Saturday, June 18, 2011

Four Marathons & A Funeral


It must have been around mid-2008 when I was lucky enough to have decided to register for the Borneo International Marathon (BIM), the first of such event to be organised in Sabah in over 20 years. That was also the first ever race I've joined.

I was unsure of my level of fitness, so I ran only the half marathon that year. That was a significant turning point in my life, not only because of the discovery of a new passion in running, but also because I found a new friend, Andrew Voon; he was the Race Director of the Borneo International Marathon.

Andrew had been running for a while prior to 2008. And because of his passion for running, he organised the BIM, against all odds, together with some of his running buddies. That the BIM is a success is a fact no one could deny as evidenced by the gradual increase in the size of participation as well as the size of funds raised for charity.

Well, it's been four marathons organised by Andrew, and I still can't imagine how he pulled them off, considering that he had to juggle between running his own business which required frequent overseas trips, and his passion in running, biking and fellowship with his friends. But like a magician, he conjured up tricks upon tricks to bring the success story of the BIM to new heights without fail.

Among our circle of friends, Andrew played the role of the organiser all too well. He'd be the one who'd organise gatherings. Pre-marathon dinner, post-marathon BBQ, post-training drinking sessions, Christmas Potluck party—you name it, he never ran out of ideas to keep us all on our toes!

It was in Hong Kong earlier this year, when we were there to run the Hong Kong Marathon, that I shared a room with him. We had lots of time to chit-chat, and I actually found myself thinking that I was so lucky to have found such a good friend in Andrew.

We're approaching the end of June, but Andrew had already lined up so many more events for the rest of this year. Apart from running the KL Marathon next Sunday, he had also registered for the Sydney Marathon in September. He's also planning to join the Mount Kinabalu Climbathon, the Miri Triathlon, the Sabah Adventure Challenge in November. He's just so full of life...

That's why I was shocked beyond words to have received the news of his passing this morning. He went to the Likas jogging track and was into the first few laps of the intended 18km run, when he suddenly collapsed onto the track and never regained consciousness again. He is survived by wife, Carol, and 4 kids.

The man who brought us all the Borneo International Marathon had enriched many lives with the passion of running, promoted Sabah as a marathon destination, while at the same time raised funds for charity. I was there at the funeral parlour this evening to pay my last respect to a great man, a dear friend; without any doubt a very big loss to the community.

Thank you, Andrew Voon; rest in peace my friend; your passion lives on in the rest of us. You will be missed.


21 comments:

Khadeeja Shah said...

When a fellow runner passes away, it hits us hard because we know we it could be just any of us. We've all pushed ourselves to the limit, but we never really thought much abt what that one time would result in.

The short time that I knew Andrew when promoting this year's BIM with our company and also during runs, he is one with good intentions and will be sadly missed.

*CaTWoMaN* said...

Such a tragedy. Too many runners collapsing in SG and MY lately...

Cornelius said...

KD,

It's quite an irony, really, that a man with such a big heart was eventually overtaken by a heart failure. It's beyond imagination that a man not even 50 yet, would suddenly drop dead, but it's a reminder to us all how life is very, very fragile and unpredictable. My heart goes out to Carol and the kids.

Cornelius said...

Indeed, Catwoman! But this morning, after our run, we gathered under a tree in the park to discuss about Andrew.

When hearing stories about runners collapsing, there is a tendency to jump to the conclusion that it's the running that kills.

There were a few doctors amongst us. The general consensus was that cases like this are usually caused by pre-existing conditions; and it's likely that the running and other sports that Andrew had been doing all this while had prolonged his life for a few years, not shortened it.

Teo said...

Shocked and sad indeed. The first time our encounter was at Likas running track prior to the first BIM marathon clinic. He laughted at me after seeing me wearing my usual topless running cap and said " Hey bro, r u a runner or a golfer?" ..........

In years to come, we became running buddies, cycling buddies, swimming buddies and not forgetting all the Post, Pre this and that makan minum buddies. Yes Corny, Andrew never run out of ideas when it came to Celebrations. We were even talking about setting up some sport business next week when we r going to meet up with some suppliers in KL.......also might even organise a triathlon in KK aka BIT after we ourselves have done a few to gain experiences.

But sadly his time has come so suddenly in which I am sure even he himself did not expected. Deep down inside, i am sure he will not want us to stop doing what he had started, which is running. My deepest condolences to his family members Carol,Jeff & the daughters. Rest in Peace my dear buddy, I will surely carry the title you gave to me 'Kipas King' and try to Kipas others to a better & healtier lifestyle.

RunWitMe said...

RIP Andrew. I'm sure you will be missed by the running community in Malaysia.

kkyum said...

I met Andrew in the PAsta Party of BIM 2010. The last was when he commented on my Christchurch marathon pics and said he wanted to run there, RIP Andrew.. KK

Kenneth Soh said...

I feel so shocked and sad as Andrew is a great guy and I just played golf recently. we done Mount KK together in 2001 and it was such a wonderful trip. All these shall always be remembered and I shall miss him a lot.

Kenneth Soh

Kenneth Soh said...

I feel so shocked and sad as Andrew is a great guy and I just played golf recently. we done Mount KK together in 2001 and it was such a wonderful trip. All these shall always be remembered and I shall miss him a lot.

Kenneth Soh

ezooone said...

well written corny..our thoughts are with him and his family..

Cornelius said...

Thank you all for your comments. Just to announce that the funeral will be held at the Anglican Church, Karamunsing at 9am on Wednesday, 22nd June. If you're attending the service, I'll be seeing you there.

almostclever said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This must be such a blow to the running community.

Cornelius said...

Sarah,

He was a good friend. It's almost a routine for our circle of friends to exchange emails, almost on a daily basis, teasing and poking fun at each other; making arrangements for a get-together. It's been only a few days, but I'm already missing Andrew's emails.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=81344

Anonymous said...

his son just left too :( RIP

Cornelius said...

Thank you, Anonymous friends.

We heard about this yesterday evening, and all of us were devastated! Too many questions and very few answers; too many rumours and too many different versions. That's why I'm not posting anything for the time being.

Besides, we are now up to our nose as we approach the final week to the Borneo International Marathon which is on next Sunday. I will try to post something about this when the dust has settled. A very, very sad news, and my heart goes out to Carol at this very difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Just think that God loves Jeffrey more. Please extend whatever assistance or support to Jeff's mother and family if you are able to do.

From KL, a mother who lost her baby son 22 years ago and has a son who is close to Jeffrey

Cornelius said...

Thank you, anonymous friend. It pained me immensely seeing Carol at the funeral parlour yesterday. Being a parent myself, I can feel what she must be going through now. But Carol is a strong woman, I have faith in her.

Anonymous said...

I miss andrew so much. Not a day passes that i don't think of him.

Cornelius said...

I'm not surprised, Anonymous friend, Andrew had such an effect on many people. Last Saturday, while out cycling with my friend, Teo, we were still talking about him. Amazing that we were still talking about him after over a year.

Anonymous said...

It's my dear Andrew's birthday today. I wish he is still here with us today. I still cannot stop thinking about him. He will forever be in my heart. Happy birthday dear Andrew!