Whenever Yeoh Shen Hoei, 44, steps out of his house to train, he places on a pair of trainers and exercise garments.
But on Nov 20, the data expertise advisor swapped his common train attire for a placing apple inexperienced cotton silk saree and participated in the Penang Saree Run in George Town, Penang.
The father of two – along with 5 males – wore a saree and accomplished the 5km charity run, which kicked off at Straits Quay at Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang.
“I think people were surprised to see six men – four Chinese, one Indian and one British – running in colourful sarees along the marina.
“It was challenging to run in this traditional costume due to its weight. My stride was limited, and I felt uncomfortably warm.
“Despite these challenges, I completed the run because it was for charity. I had lots of fun,” mentioned Yeoh in a cellphone interview from Penang.
The run kicked off at 8am and noticed 25 individuals working in conventional Indian costumes, together with saree and veshti. There have been 17 ladies in sarees and two males in veshtis. The run was co-organised by Persatuan Perkhidmatan Masyarakat Ceylonese Selangor Dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Perma) and Warriors Give Back, outside health firm Warrior Fitness & Adventure’s charity drive.
Penang Saree Run coordinator Malini Nagarajah, 52, mentioned many individuals have been passionate about carrying the saree and veshti, and working.
“The novelty of running in a saree caught on very fast, and before we knew it, we had more than the targeted 20 runners for the event. To run in sarees for charity is an innovative and refreshing expression of a rich and cultural legacy.
“There was a good racial mix among the participants, and we had some runners from the expatriate community in Penang too. They were truly enthusiastic about participating in the run. “It was wonderful to witness the coming together of all these participants, running for a noble cause. What made it extra special was they were in the timeless and versatile saree,” mentioned Malini, including that the run was open to individuals aged 18 and above.
According to Malini, lots of the runners turned to social media to analysis saree-draping strategies. “Many non-Indians practised their saree-tying techniques until they got it right! And, as has been proven, they succeeded very well, too, given that nobody’s saree unravelled during the run.
“Chiffon and cotton sarees were the favourites as they are lighter, breezier and more sweat absorbent and hence, suited for running.”
Yeoh used a saree – made from six yards (5.5m) of fabric – offered by the organiser.
“My biggest worry was the saree would slip off during the run. To ensure no wardrobe malfunction, I used safety pins to secure it to my running shorts, which I wore underneath the saree. I looked like a cartoon character as I fumbled while running in a saree,” joked Yeoh, who has participated in the Penang Bridge International Marathon, St Patrick’s Day Shamrock Fun Run and City of Dreams Run, all in Penang.
It was additionally the primary time homemaker Kelly Khoo, 59, donned a saree for a run.
“Running in a saree was a challenge compared to my usual sports attire and workout outfits. “Nevertheless, we should never view the saree as a deterrent to running and fitness. “I have always had the misconception that one can’t run in a saree as it hinders mobility and affects running performance.
“However, the charity event truly changed my perception, and I was amazed at how the runners broke those barriers. So my advice is, ‘Don’t overthink, just do it’,” mentioned Khoo, who borrowed her pal’s chiffon saree for the run.
“We met many supportive Penangites who cheered for us along the way and some even asked what celebration it was! I believe this concept can catch on, and raise public awareness towards promoting healthy and charity-driven activities,” she added.
Perma organised its inaugural Saree Run in Kuala Lumpur in 2020. Last 12 months, they enlarged the run to incorporate males for the Saree & Veshti Run. On Nov 6 and 13, the Saree & Veshti Run and Saree & Veshti Walkathon happened in Bukit Damansara and Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, respectively. About RM30,000 have been collected from the Bukit Damansara and Penang runs.
Malini mentioned it will be channelled to underprivileged communities. “It was nothing short of marvellous to see men and women coming together for a charitable cause. “There was so much fun and a strong sense of camaraderie established among the participants, unified by the sole objective of raising funds for a charitable cause,” she mentioned.