Passion Pursuits – The Ironman (Part 1 of 3)

Passion Pursuits – The Ironman (Part 1 of 3)

Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of iflix Malaysia & COO of iflix Group

There is no doubt that Azran Osman-Rani loves a challenge. The CEO of iflix Malaysia and COO of iflix Group is an Ultimate Frisbee player, marathon runner and Ironman triathlete who swims, cycle and runs his way to peak physical form.

Nine years ago, he took part in his first 10km race – part of a company event – and the sight of grandfathers and grandmothers completing a full 42km marathon with sunny smiles was enough to spark a desire in him to complete a full marathon. True enough, he crossed the finish line the following year and another 12 in the next three. However, the thirst for a new challenge surfaced after breaking the four-hour mark at marathon number 14. “Someone suggested triathlons and I thought it was interesting, but I couldn’t swim. Then again, I l ove conquering seemingly impossible obstacles. So, I vowed to complete not just any triathlon, but an Ironman triathlon – 3.8km ocean swim, 180km bike ride and a 42km marathon run. Now, that’s a challenge!”

Therein lays a complex new layer as Azran has a deep-rooted fear for open water. “Having only learnt how to swim at the age of 40, I’m still afraid of swimming in deep open water with crowds, but tackling my fear has a special thrill for me.” After panicking in two races, he finally conquered the open sea in the 2013 Ironman race and has never looked back. “As a triathlete, I enjoy competing in three different disciplines despite my fear. Cycling appeals to the engineering geek in me as I try to squeeze in tiny increments of improvement by optimising weight, aerodynamic drag, power, cadence and numerous other metrics,” he enthuses. “However, running is hands down my favourite leg in a triathlon. I feel my spirit soar as my body and heart beat in unison. There’s also a competitive joy in striding to overtake all others who were ahead of me during the swimming and biking legs. As I progressed and got involved with competitive endurance races, fitness became a tangible way of keeping track of my improvements and discovering latent physical abilities.”

While his dedication to fitness clearly results in superior physical form, Azran finds it permeating every aspect of his life as well. “It has become a personal mission and a core part of my identity,” he explains. “It strengthens my belief in achieving the seemingly impossible; be it turning around my health, running a marathon under four hours, or learning to swim and completing an Ironman triathlon. These were feats that were daunting at first, but with time, effort and perseverance – and a lot of help from experts who were willing to share – I conquered them all.”

So what words of wisdom does Azran have to for those seeking to embark on this journey of health? “To make new healthy lifestyle habits stick, it’s important to find activities that are enjoyable,” he advises. “If the idea of going to a gym and being intimidated by sweaty regulars turns you off or if you find running incredibly boring, don’t force yourself. Move at your own pace and don’t feel compelled to do what others are doing. If walking around a shopping mall is more fun for you, then do that. You don’t need to be drenched in sweat to enjoy the benefits of physical activity.” Time to get your hearts pumping then!

Click on the links below to see the other inspiring pursuits.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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