BEIJING - Suwaibah Mohd Nasir is on a mission to prove that the strong ties between Malaysia and China can never be eroded with a 3,333km marathon.
The 41-year-old began a run across 12 nations, beginning from the capital of China.
"The choice of route - from China to Italy - is the reverse of the Silk Road," Suwaibah said during the flag-off ceremony at the Malaysian embassy here yesterday.
"I am able to start my journey with the strengthened friendship between Malaysia and China, as we are currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations this year," she added.
With the theme One World One Hope, her feat, dubbed Silk Route Run - Across Reverse of Marco Polo (Aroma), also carried with it a message of peace. "We want to tell the world that Malaysians are peace-loving citizens," Suwaibah said.
The countries to be covered in her journey include Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Croatia.
She plans to run 50km a day, and is scheduled to be received by the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the patron of Aroma, in Italy on June 3.
This is Suwaibah's 11th and longest endeavour she had ever attempted or ever will. She plans to retire this year.
Her previous marathon achievements included the Sahara Race and the Empire State Building Run-Up.
"To prepare myself for Aroma, I went through a year of intensive training, including strength and endurance exercises," Suwaibah recalled.
Her mission is also a charitable one. Funds raised through the run would be used to donate Islamic prayer materials and accessories to small and rural Muslim towns throughout Subaiwah's journey. Excess donations would be channeled to the National Athletes Welfare Foundation (Yayasan Kebajikan Atlet Kebangsaan or Yakeb).
Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin, who flagged off the event, wished Suwaibah a safe and successful journey.