SOURED PASSION : For regular participants of running events, like myself, the cancellation of mass-participation sports events in 2020 & 2021 had greatly impacted our lifestyle physically & emotionally because those events were an integral part of our passion for running, and socialising.
WITHDRAWAL SYSMPTOMS : Without exaggeration, it has been difficult to fill-in the void left behind by the absence of all running events. Prior to the Movement Control Order and even before Covid-19 reared its ugly heads, until end 2019, we were FREE to join our favourite races during any given weekend. These events were important for runners to gather, and meet old & new running buddies to SHARE our common passion for running. However, when Covid-19 cases started rising dramatically, our livelihoods, and our economic and social freedom were suddenly being restricted and controlled by the Government under an Emergency Act which had even closed our Parliament House – the nation’s one last bastion and symbol of our democratic freedom.
MASS DEPRESSION : At ground level, runners were forbidden to run in groups and in parks. At best, we were only allowed to run solo and only in our respective neighbourhoods from 8am to 8pm. Running solo without any social interaction, and on the same route can get extremely mundane, and depressing after a while. More seriously, the whole nation was just going stir-crazy being cooped-up in our homes, except to go out to buy food and for some restricted outdoor exercises. It is extremely stressful to see so many people losing their lives, jobs, income, homes and businesses through no fault of their own. We are desperately hanging on to slivers of hope among an unprecedented tsunami of daily bad news. What can we do? When will this nightmare be over, if ever? Sadly, even the experts are uncertain of how a post Covid-19 future will look like.
HUMANITY TRUMPS ALL : Fortunately, as we move swiftly towards herd immunity through a national campaign of mass vaccination, people are starting to look forward to the relaxation of interstate and international travel restrictions. I learnt that during the hardest times, we must look after our poorest and weakest first – just forget about Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest! Our basic humanity will never allow us to have inner peace if we neglect our duty to help the needy, even if the scientists and politicians say and do otherwise.
MAKING NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS : Nothing is guaranteed in life, EXCEPT for change. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and complaining about things beyond my control, I prefer to use this opportunity to comprehensively assess my personal situation and re-align my goals, ambitions, dreams and desires to fit and be in synch with the current environment and society which means letting-go of some outdated habits of the past, and embracing the uncertainty of a new beginning. If we don’t change and adapt with the times, we will literally and metaphorically become extinct!
DISTRICT RACE SAVES MY DAY : After running solo in my neighbourhood for one year under the black cloud of a pandemic, I was greatly relieved to join the District Race Virtual Run which started on 1st March 2021. After slowly losing my running mojo and mind running solely to survive, this virtual run gave me the inspiration and motivation to run HAPPY again. You see, by downloading their dedicated App to my phone, I could once again connect with other runners from anywhere in Malaysia digitally. We were inspiring each other by sharing our running sessions online. Not only were we able to share all our running data with each other, but also our running selfies! District Race gave us added incentive to run further and more often by offering prizes for the top runners and best selfies. Unlike other virtual runs, District Race is not only about how far, we could run, but there was also the added excitement of exploring our cities in search of specific checkpoints to collect more points. On top of everything else, the runners’ collective effort were responsible for raising RM50,000 for charity, thanks to the Main Sponsor, AIA Vitality! So, for 4 months, until the end of the race on 30th June 2021, I was able to re-discover my running mojo. With this renewed vigour, I now will never take the importance of running happy for granted again. Yes, there’s no such thing as a bad run, only unimaginative runners. I have learnt that you never have to run solo again if you have the District Race App on your phone – give it a try!
If you want more information on what transpired during the District Race and its phenomenal success , I recommend that you read the following Press Release…
DISTRICT RACE MALAYSIA BY AIA VITALITY, THE WORLD’S GREATEST EXPLORATION RACE ATTRACTED MORE THAN 11,000 RUNNERS
● The free-to-participate event returned with AIA Vitality as the presenting sponsor, inspiring Malaysians to stay active while living in the new normal.
● Malaysians ran together for a mutual cause; raising RM50,000.00 for the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) during the special Get Fit For Charity Campaign in conjunction with Ramadan.
● Chong Zee Min from Penang was named the lucky winner to take home the grand prize of a brand new Proton X50
● Over 40 prizes including Garmin watches and adidas gear was also given away to lucky winners.
Maintaining one’s health during this challenging time has not been easy, especially in the past six months where various movement control orders were put in place due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on many things, with mass participation events being one of them.
Adapting to the various challenges caused by the pandemic, District Race Malaysia by AIA Vitality rose to the occasion and made a return as an augmented reality event by providing a digitally engaging and fun urban exploration experience. This year’s event was made even more attractive as participation was free and made available nationwide. This gave equal opportunities for runners across Malaysia to participate in the event.
District Race Malaysia by AIA Vitality was launched on 1 March 2021, providing users with a fun way to lead an active life to stay happy and healthy during these trying times. The 4-month long event became an instant hit with avid casual runners in Malaysia; including non-runners who just enjoyed casual walks. The event has managed to exceed its initial target of 10,000 sign-ups, with over 11,000 participants registered on the District app, all vying for the opportunity to take home the grand prize, the brand new Proton X50.
One of the contributing factors to the overwhelming response was the flexibility of participation – making it easy for runners to choose the when, where and how of their participation. The District app was enhanced to be even more user-friendly – by simply stepping out of the house, switching on the app, pressing start and navigating their journey towards checkpoints to earn points. With no set route or distance and checkpoints made available everywhere, explorers were able to create their own strategy and choose how they wanted to explore. Whether by walking or running, everyone got to participate at their own pace.
Participants were also able to link their GPS supported wearable devices to the District app and earn points for any walking or running activities. The points collected on the wearable were then credited towards the overall leaderboard. The prizes up for grabs via lucky draw included over 40 items such as Garmin watches and adidas gear, as well as a brand-new Proton X50, which undoubtedly was the main attraction.
Josh Tendler, Head of Marketing, District Technologies said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many planned events worldwide, and mass participation events especially are not excused. The event cancellation is definitely felt by runners everywhere. That is why we decided to do a digital race for this year. What the digital event lacks in the physical interactions, it makes up for in flexibility. Participants get to choose how and when to do the race at their convenience, while collecting points, being healthy, and unlocking Augmented Reality selfie filters. In my opinion, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is we now found new ways to connect with our loved ones, others around the community, either by staying active together or just enjoy their companion through virtual interactions and reaching collective goals together. We would like to thank AIA for helping to make District Race’s vision in providing an engaging and fun urban exploration experience a reality as well as their support for the second year in a row.”
Heng Zee Wang, Chief Marketing Officer, AIA Bhd. said, “I would like to congratulate the winners and the participants of District Race Malaysia by AIA Vitality for their amazing achievements despite the current circumstances. We hope that this event has inspired Malaysians from all walks of life to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle during these challenging times. We would like to express our appreciation to District Technologies for successfully executing a digital event that benefitted many Malaysians and we look forward to supporting many more exciting initiatives like this as part of our efforts to help people achieve Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.”
Chong Zee Min emerged as the lucky winner to bring home the most coveted prize; the all-new and free Proton X50. Participants received 1 entry to the lucky draw for every activity of over 2,000+ points in the District app.
Chong was surprised when she learned of the news. “The event itself inspired me most as it turns exercising into a fun and unique experience while exploring many different and interesting areas of my city that I would have otherwise missed out. I am thrilled have won the grand prize, a brand new Proton X50. Such an unexpected sweet surprise! This is a massive bonus coupled with a sense of achievement. I am truly delighted!” said Chong, 31, from Penang.
Amongst the other prizes presented were Garmin watches and adidas merchandise to the Top 3 Overall Male and Female Champions, as well as merchandise packs to the Biggest Team Overall.
For Overall Male, the first place was taken by Jimmy Lim, taking home the Garmin Fenix Watch, followed by Chew Soon Yong in second place and Yew Hoe Liew in third place, winning them the RM 1,000 and RM 500 adidas vouchers respectively.
For Overall Female, the Garmin Fenix Watch was won by first placed Lynn Ooi, followed by Ooi Ai Lyn in second place and Teoh Seow Sian in third place, also taking home the RM 1,000 and RM 500 adidas vouchers respectively.
The Biggest Overall Team, AIA District Family, with a total of 40 members, took home free merchandise packs for each member.
District Race Malaysia by AIA Vitality also hosted a series of campaigns throughout the 4-month long event to give runners more reasons to participate. In conjunction with Ramadan this year, the Get Fit For Charity campaign was conducted, rallying runners across Malaysia to come together in solidarity for the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM). The challenge was to collectively hit the goal of 5,000,000 points, with AIA committing to donate RM1 for every 100 points scored during the campaign period. While the challenge was set for 12 April – 16 May 2021, the target was met well ahead of time, hitting the overall goal by 4 May 2021. Thanks to the collective efforts of the runners, the charity engagement was an overwhelming success with RM 50,000.00 raised and donated to NCSM.
Besides collecting points for the charity, the Top Average Team Score Challenge was also conducted to incentivize runners to keep their points rolling. Team Sonic took home RM10,000.00 cash after accumulating an average of 289,000+ points per team member.
In June 2021, the Social Media Contest went live, asking users to post a photo, video or story to their Facebook or Instagram taking part in District Race Malaysia by AIA Vitality, along with proof of an activity of at least 2,000 points. The lucky winners were chosen based on their creativity and walked away with prizes such as Garmin watches, adidas vouchers, and Garmin merchandise packs.
For more information, follow @DistrictRaceMY on Facebook and Instagram.
About District (exploredistrict.com)
Contact: Chris Cable, Head of Events, +6017 349 2342, Chris@districtrace.com
District is a ground-breaking technology platform that encourages people to lead active, healthy lifestyles through the District app. With no set route or distance, participants choose how they explore the city, by completing virtual checkpoints and challenges to accumulate the most points within the race time limit. The app makes use of augmented reality, location-based technologies, and gamification to create a unique experiential running experience for participants.
About AIA Vitality
AIA Vitality is Asia’s first and only comprehensive science-backed health programme. It provides members with the knowledge, tools and motivation to bring about long-term positive behavioural changes to lead a healthier life. AIA Vitality members are incentivised to actively engage in health and wellness activities by offering them a range of benefits including extra insurance benefits on selected insurance and Takaful plans as well as savings and discounts from AIA Vitality partners.
About AIA Bhd.
AIA Bhd. is a leading insurer in Malaysia, where we have been privileged to do business since 1948. We offer a suite of financial solutions including Protection, Health, Personal Accident, Employee Benefits, General Insurance, Mortgage, Retirement and Family Takaful products to meet our customers’ protection and financial security needs at every life stage. Through our wide and diverse distribution footprint which comprises of a 19,000 strong Life Planner force, our exclusive bank partner’s branches nationwide as well as corporate sales teams and brokers, we give our customers the choice of deciding how, when and where they connect with us.
Part of the AIA Group, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, AIA Bhd. has the financial strength, experience, service centre network and a well-trained team of more than 2,600 employees to serve our 4 million customers nationwide. As at 30 June 2020, AIA Bhd.’s total asset worth was RM57.45 billion, with a paid-up capital of RM810 million.
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*Disclaimer*To the best of my knowledge, all of the information provided herein is accurate at the time of publishing and the views expressed are based on my own personal opinions and findings, and they don’t necessarily reflect the views of the Product Manufacturer, Event Organiser or any Third Party unless explicitly specified otherwise.