Maze Challenge Asia — History Made!

While the Maze Challenge Asia wasn’t a running race, it was still a timed event with the person who finished it fastest as the winner. So I still found myself feeling pretty competitive on race day, aiming to get through that maze the quickest I could go. But I was also determined to enjoy myself and not make this trip all about the race.

Maze Challenge Asia
We conquered the Maze Challenge Asia!

Jinoe Gavan of and I left Manila yesterday around 7:30am on our Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur. It’s a three-and-a-half hour flight
Continue reading “Maze Challenge Asia — History Made!”

Give yurbuds This Christmas Season

I just completed another indoor bike trainer workout and realized I’ve been using yurbuds earphones for the past three years for all my training needs. From just the Ironman-branded yurbuds back in 2012, the offerings available in the Philippines have expanded to include options for whatever kind of active lifestyle you lead. Yurbuds, the #1 sport earphone in the US, is now part of the Harman-JBL Group and will introduce new product lines under the yurbuds-JBL brand early next year.

My yurbuds earphones of choice lately has been the Inspire Limited Edition Wireless, which comes with a lifetime warranty. Not only do they come in handy when I’m running on a treadmill and don’t want to snag a stray cord and send my phone flying, but they also allow me to control my playlist and to take calls with a wind-blocking mic for call clarity.

yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition Wireless

I also have a yurbuds Inspire Pro for Women, which comes in super cute colors and is designed to fit inside a woman’s smaller ear canal. The Inspire Vivid line is their regular-sized offering available in six different colors.

yurbuds Inspire Pro for Women yurbuds Inspire Vivid

I’ve actually been eyeing the Venture line for my next pair. It’s got a Quik-Clik magnet on the backside of both buds so you can clip them together behind your neck when not in use. No more fumbling for earphones!

yurbuds Venture

The only thing that would be better than buying myself yurbuds for Christmas would be receiving them from a loved one, and I think other sporty active people like me would agree. Listening to music plays such an integral role in motivating us to work harder, or to help us wind down after a long day. Couple that with a great earphone like yurbuds and we are in heaven!

Give the gift of yurbuds this Christmas. Yurbuds earphones are available at PowerMac Center, Planet Sports, Runnr, Digital Walker, Chris Sports, and R.O.X. stores.

I’m Going to The Maze Challenge Asia!

There are only so many weekends in a year, and it just so happens this weekend seems to be preferred by a bunch of sporty events. There’s the International Premier Tennis League (Maria Sharapova! Andy Murray! TENNIS OMG), tickets for which I was ready to sell a body part for until I remembered I had signed up for the Bataan International Triathlon also happening this weekend. And then there’s also The Maze Challenge Asia.

The Maze Challenge Asia
The Maze Challenge Asia in Sepang, Malaysia on November 29-30

I really wanted to be fitter for Bataan, but a series of illnesses hit me since I got back into training. When Nuffnang offered me the opportunity to travel and do something different, I saw it as a sign.

Nuffnang is the official online partner for The Maze Challenge Asia and is sending two bloggers from Thailand, two from Singapore, one from Australia, and two from the Philippines to experience this unique event. My partner from the Philippines is none other than my good friend Jinoe Gavan from TAKBO.PH!

We hope our running fitness and street smarts can help us navigate the 7,700-square meter maze with all its military-styled obstacles. The goal is to tackle the obstacles and also the giant maze in the fastest time possible.

The Maze Challenge Asia is set to be the first of its kind in the world, and expects about 4,000 participants during its two-day run. It has been certified as the largest maze formation in Malaysia by the Malaysia Book of Records. Pretty cool to be part of history!

Sepang International Circuit, which is the temporary site of the maze, is home to the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix as well as other car and motorcycle races. It’s also quite close to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (I land at Terminal 2) and our host hotel the Concorde Inn KLIA is just 12 minutes away. The city central of Kuala Lumpur is also just a short taxi ride away, so I’m hoping after the race to get away to see some friends I met at T*** Supercamp.

I can’t wait!

Podcast #5: Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack

This special edition of Kikay Runner on the Go features an exclusive interview with professional triathletes Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack, who are in town to compete at the inaugural Bataan Triathlon.

As Bi3 looms ever nearer, it’s really time to get your head in the game. If it’s your first time to participate in a triathlon, or your first time on those infamous hills of Bataan, Ben and Jacqui have some great tips for how to stay safe on the technical descents and enjoy this race.

Also available on iTunes.

Pardon the audio quality of the interview proper; I messed up the microphone settings. I tried my best to run it through some filters so you can still hear what Jacqui and Ben have to say.

Podcast interview
Thanks to Sabak for the interview space and the coffee!

Show Notes

  • What they’ve been up to the past few months
  • Why they love to come to the Philippines to race
  • Where they’ve gone and what they’ve done in Manila
  • Why they’ve come to race the Bataan Triathlon
  • Tips for handling the technical bike course in Bataan
  • Tips for first-time triathletes

About Ben Allen

Ben Allen is a world-class Professional Triathlete with over a decade of racing experience. He specialises in the non-drafting format from 70.3 Ironman, Long Distance and the Xterra World Off-Road Triathlon Tour. Ben is based in Wollongong, Australia and from April through to October he joins the World’s Elite Endurance Athletes in Europe, basing himself in France. His official website is

Ben would like to thank: ON Running, Giant Bicycles, XTERRA Wetsuits, Flight Centre Active Travel, Sponser Sports Nutrition, Champion Systems, Lurbel Precision Garments, Ryders Eyewear, Alaska Milk, Greeper Laces, Ekoi, Schnell Carbon Wheels

About Jacqui Slack

Jacqui Slack is a full time professional elite athlete, training and competing against the best triathletes around the world. She has raced the British Triathlon Super Series, French Grand Prix, ITU European & World Cups, ITU World Series events, and is now focused on the Xterra World Tour. Her official website is

Jacqui would like to thank: ON Running, Giant Bicycles – Liv, XTERRA Wetsuits, Amanzi Swimwear, Flight Centre Active Travel, Powerbar, Champion Systems, Lurbel Precision Garments, Ryders Eyewear, Alaska Milk, Athlete Matters Sports Physiotherapists, Schwalbe, Scicon Technical Bags

Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack
Ben & Jacqui

Activewear from Fashion Brands

I haven’t been shopping in a long while, but last weekend while doing some Christmas shopping I stumbled upon some fashion brands that have come out with some great-looking activewear. In a previous post I mentioned that athletic wear was featured in this year’s New York Fashion Week, and it’s great to see that trickle down into some of the international brands that are present here in the Philippines.

For the last few years Forever 21’s activewear section is one of my go-to’s for yoga and dance wear. Many of these are multi-purpose activewear separates, so you can use them for almost every sport or workout.

not shown: a whole rack in pink

Old Navy is more known for its denims and comfy casual wear, so I was surprised when I found some great activewear. They also have some promos happening, such as price reductions when you buy two pieces or more.

great color palette this season

With H&M recently opening a three-floor store, there was bound to be something along the lines of workout wear. What I found there made my fashionista heart beat faster: shorts, skirts, tights, sleeveless and sleeved tops, bras, thermal innerwear and outerwear. They even have yoga mats!

for whatever kind of athlete you are

The selections are reasonably priced so if you’re a woman just starting out an active lifestyle, these are pretty fashionable all-around gear. Men, you’ll also find gear for you at these stores, although the selection isn’t as wide as the women’s are.

I did notice a lot of the tops are made with cottony fabrics, which won’t lend themselves too well to repetitive motions such as running (chafing galore!), though there are also options made with tech fabric. It’s important to find breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that fit properly to avoid chafing and discomfort, whichever store you buy your running gear at.

It’s always great to have options, and I’ve already bought some yoga pants and dance tops from Old Navy. For my running gear though, I will still go for performance gear provided by sport-specific brands such as Mizuno.

And of course, the above fashion brands still don’t have proper sports footwear. ;)

The Importance of “Yes”

A Life Without Limits - Chrissie Wellington

Yesterday I found myself inside a bookstore to pick up a copy of Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography A Life Without Limits. I had already borrowed the bookΒ from a friend last year, but having my own copy is invaluable because I can go back to some of its nuggets of wisdom. The one I was thinking about in particular was this passage:

My only policy throughout has been to keep an open mind and, whatever I may do, give it my all…the limits that I thought I could see in the distance dissolved as I approached them. They turned out not to be real at all, but mere assumptions. And that has been the most exciting revelation of all.

When I first started running, I never thought about competing, but ran for its health benefits. Then when presented with an opportunity to race, I took it and found I enjoyed the races as well as striving to be better. Everything else that followed after was a result of saying “yes” to opportunities that presented themselves. Yes to doing my first marathon on my birthday, which led to qualifying for the Milo Marathon finals that year (it’s our own version of the Boston Marathon!). Yes to doing my first triathlon, which a few years later led to me completing an ironman this year — at one of the world’s best races, no less!

But what was the first step? It was answering “yes” to challenges that presented themselves, that ignited passion and excitement in me. I’m normally more closed-off. I’m not a world traveler, not adventurous (even in food! I always order the same things in restaurants I’ve been to), not spontaneous…

Happy Camper
doing my best Chrissie Wellington impression

I took an improv acting workshop many years ago, and one of our exercises was “Yes, And”. Two actors begin a conversation. One of them starts with a scenario, and the other agrees and builds onto that scenario. It goes like this:

Actor 1: How was your trip to Africa? Did you see any lions?
Actor 2: Yes! One of them even came all the way up to our truck.
Actor 1: I heard it scratched the door.
Actor 2: That was my door. I’m so glad it wasn’t an open-bed truck, otherwise we would have been like a bucket of KFC Chicken. Nom nom nom!

You’re not allowed to deny anything the other actor says, and you have to build on it. This has the opportunity to build into a great story, and all built on improv! One of the reasons I sucked at this exercise was I tended to say, “No, not really” instead of agreeing with my partner in the exercise.

As I re-read Chrissie’s book I see in myself many of her traits: the desire to excel, a need for approval, the tendency to become a control freak. Someone recently asked me, “Why do you hold onto so much, and hold yourself to so much? It is your biggest limiter and also your biggest asset.” I said it’s because I ask a lot from myself, and I usually get it. It’s great when it fuels me to get the best performance out of myself in a race, for instance. It’s awful when I get down on myself for things that haven’t even happened, doubting myself, resulting in questions like “what if I’m not fast enough or strong enough?” It’s something I am trying, with increasing success, to overcome.

Because of sport I’ve been “Yes, And”-ing things in my life, and it’s opened up so many new experiences, I’ve met great new friends, and been so many more places than I ever thought possible. And there’s so much more to do and see and grow into becoming. It’s not just an external journey, but more importantly it’s also an internal one. I do feel my world and my perspective has grown from all this. I’ve grown not just as an athlete, but also as a person.

I don’t want to say that I can become a world champion just like Chrissie Wellington (she’s a freak of nature!), but I do know that I am on my way to becoming the best I can be at whatever I decide to do. And I know you can do that, too. Anyone can.

But it all starts with a “yes.”

Gran Fondo Bicolandia on January 11

UPDATE: The Gran Fondo Bicolandia was rescheduled to January 11, 2015 due to the effects of Typhoon Ruby/Hagupit.

I have been sick, busy, or otherwise faffing around so I haven’t taken my Ceepo bike Aki out on a really, really long ride. And besides, I’m done with ironman training for the next few years so you won’t find me on a 200-kilometer ride any time soon. But this bike is made for long-course, so every time I end one of my rides in Nuvali I can practically hear the bike asking for more, more…

You can understand why my ears perked up on hearing about the Gran Fondo Bicolandia happening on December 14, 2014. It begins in Naga City and passes through the municipalities of Sagnay and Tiwi, the city of Tabaco, and ends in Legazpi City for a total of 120 kilometers!

Gran Fondo Bicolandia on December 14, 2014
Gran Fondo Bicolandia on December 14, 2014

This is a gran fondo, which isn’t a formal race but is more of an organized group ride with rest and feed stops. It’s a great way to get miles in as well as see the country on two wheels! The fondo is open to road, tri, and mountain bikes. Hooray for Aki!

Entry is priced at Continue reading “Gran Fondo Bicolandia on January 11”