Trained as a graphic designer, this 29-year-old decided to run an ultra-marathon on a whim. Okay, that’s unfair. Jeff ran a solo 250km sub-Saharan seven stage race, to raise funds for the Malaysian Aids Foundation. He has undergone no specialised training and has zero understanding about the stresses his body was about to endure.
Trudging across powder-fine sand for seven days without showering, the soles of his feet turned to giant blisters and he spent every moment wanting to give up. But he didn’t. He pushed through the pain, fear and mental barriers.
Tell us about your first ultra-marathon.
I had no idea what I have gotten myself into because running on sand is a nightmare. I remember it took about nine hours to complete just 29km, and I had 220km ahead of me. Even 5km into the race I wanted to give up. But it isn’t me to leave anything hanging. If I start something, I have to end it. Besides, I told myself this place is too scary, there’s no way I want to be back next year to complete the race. I have also met this 40-year-old lady. She was blind and running the Ultra with a running guide. That lady silenced my negativity in a powerful way.
But you did go back, didn’t you?
(laughing) Yes! I did my second Sahara-run in 2016. Then in 2017 I went to the Arctic, the Canadian Yukon, to be specific. That was a 560km run with icicles hanging off my eyebrows and eyelashes. Since then, I’ve gone to Amazonian Peru, Sweden and Switzerland; I did the 10 Iron-Mans in 10 days there. So, that was 3.8km of swimming, 42.2km of running, and 180km of cycling – over 10 consecutive days.
Why do you keep going back?
It’s a personal challenge to myself. A lot of people ask me about my mental game, but honestly, I just tell myself to hurry and get it over with, because I can’t wait to go home and eat my mum’s terrific cooking! I’m a normal guy like everyone else. There’s nothing special or unique about me. If I can do it, so can you.
Shirt, vest and shoes by Gucci; TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 automatic chronograph in black ceramic with black skeleton dial and black rubber strap