Social media followers of Malaysian ultra trail runner Mohd Puzi Dolah consider him “a legend” for his super strength, agility and endurance.
Last year, Mohd Puzi was the only Asian finisher at TransPyreneA 2016 (866km in distance and 65,000m in elevation gain). He finished in 44th position in 386 hours, 49 minutes and 38 seconds.
After his run that year, he was interviewed and featured in Hong Kong’s Asia Trail (Asia’s trail running magazine) for its Sept/Oct 2016 issue.
The 51-year-old Mohd Puzi is a humble man. “I’m embarrased because I have not reached the top yet,” he said sheepishly.
There’s no denying that Mohd Puzi was literally born to run.
“Running is my mate,” he answered when quizzed about his choice of singlehood.
Some friends say he is “addicted to running”.
He laughed and said: “I like running and feel satisfied just doing it! Endurance runs are very exhausting but each race is a form of escapism from the daily grind.”
Recently, he participated in the 2017 Bromo Tengger Semeru 100 Ultra (Nov 3-5) in East Java, Indonesia, but did not finish the 170km run due to a bout of diarrhoea.
Next year, Mohd Puzi will compete in three races: Montane Spine Race (Jan 14-21) in Britain, Black Baikal Race in Siberia, Russia (March 2-9) and Swiss Peak Challenge in Switzerland (Sept 2-9).
The Spine Race (430km) is one of the world’s toughest endurance races. In the Black Baikal Race, he will run and pull a sledge on the world’s oldest and deepest lake, which is frozen in winter.
The Montane Spine Race is one of the events under the “5 Legends” series, which comprises “five notoriously gruelling, international single-stage races” – all non-stop and over 300km.
In the 5 Legends series, those aspiring to become “a legend” will have to traverse desert, mountain, moorland, snow, ice and face extreme weather. Races should be completed between 2016 and 2019.
The 5 Legends is a collaboration between the organisers of Montane Spine Race, Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, Tor Des Géants, TransOmania and TransPyreneA. In 2019, Mohd Puzi plans to compete in Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, Tor Des Géants and TransOmania.
Apart from his attire, shoes and bags (sponsored by Salomon) and GPS navigation watch (Suunto), Mohd Puzi has self-funded many of his races.
He hopes that a corporate body can sponsor his Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra race, which is estimated to cost RM50,000 including entry fees, air tickets, hotel and winter gear.
He also hopes to raise funds for charity through this race. Therefore, he welcomes any interested local non-government organisation to contact him.
Besides the 5 Legends, Mohd Puzi’s “dream races” include two trail races in the United States: Hardrock 100, an ultramarathon of 100.5 miles and the Western States 100, the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race in California.
The sixth of 11 siblings, Mohd Puzi’s interest in running has not waned since the age of 14.
As a student (SM Jerai, Baling in Kedah), he was a long distance runner, winning several competitions. He competed in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m runs (district level).
Born in Baling, Kedah, he regards himself as “a kampung boy who found his niche in running when he moved to the city”.
“When I relocated to Kuala Lumpur in 1990. I was first exposed to adventure racing. I eventually joined marathons and ultra trail running,” said Mohd Puzi, an administration officer.
“My passion in all kinds of outdoor sports has driven me to enter many competitions locally and internationally,” said Mohd Puzi, who is 170cm tall and weighs 58kg.
Other than road running, he has participated in adventure racing, which includes mountain running, abseiling, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, horse riding and scuba diving.
He was a member of the Malaysian team Mild Seven Outdoor Quest in China in 1997 and 1998. He was also in the 1999 Elf Authentic Adventure in the Philippines where his team eventually placed fourth out of 15 teams after racing for 11 days and 20 hours.
Mohd Puzi was also selected to represent Malaysia for the Eco Challenge Race in Argentina (1999), Sabah (2000) and New Zealand (2001). He also participated in Raid The North Extreme Canada (in 2000) and The Baise Leye Mountain Outdoor Quest in China in 2011 and 2012.
Other than team events, he has competed as an individual in two major marathons: 1994 Boston Marathon (his personal best time is 2 hours 52 minutes) and 2010 London Marathon. In 2011, he took part in Ironman Langkawi and 100km Ultra Trail Marathon in Sabah.
While most people would use their lifelong savings on holidays, Mohd Puzi has running on his mind.
Over the years, he has competed in endurance runs in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, China, Italy and Switzerland,
Entering endurance races might be punishing to the body but Mohd Puzi is in seventh heaven after each run. What matters is that it is his hard earned money well spent on a sport he loves!