Sala Bai 180km Week 1

Joseph Ryan is pursuing his challenge in support of Sala Baï students! He has few words for you below:

“Inspired by other members of the Touch Sala Bai team, following Sam McGoun’s vastly impressive 1850 run, cycle and swim, as well as Faye and Camille’s equally applaudable 40km walk for Sala Bai, I decided to mark my return to Singapore with a personal challenge of my own: Run 180km to encourage others to sponsor Sala Bai.


For the last year I was in lockdown in Malaysia, spending most of my time in front of a computer screen. To avoid the ‘new normal’ turning me into the literal couch potato I took up a hobby that id been avoiding for decades: running.


My friends often describe me as a fitness fanatic, as I’ve spent countless hours in the gym, or playing different sports, from boxing to badminton to mountain peak hiking, but running I had opted to avoid. My reason was simple, since the age of 21 I have been suffering from arthritis, most notably in my knees. This meant that any intense and continual pressure to the joints would leave me walking like a zombie for the remainder of the day with swollen joints, and often as stiff as a board the following morning. But as lockdown kicked in, and team sports and gymnasiums were ruled out, I decided to attempt to overcome the pain barrier and give running another chance.


The beginning was slow but highly encouraging, with each small step, and each very slow kilometer becoming gradually doable. There was pain and stiffness, but as time passed it was becoming easier and more doable. I had gradually reached 6 km a few times a week and was feeling chuffed with my new hobby.


Coincidentally during lockdown I began a podcast, interviewing different inspirational people from across the world every week. As I approached my 100th episode I became aware of Sam’s challenge, a powerful 1850 km journey, the equivalence of over 8 Ironmen challenges in a remarkably short period of time. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam and was blown away by his selflessness in order to help the students of Sala Bai survive the brutal consequences of the lockdown. I left the chat with Sam truly inspired and decided then and there I wanted to push myself too in a bid to help.


Whilst not capable of reaching Sam’s iconic figure, I decided to opt for a challenge that would push me, and hopefully encourage others to feel impassioned to donate.


To start the challenge I hit the road for with a 10km run after a two week quarantine. Around halfway my knees started to feel tender, but I pushed through, desperate not to quit at the first hurdle. The pain lingered that evening and I found myself limping the next day. Luckily my partner has a foam roller and so I gave it a go, and I was amazed to feel my muscles relax. Every day of the first week began in a similar fashion, stiff legs for the first km, but once warmed up I was away, each day becoming slightly easier, although my pace saw me regularly being overtaken by a number of uncles and aunties. At least I outran the monitor lizards in Botanical Gardens. My biggest learning curve of the first week was how to time my run, having made the fatal error of running at lunchtime one day, I felt like a lost traveler in the dessert.


Week 1 – 70/180km. One third of the way through and no days missed so far!


Joseph Ryan.”

Support Joe’s journey: click here.

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