Our Malaysian FRND Udey’s journey with running started the same as many – he got into the sport to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight. He kept running past that goal – to podiums, medals, plaques, coaching high school, and starting his own run crew. We called him up to learn more and share his story.
Running photos by: Wan Ace Photography, concert photo by: Senselessart Photography
Ciele: Where do you call home now?
Udey: I was born in Alor Setar, Kedah. I lived in the big & hectic city [Kuala Lumpur] for many years. In 2014, I moved back to my hometown. Life is more relaxed now. I can take a deep breath of fresh air, feel the tranquility around me, and easily balance my daily routine and activities with my life at home with my wife Tunku Nur Atikhah, and my two adorable kids Adra & Adean. I enjoy gradually passing on my passion for running to them; we hit the trail and run road together on weekends.
Ciele: Have you been into running your whole life, or did something happen that got you into it?
Udey: I reached a point where physically I wasn’t happy with where I was. I was around 80 kgs (175 lbs), and I picked up running to help me reduce weight and develop an active and healthy lifestyle.
Ciele: Looking at pictures of you now – in particular pictures running marathons and ultras – it’s hard to imagine you at a point where you weren’t happy with your health and fitness. Was it a challenging start or it came natural to you?
Udey: It wasn’t easy; I struggled a lot at the beginning. I had to work really hard on staying positive, keeping myself focused, and self-discipline over my diet & ensuring that I got enough rest. It was a commitment to my family and kids, which served as a strong motivator on harder days. I reached my target weight in 2015 by losing 25 kgs [55 lbs], and still to this day, more than any medal, trophy or plaque on my wall, it’s my biggest accomplishment in running.
Ciele: You run both trail and road, short distances and ultras – do you have a preference?
Udey: I like to balance both road and trail equally. My speed workouts & long runs – I do mostly on the road. I work on strength through climbing and training on the trails. In 2015 I started with road, half-marathon and marathon. It only took 2 years before I committed to doing ultras – 50, 70, 80, 100km and 100 miles. I prefer trail running – it allows me to discover the unknown and hidden paths, find tranquility, and the hills and mountains reward me with picturesque views.
Ciele: What other accomplishments, in addition to your weight goal, are you proud of along the way?
Udey: I keep running faster, setting new PBs. I’ve been on the podium in races. And I’m proud to represent multiple brands, both local and international: CAPTERRITORY, Ciele, Key Power Sports Malaysia, Hutan Ration (powerfood), & Medgelx. I also coached the high school cross country team. It was very rewarding to see your runners competing, representing my hometown and state, and even more special if they end up on the podium. Regardless of outcome though, I enjoy watching the next generation get into running culture, and developing a passion for the sport.
Ciele: If someone heads to Malaysia for the first time, do you have an iconic run that you would take them on?
Udey: Yes, for sure! The rice plains in Kedah are known as the “Rice Bowl of Malaysia.” There are paddy fields everywhere – it’s not to be missed – beautiful views, refreshing winds, and vibrant green scenery.
Ciele: You founded a local run crew, Conquer Running Crew. What’s the vision of the crew?
Udey: Yes, I’m one of the founders! We’ve been grinding the streets and trails around Alor Setar Kedah since 2015. I had my own clothing brand, Conquer Clothing Co, and inspired by the worldwide phenomenon, we started our own running crew. At the beginning I brought all of my close friends and local runners onboard, sharing our passion for running, lifestyle and streetwear. Our vision is to expose and promote a healthy lifestyle, pushing running culture and working as a team to support each other to achieve everyone’s individual goals. I really love the running culture here in the Northern area – it’s simply about positive vibes and a healthy lifestyle. The crew lets me reinforce that and help maintain the culture.
Ciele: is there a good story about your long flowing hair?
Udey: I was inspired by extraordinary trail runners with long hair, good style, and seem cool! Like Anton Krupicka and Timothy Olson.
Ciele: You used to be in a band. How does music fit into your life?
Udey: I was playing bass in a metal/hardcore band called Incarnation, from 2005-2015. We had to disband due to commitments and some of us started our own families. We had an album & an EP, music videos, and we toured around Southeast Asia. Now, I enjoy strumming an acoustic guitar for myself and the kids. These days I’m more into post-rock, and instrumental bands. But for sure, music is an important part of my life. It builds up my strength, my energy, and I channel that into running, biking and skateboarding.
Ciele: Is skateboarding still a big piece of the puzzle?
Udey: I started skating back in ’98, and still do – but I skate smart not hard so I avoid injuries. It’s a creative outlet where I can express myself. I head out and have fun in the park, grinding curbs, rails and funboxes.
Ciele: There is a nice tone to your feed – the photos, the moods. It has a nice aesthetic and although the subject of your photos is often quite challenging material – like a marathon or an ultra – it still feels serene scrolling through. We really appreciate the balance of athleticism and creativity that you have. Do you think you are a creative first, and athlete second?
Udey: Maybe yes, or maybe the other way around. Both are related and I think you need to be creative in running. You need to be creative to overcome obstacles and trails, to think of something new for running, and to find ways to create activities that are either more challenging or more interesting in order to attract other people to join.