Meet CK Loh, the one-armed Spartan warrior
THE famed Spartan obstacle race has a slogan: ‘You’ll know at the finish line’.
After finishing the gruelling test of strength and endurance, one-armed boy wonder CK Loh knew he was just the same as everyone else. He proved to the world that you didn’t need all four limbs to conquer the Spartan Race.
The arm he never wanted
As an Ipoh-born child with a different set of abilities, he was made to wear a prosthetic arm at the age of seven that weighed close to 4kg. Yet without any control over the fake limb, it proved to be a burden for him rather than an advantage.
“I never liked wearing it, and the arm cost RM15,000, which was a big financial burden for my parents.”
Loh says the artificial arm made him feel like an alien as people always stared at him, and so he was compelled to wear long sleeve shirts all the time.
“I skipped gym classes, and shy away from all sports activities which eventually led to obesity,” says Loh, who was constantly bullied and discriminated when he was in school.
A comment that changed him
He had hit his lowest point in life when a lecturer in his university made fun of his design work.
“I had to cut a lot of things with a pair of scissors for an assignment, but the final product was not that great. I remembered the lecturer saying: ‘You can’t even do this assignment well. Maybe I should cut your other arm too,’ which got my classmates laughing.”
It was clear then the lecturer was joking rather harshly, but his remark hurt Loh tremendously.
“I called home for the first time and broke down. I wanted to give up on my studies.”
He felt like ending his life then.
“I wanted to just do it, but when I think about how my parents will be devastated by my passing, I felt the urge to be better.”
He simply had to be stronger than them.
Making a difference
He pursued with his study in design, and graduated, despite his so-called disability. He was even able to find himself a job as a designer, earning his own money and making his parents proud.
Things, however, started to slide for Loh when he gained a lot of weight due to stress from work. His self-esteem went down the drain due to his physical appearance and unhealthy lifestyle.
But it started to turn around again when a former colleague urged Loh to sign up for a gym membership. He decided to give it a try and start with a three-month membership.
He went from weighing over 80kg to a mere 57kg in just three months, finding his confidence throughout the journey. In 2012, he completed his first ever 10km run at the Nike We Run KL. He also got the chance to fly to Gold Coast, Australia to run a full 42km marathon for the first time in 2013.
“The best part about running that race was the fact that my dad was waiting for me at the finish. That really spurred me on to finish the race,” he recalls.
Overcoming obstacles, one race at a time
A year and many runs later, Loh decided to push himself even further. He signed himself up for an obstacle race event: the Reebok One Challenge. The organisers were just as surprised as the people admired him for his courage and determination.
“I just wanted to break my own record. Since I’ve tried everything else, I wanted to do something new, running 21km with obstacles.”
When one of the world’s most intense obstacle races, the dreaded Spartan Race, first hit Malaysian shores in 2015, Loh registered in a heartbeat. His fighting spirit earned him a Spartan Trifecta medal after completing the Sprint, Super and Beast events, which consist of over 40km and more than 70 obstacles altogether.
One of Loh’s most unforgettable moments came when he was chosen to participate in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships in Lake Tahoe, USA. Dubbed the most difficult race among the Spartan series, the race consisted of over 30 obstacles spread out in a distance of 21km and an elevation of over 2,700 metres. To top it all off, it was also snowing along the way!
Today, the 30-year old stands tall with his trail of accomplishments, never looking back at the naysayers.