Fewer people have earned the Abbott World Marathon Majors’ Six Star Finisher medals than the movie industry has awarded Oscars. Only 1,300 people have taken home the medals, compared with 2,947 Oscars, if you ignore the fact that the marathon series has been running only since 2006, while the number of Oscars trophies covers the first 87 Academy Awards ceremonies.
The low figure attracted Dato’ Setia Aubry Rahim Mennesson, who had just run his first half-marathon when he heard about the Big Six. The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series of the six largest and most renowned marathons — Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. Runners who complete the full routes in all these cities qualify for the Six Star Finisher medal, and only a handful of Malaysians have succeeded thus far. Building up to a full marathon is no easy feat but the struggle was particularly tough for Mennesson — who, prior to the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in Cambodia, had spent an agonising year barely able to walk.
“I have always been quite active and played a variety of sports, though tennis is my main game,” he says over coffee at Babel Fit in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. “I used to run just to maintain my form. Then I had two slipped discs. It was almost impossible for me to walk 50m without needing to sit down. I spent a year in bed and even had to work while lying down. It was awful.”
The cause of his back problem could not be determined. Mennesson says he may have aggravated an old injury from kick-boxing or from a couple of scooter accidents when he lived in Paris, or it may have been a lifestyle habit that went unchecked. He says was playing golf one day when he noticed an unusual stiffness in his back.
“I went home and the pain exploded,” he recollects. “It was blinding. It was over a year before I could bear and manage it.”
He found the immobility intolerable, and when he was finally back on his feet, Mennesson was eager to resume his active lifestyle. A friend mentioned he was planning to participate in the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon and invited the newly recovered Mennesson to join the run.
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