Mother of four who ran KL Marathon in room wants to beat personal best, this time, outdoors

Zeti Ariff proved you can do anything if you set your mind to it when she completed a full marathon while quarantined in her bedroom.

Her ‘ordeal’ began a year ago while preparing for the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM).

“I have been competing in KLSCM since 2017, but in the 10km category. Last year, I wanted to challenge myself by entering the Full Marathon event,” said Zeti, a mother of four.

“I was ready for the race but then received the bad news that I had been in close contact with someone who had Covid-19. I had to self-quarantine for two weeks. Unfortunately, the quarantine period coincided with the dates of the virtual race (Dec 5-13, 2020).”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the race was held virtually, with no time, or participant limit.

Runners could do their runs anywhere but had to prove their completed distance through digital applications or wearables.

Zeti was initially disappointed she could not participate, but encouragement from friends and family changed her mind.

“As I had previously completed a 10km run by running around my porch, I was encouraged to try the marathon in my bedroom,” said Zeti, an officer in the Finance Ministry’s tax department.

“I thought it was a crazy idea at first, but decided to give it a shot.”

She rearranged the furniture in her bedroom and cleared a 10m loop.

“I still had my doubts as it meant I had to complete 4,220 loops!” said Zeti, whose husband, Raja Alfie Marzuanie, told her she could do it.

“While running, he kept sending me motivational messages and, more importantly, leaving my favourite food outside the bedroom!

“Since there was no time limit, I paced myself, but had to fight off mental fatigue as it was not easy running round and round in circles.

“I finished the half marathon in over five hours, then took a break to bathe and perform my prayers.

“At the 26km mark, I received a notification on my phone that my first swab test was negative. I broke down and cried.”

She continued running but then hit a stumbling block at 33km when she nearly quit as she was feeling disorientated.

However, messages of encouragement from family, friends, and coach Mohammad Yusro Zainuddin, gave her the final push.

“The last 200m were the hardest of my life at that point. I thought I only had to complete 42km!

“When I realised I had another 200m to go, I nearly collapsed. But having already done the hard work, I pushed on and I am proud I did something so ‘crazy’.

“But I’m never doing that in a room again!”

Although Zeti’s second swab test was also negative, she still had to complete her quarantine period and could only celebrate her achievement a week after her epic run.

She is now preparing for KLSCM 2021 and is aiming to finish under six hours. This year’s edition, scheduled for Nov 20-28, would once again be a virtual event.

“I’m not a competitive racer, but I love running and challenging myself. I completed the room marathon in 10 hours, 18 minutes and 21 seconds. I hope to finish a run outdoors in under six hours,” said Zeti.

“To everyone out there, anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Don’t worry about the circumstance you are in, always stay positive,” she added.