| Aziz Idris |
ADVENTURE marathoners and ultra-athletes are always looking for the next big challenge – be it in a remote desert or on high altitude mountains or even participating in a jungle marathon.
But 36-year-old Hj Asari Hj Abd Rashid, an epileptic PhD student living in Newcastle, has chosen to participate in a safari not many people can do.
He will be the first Bruneian to run a marathon in the worst conditions of running in -10 to -20°C at the upcoming Polar Bear Challenge in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.
In 2009, Asari was diagnosed with epilepsy with a tendency to having epileptic seizures and was told by doctors to reduce any sort of contact sports. After two years of having controlled epilepsy, he started his journey back to sports after getting inspired watching a documentary about Ironman where people have to finish 4km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42km of running within 17 hours. He believes that epilepsy has made him a stronger person within.
Asari, who is currently undergoing in-service at Newcastle University, said in an email interview with the Bulletin, “I’ve had a lot of people telling me I’m crazy but this is something I really want to try.”
The two consecutive days of marathon will start on October 25 in Kangerlussuaq, where Asari will pass the endless ice and arctic tundra of this vast country made up of glacial deposit landscapes and experience the soundless Arctic desert.
A part of the route will be on the 100,000-year-old ice sheet but the main part of the race is run on roads, mostly covered in snow that connects the inland ice just north of the polar circle.
Fortunately, Asari is no stranger to long distance running having trained with Tyne Bridge Harriers running club, completed the Aviva Singapore Ironman 70.3, three marathons and an ultra marathon “The Wall” from Carlisle to Newcastle Gateshead, which saw him running 110km in an impressive time of 15hrs and 55mins.
Asari is inspired to do the polar safari in order to raise awareness of the needs of people with diseases who strive for education. Working as a lecturer at Institut Teknologi Brunei, his cause received the support of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) as part of the ALAF (Advocating Life-Long Learning for An Aspiring Future) Programme.
The programme is envisioned to generate excellence in education for the underprivileged communities and secure a career or employment through a systematic sponsorship scheme. It aims to improve the life chances of children and young people by inspiring them to engage positively in their communities.
“Everyone needs education and it should start from their adolescence. Children need to be given as much opportunities in life as possible,” said Asari.