up her base in sports and had been carried forward to her running today.
However, Maulina had stopped her active sports day after she graduated from school until she got married and she became a lively mum of 2 beautiful kids.
A few years back after her 2nd kid was born; Maulina felt that she must start exercise again after years of resting. She need to get back in shape after the second born baby. She then started simple workout and diet. Maulina begun her journey by just doing exercise and jogging at park near her neighbourhood after sending her kids to school, it was like joining some other moms during the free time. Her husband also encouraged her for exercise. She had never knew that the initial idea with just to get back in shape which had brought her so far into an ultra marathon champion today.
Sometime when you least expect it, good things will happen. That’s where her ultra journey began; her daily routine at the park had met up with some good friends, from around the neighbourhood. The start was just to join as company each other at the park had became more than just a morning stroll. Soon, friends encouraged her to take part in running races. As usual, she hesitated at the start, as she had not been running for a very long time. Well: “You know how persuasive those runners can be right?, They always said that it will be an easy run only”.
Interestingly her races did not start as usual runner. Her first race wasn’t a 5km or 10km run and not even a 42.195 km full marathon. Maulina had gone direct to an ultra marathon race! That’s all from just the influence from her park run strolling friends. She still remembered her very first race was Pink Ultra in 2015. Pink Ultra is a time race of 9 hours at Taman Saujana Hijau, Putrajaya. Time race which means, do as many mileage as you can within the time given. However, each runner was also required to complete a minimum 50km or 10 loops following the route to be considered as a finisher. From 7am – 4pm, runners had tried their best to complete the minimum requirement of 50km under the scorching hot sun. it wasn’t an easy run for most as the route at a hilly rolling hills. Maulina had completed the race and to her surprise, while most of the runners had already exhausted, she still felt energetic after she completed 50km and she still can run some more distance if she wanted. She must be the kind of runners that prospect of covering some 42.195km just isn’t enough nor a 50km can satisfy her. Maybe only an ultramarathon will fulfill her itchy feet. After that, she thought maybe she can try more ultra races and that’s where she began her joy for more. Life is simple as we do our best with what we are best with.
She also took part in trail running in Hulu Langat Trail Run in the same year. Trail running is different from road running where runners will go thru jungles, rocks, river crossing and never ending hills, that is harder and challenging.
Well not all races go well as plan; Maulina remarks that her first 100km ultra marathon at TITI Ultra at did not go as planned. Titi Ultra: one of the toughest road ultra marathon in Malaysia. The route will cover though along Malay village of Hulu Langat Bt14, Selangor to Kampung Puom, Negeri Sembilan and back. The hilly route along the way had added the toughness to the race. At the halfway back after around 70km point, she started feeling a mental break, although her legs still can perform, but she said she did not know why she had a mental break down during that time. Maybe after 10 hours on the race, the mind just did not want to continue. In ultra marathon, what’s equally important is the mental preparation then physical itself. That’s her first DNF (did not finished).
From then onwards, she had been very active in races or events, more and more ultra races had been sign-in. she had one or two races every month and sometime it is just 2 weeks in between races.
Route 68 Challenge 2018 -168km was her longest distance so far. That was also the most memorable race for her. Route 68 Challenge was a single stage ultra, which require to complete the course of 168km in cut of time of 32 hours. Maulina managed to complete the race and won 2nd placing for female category. The race started on Saturday morning until noon next day. Maulina mention: “What’s kept me going was, I always thought about my family and husband waiting for me at the finishing line.” she felt extremely thankful for her supportive husband and family.
“Running definitely makes me feeling younger and slimmer”, Maulina told us her biggest reward from returned back her running is she feel fresh and look young. When compare to person with her age, she still feels energetic and juvenile. She said an active sport person could keep her look younger than her age. It has become her daily routine to run every morning after fetching her kids to school and eventually it develops a new habit and being consistent in it.
How often does she trains? “Ah, everyday!”. Yes, Maulina said confidently. Running 7 days a week! That’s her training schedule. On weekdays, she spends 1 hour training after fetching kids to school. Then, Maulina joins Alam Damai Runners (ADR) (link) on every Tuesday for speedwork such as fartlek, intervals, hill training etc. ADR is a community running group and runners are welcome to join the group.
On weekends, she will join her running buddies for LSD (long slow distance). She said whenever her running buddies invite for a run, she will definitely respond and go! That’s how excited she is when she hear a ‘long run’ on weekend. Normally after a race day, she will take rest for 1 day before she resumes her training. She said that her highest running mileage so far had achieved over 400km per month during race peak.
However Maulina also mention she needs to balance between her sports and family, as a mother of two. Her daughter is 11 years old and her son ,4 years old, and being a wife and that’s no easy task, family always come first. Hence she does not have much spare time for other sports, she will go for swimming when she is not running as cross training and good for muscle recovery.
Long distance running can be as much a mental challenge as it is a physical strength and fitness. How does she focus on a race or what was she mantra during a race? “ I just want to finish the race” Maulina said, wherever during a race, she only focus to complete. She said she had never aim of winning a race or any placing, however halfway from the race, she will pursuit harder when she felt still energetic and had chances from better position. The finishing line is her only concentration that came across her mind during the whole ultra journey. Without thinking much of other things will keep her mind focus. “Whenever I’m feeling exhausted, I will slow down and relax my mind but I seldom stop.” she said, and sometime she read the Al-Quran verse to keep her focus too.
Maulina always think of her husband and kids anxiously waiting for at the finishing line, that’s really kept her feet going and motivated in a race. Lastly Maulina had to mention the registration fees is getting more and more expensive for ultra marathon, she does not want to waste money if she couldn’t complete the race. Hence she will try her best to finish the race regardless how tough it was.
“I did suffer from ITB injury (Iliotibial friction syndrome) when I was doing speed training many years ago”, Maulina told us about her running journey was not smooth sailing as well. However, the pain didn’t really stop her from training or running. She will still do some slow or shorter run for her training. At the same time, Maulina will do massage and stretching. She will stop joining races if she suffering from injury, but thankfully she said she had not encounter any major injury so far since she joins ultra marathons.
Maulina said that she wasn’t aware she was leading in MUL until 2nd half of the year. When the interim result published by MURA, her buddies reminded her about the leading position. Therefore, she decided to try her best for more races especially in trail running events in order to gain points in MUL. The result had revealed she outshined in all the races.
Compare to younger runner, she said her advantage is more experience in running. Her training from young had provided her with skillful and strong basic. And most essentially she has full support from her beloved family that motivates her to run even stronger.
For the young /new runner to ultra world, Maulina advises that there is no short cut to any accomplishments. One must have proper training and be mentally prepared if he/she wants join an ultra marathon. And prominently is the passion on ultra running as this will be the motivation to challenge our limit. “Mesti rajin!” (Hardworking) she said, “and train long hours endurance, LSD is important. Train hard, train smart and don’t be lazy. Do seek for more tips and advice from the elite or more experienced runners.”
In future, Maulina said she would venture in trail running compare to road running.
Before concluding, Maulina wants to thank her husband and family for the full support. Without them, she can never concentrate on training and races. Particularly she is grateful for her husband understanding and being so supportive for her.
Also, she credits to her running group Alam Damai Runners (ADR), and running buddies for the love and support throughout her running journey.
Last, we wish Maulina all the best in her future journey and keep running and continue her passion.