Early birthday cheer for national marathon runner

KUALA LUMPUR - Shaharudin Hashim's birthday came early this year as he celebrated winning the Malaysian men's category at the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur marathon yesterday.

The national marathon runner, who turns 37 today, has now won the event three years in a row, making it his seventh win since 2004.

Shaharudin finished the 42.197km race after 2 hours 42 minutes and 28 seconds, nearly seven minutes ahead of second place winner Fabian Osmond Daimon.

"Even though it wasn't my best time, I'm still happy that I managed to win, especially since it came just before my birthday," Shaharudin said.

The Perak-born police corporal is currently guided by French trainer Jean-Pierre Lautredoux and has a personal best time of 2 hours 33 minutes and 21 seconds, recorded at the Seoul marathon five years ago. He has won the KL Marathon in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and last year.

Shahabudin's prize which includes a cheque for US$2,50 (S$3,200) was presented by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who also gave out the awards for the Malaysian men's and Open veterans' categories.

The Malaysian women's category was won by Sarawakian Ling Mee Eng, 44.

Muhyiddin said the marathon was the best opportunity for the city's denizens, especially the young, to show what it means to live in a peaceful and multicultural country.

"It is a really significant event -- it shows that Malaysia is a very open country which welcomes visitors from all over the world," he said before flagging off the 5km Fun Run at the National Monument.

A total of 28,000 participants took part in the city-wide marathon, including 1,000 international participants from countries such as Kenya, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Singapore.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the marathon was a good way of promoting the city as a venue for international tournaments.

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