The mission, should they choose to accept it, is to run 150km in 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds, around the trails of Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps – on June 21, the day of the summer solstice.
This is exactly what the teams of runners taking part in the ASICS Beat the Sun Relay – billed as the ultimate running race – will have to conquer.
Will be a challenging and interesting adventure for him
And national runner Raviin S/O Muthu Kumar, 26, will be accepting this “mission” – he will represent Singapore in the ASICS Beat the Sun Relay.
In total, there will be eight intercontinental teams – consisting of six runners each – from the five different continents across the world, all racing against each other to “Beat the Sun.” Two of these teams will be from the Asia-Pacific and the runners, comprising of both professionals and amateurs, will hail from Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia.
Each runner will complete two relay sections, each between 4.5km and 17km in distance, across various altitude and terrain, including trail, road and alpine whilst crossing the most stunning scenes of nature in France, Italy and Switzerland in the space of less than a day, between sunrise and sunset.Said Raviin, “To successfully Beat the Sun, runners have to complete the race in less than 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds. This is the summer solstice of Europe, which means that it is the longest day of the year. The idea of racing over France, Italy and Switzerland within this time limit makes the event much more challenging and interesting. It is definitely not possible without teamwork!”
A student at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), Raviin is certainly excited to be a part of this race. Having been part of Singapore’s 28th South East Asia Games Squad last year in the 1500m Men’s Race, Raviin will represent Singapore as one of the professional runners in the race. Each of the teams will comprise of three professional and three amateur runners.
Besides Raviin, some of the other professional runners include former Olympians Ryan Hall – a sub 2:05hour marathoner, Deena Kastor – a 2004 Olympic Bronze medallist, and World Champion Dutch speed skater Erben Wennemars.
As well, trail running legends American Megan Kimmel, Spaniard Pablo Villalobos, Brazilian Iaza Feitoza and Swede Jonas Buud will also be participating in the ASICS Beat the Sun Relay as professional runners.Said Raviin on his participation, “It is a once in a lifetime experience for me to be able to be part of such a unique race format. I mean, only a minority of people in the world can say they have run at Chamonix Mont Blanc, crossing three different countries within a day with some of the best trail runners in the world.”
Looking forward to the experience
The race will be completely out of his comfort zone, but Raviin is looking forward to the experience.
He said, “My forte is in track and field, which means that I am usually just running ovals at sea level. As compared to what I am used to, running at Mont Blanc is a drastic change for me in term of the racing environment.”
Continued Raviin, “As a track and field athlete, we don’t usually get to compete in nature. It’s kind of a whole new world for me, and that excites me! Furthermore, the scenic view of Mount Blanc is something I will be looking forward to, when I am there.”
As such, Raviin hopes to be able to thoroughly soak up the beauty of the nature, when he is at Mont Blanc. He said, “I have seen Mont Blanc in photos and it already looks amazing! I cannot wait to be running on along the scenic view and breathing in the cool, fresh mountain air!”Added Raviin, “Athletes like us, especially so for the mid-distance runners, run past everything with only one goal in mind when we compete – to win. I hope I will be able to enjoy nature to its fullest, to slow down at some point to take in the beautiful sights around me.”
Challenges include high altitudes and low temperatures
Some of the challenges that Raviin will face, include high altitudes, lower temperatures and the uneven trail roads. He said, “It will definitely be a lot more interesting and different to my usual routine.”
He continued, “But the biggest challenge will be the altitude, for sure. I have climbed a number of mountain in the South East Asia Region before and I am not prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). However one can never be certain – the nauseousness or shortness of breath may still hit you despite training and taking precautions. Not only will it hinder your running performance; it can also be dangerous too, especially when you are alone up there in the mountains.”
Training for the race
To train for the Beat the Sun Relay, Raviin is focusing on endurance running. He said “My current regime focuses on endurance running, which is perfect for the relay race as the distance is long and the terrain is undulating.”He added, “I am training at the Altitude Gym in Bukit Timah to get accustomed to the change in altitude that I will be facing at Mont Blanc. Basically we train in a room that has its oxygen levels regulated at a lower percentage than usual; it’s like simulating the environment as if you were up in the mountains. I do my long runs there.”
During the race, Raviin will be approximately 2,000m above sea level. He said, “In Singapore it is nearly impossible to train for that. The closest simulating grounds we have in Singapore, are at MacRitchie Reservoir and Rifle Range Road. These places are similar to the mountainous terrains that we will be going through at Mont Blanc.”
Hopes to use his knowledge as a national runner to help his relay team mates
Nevertheless, as a national runner who has represented Singapore previously, Raviin hopes to use his knowledge gleaned through competing over the years – not only to his advantage, but also to help the other Singapore representatives, who are amateur runners.He said, “As a national athlete, I believe there are some things that I may have better knowledge about, like training tips or what our diet should be like. But regardless of the expectations and experience of my team mates, the ASICS team and I will be there to help them out, with any questions that they may have.”
ASICS Singapore is looking for amateur runners
ASICS Singapore is looking for amateur runners to team up with Raviin to participate in the ASICS Beat the Sun Relay.
If you think that you have what it takes to conquer Mont Blanc within the time limit, then you can find out more information and join the ASICS #BeatTheSun Online Community at: http://races.asics.com/beatthesun before 24 April.
Amateur runners who put their names down will have access to an exclusive online training programme, developed by ASICS pro-athlete coaches and includes strength, nutrition, running and trail-specific advice.50 semi-finalists will be announced by ASICS and they will undergo an elite training phase, with the list being whittled down to the 24 finalists through a combination of online voting and a panel of experts. This will be announced on May 23.
The 24 amateurs who are successfully selected for the race, will be mentored by an expert athlete from their team in the final month leading up to the race, and they will also receive ASICS gear for training and race day, on top of the five-day trip to Chamonix with travel, accommodation and all expenses paid for.