KL Bar Run:Building Fitter Lawyers
Featuring Lilian Lee
From Winning Cases to Winning Races
How the KL Bar Run acts as an initiative to grow faster & fitter lawyers 
& establish running as a favourite sport amongst the legal fraternity. 
Image credit: Lilian Lee

Full time practicing lawyer, avid runner and converner of the inaugural KL Bar Run, Lilian Lee, – along with the organising team from the KL Bar Sports Committee- has helped nurture and build a strong cross country running team within the legal fraternity in Malaysia, through the KL Bar Run. The KL Bar Run, is a relay race event organised exclusively for legal practitioners in Malaysia. (with an option to have 1 member with only a  LLB degree but not in practice (for eg: legal adviser/prosecuting officer/judge, etc)). Besides being a fun way to bring together lawyers from every fitness level and encourage active living amongst the legal fraternity, the event has also helped the committee source potential athletes and train them (via the Running Plan) to participate in the Malaysia-Singapore Bench and Bar Games a highly competitive annual sports event held between legal fraternities between the 2 nations. 

Lilian Lee fills us in on how she has helped develop the KL Bar Run to a popular yearly event, grow a team of legal athletes and what her future plans are.

1.Tell us about your background.
I was born in KL and grew up in KL. I am a lawyer and have been practising law since 2003 with a hiatus in between.

2. How long have you been running actively for? 
I started running in the year 2010 but I was not as active as before in terms of distance and participation in events. I still run whenever I can and where my physical condition permits so.

3. Why do you enjoy running? 
Joy and happiness; adrenaline and endorphins; camaraderie and calories. I enjoy the solitude tremendously when I run alone – the space where I can block out everything else and do a lot of introspection.

Participants of the KL Bar Run. Image credit: Lilian Lee.

4. Why did you want to get involved in the organising of the KL Bar Run?
I was introduced to the Malaysian Bar Cross Country team in 2014 through Dipendra (my husband). I participated for the first time in the Malaysia-Singapore Bench and Bar Games that year and was very taken aback when Malaysia lost to Singapore by a huge margin. I was then told that the Malaysian team has never won cross country for the past 11 years. I felt that something ought to be done about it, as surely there are good lawyer-runners around. Dipendra, who was then the KL Bar Chairman, mentioned that he had always wanted to organize a run for the KL Bar. I picked up the idea and felt that it would be a golden opportunity to search for talent – in the words I always use – to ‘cungkil bakat’ (source for talent).

5. Tell us a bit about the  KL Bar Run? 
The inaugural KL Bar Run was held in January 2015. We (the KL Bar Sports Committee) started planning it only in December 2014. Effectively we had only 1 month left to put everything in order. I decided on the format of the run which would be a relay of 4 runners in a team. This format (inspired by Pacemakers Annual Relay Run) was preferred as a short distance run would be more attractive for novice runners and the concept of running as a team will boost camaraderie. At that time, I was not so optimistic about the participation, and as I recall, only 10 teams registered a week before the closing of registration. However, we persevered and soon we had 60 teams (240 runners) taking part in the inaugural race. Since then, the KL Bar Run has grown from strength to strength and in the 4th Edition (2018), we had a record 130 teams participating. And along the way, I managed to ‘cungkil’ many good runners from KL Bar Run. I am glad to see that running has now become a favourite sport among lawyers.

6. Tell us abit about the law fraternity malaysian bar games? 
The Malaysia-Singapore Bench and Bar Games started in 1969 pursuant to Sports Suit No. 1 of 1969. Malaysia and Singapore take turns to host the events every year where various sports are contested on a competitive and non-competitive basis. The overall points for the competitive sports events are then tallied and the winner is awarded the ‘Judges’ Cup’ (which was recently dubbed as ‘Sweetie’) and the loser ‘the Lawyers’ Mug’. 

Amer Hamzah and his team during the transition point

7. How competitive are the Singapore Malaysia bar games ? 
The Malaysia-Singapore Bench and Bar Games is highly competitive, with a pinch of sportsmanship and friendliness (of course) off the court/course.

8. You’ve helped raise the standards of running sports amongst the legal fraternity. Why is it important for you to groom fitter runners? 
I wouldn’t say that I raised the standards of running sports amongst the fraternity – there are already quite a number of good lawyer-runners before I even joined the team. I would say I helped to gather them together (through KL Bar Run and other channels) and provide a platform for them to train together so that even new runners could unleash their potential. I am not a fast runner but it is very satisfying for me to see others fall in love with running and/or (pardon the legal lingo) improve their performance. Most importantly, the Malaysian Bar Cross Country team (which consist of lawyers from KL, Penang, Kuantan, Perak) has now grown into a ‘family’ with remarkable camaraderie.

9. What have you done to help groom competitive runners prior to the bar games? 
In 2014, I organised weekly training gatherings for the group where we ran without any concrete training plan. In 2016, I became the convener for the group and once again I organised trainings (about 3 times a week) about 2 months before the yearly Bench and Bar Games. The training paid off and in 2016 we won for the first time in Kuantan. This motivated us to do better. With the help of friendly lawyers and friends, funds were raised to enable us to recruit a coach. We recruited Coach Mark Williams to train the team. Coach Mark Williams trained the team from August 2016 till December 2017 before Coach Julien Prieur took over in February 2018.

TRAINING - Lawyers training with Mark Williams from The Running Lab. Image credit: KL Bar Run Facebook Page

10. Besides preparing for the bar games, do you have any other plans for KL Bar Run runners? 
The short answer is No. This is because the KL Bar Run is a sports event under the KL Bar Committee and the Bench and Bar Games comes under the purview of the Malaysian Bar. The KL Bar Run is held usually in January and the Bench and Bar Games (currently renamed as Law Games) is usually held over the Labour Day weekend. In between, there is also the Tripartite Games which is held every 2 years between the lawyers from Malaysian Bar, and the lawyers from Sabah Law Society and Advocates Association of Sarawak.

11. We all have busy schedules, especially lawyers, why do you think it is important to find time to be active?
It is important to stay fit and healthy and more so when you have a hectic lifestyle (that of a lawyer!) with high stress levels. Running is a good way to destress. It is also notable to point out that a number of members of the Malaysian Bar Cross Country group are also actively involved in triathlon events, cycling, tennis, swimming, hiking, football, hockey, squash, golf, volleyball and badminton.

12. What are your future plans for KL bar runners?
For the Malaysian Bar Cross Country team – I hope the group will stay united as a family with the common goal of beating Singaporeans at the annual BNB/Law Games. We have yet to beat them in Singapore. We lost by a small margin last year. The plan is to beat them at the Law Games at Ipoh on 29.4.2018 and to beat them at their home ground next year. As part of the future plan, my co-convener – Ashish, and I, hope to be able to get sufficient sponsorship next year to fund the group’s weekly trainings. As far as KL Bar Run is concerned, I hope to encourage more lawyers to run.

Mark Williams with his legal trainees. Image credit : Lilian Lee

If you’re a Lawyer/Lawyer-to-be who loves running and you’re keen on participating in the next KL Bar Run, stay tuned for updates on their next event HERE

About Us

ash be nimble is an online journal that focuses on sharing real and relatable fitness stories of everyday Malaysians! We are your one stop guide to everything sports, fitness & health. If you have an inspiring story to share? Write to us at hello@ashbenimble.com

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