The global Wings For Life World Run – an interesting charity run organised with the guidance of Red Bull Singapore to raise the awareness of the search of a cure for spinal chord injury – is unique. This is because there is no fixed finish line. Instead, the finish line moves towards you at increasing speeds – in the form of the Catcher Car. The winner of the event will be the last man or woman standing.
As well, the Wings For Life World Run also takes place simultaneously in 35 countries worldwide. These include European destinations such as Denmark, Spain and Netherlands to Asian countries like Taiwan and Japan to Melbourne in Australia and Brasilia in Brazil, South America.
The cause had resonated strongly with him
Singaporean ultra runner Paviter Singh Jahangir, 33, participated in the Taiwan leg of the Wings For Life World Run 2015, which took place earlier this month. He had chosen to participate in the event because the cause behind it, had resonated strongly with him.
Explained Paviter, a Relationship Manager at Hyper Island, “There are at least 250,000 traumatic spinal chord injuries that occur every year. It affect people’s lives and livelihood tremendously. A spinal chord injury can even happen at home, through a simple fall or it could even happen to me when I am out running on trails. Such a reality struck a chord with me and I felt the need to raise awareness of the Wings For Life foundation.”
“And Taiwan seemed like the perfect location too. There is no time zone difference between Taiwan and Singapore. The weather is also not too different from Singapore’s, and it is slightly cooler there. So it made the perfect opportunity to run without jet lag,” continued Paviter.
Concept of the race was quite unique
At the same time, the concept of the race was also quite intriguing to Paviter. He explained, “I loved the concept! In this race, I was not just competing with runners in Taiwan. It was truly a global race. Participants across 35 countries were racing at the same time.”
Added Paviter,, “But it was a hard race, perhaps mentally harder than a traditional race where there is a fixed finish line to run towards and a distance that we must complete. Here, the finish line was running towards us at increasing speeds. With a set distance, there could be points where we can take it a bit easier. Not in this one though, we were on the limit from the get-go. I found it quite exhilarating!”
A brand new type of challenge for him
As Paviter is more accustomed to running trail ultras rather than road ultras, he also found the Wings For Life World Run a very different type of challenge for himself.
He said, “I am more used to running ultra marathon trail races over the past four to five years. This involves running across mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, spanning distances of 100km. The running pace in these races tend to be slower and more varied. It was also slightly newer territory for me to push beyond my comfort zone. But then again, that is what I enjoy doing. It is always a great feeling to step out of my comfort zone and challenge what I am used to.”
Added Paviter, “So coming into a road race such as the Wings For Life World Run presented a nice challenge for me. I had to run quicker and sustain a decent pace. My initial target was about 40km. Anything above that would have been great. As part of my race planning, I calculated at what distance the Catcher Car would reach certain intervals. Based on that, I aimed to cover 13km every hour, to achieve my target of 40km. I ended up running for slightly over 41km in 3 hours and 5 minutes, coming in 7th in Taiwan. It was quite an intense pace to maintain, running at an average of 4mins 33seconds per kilometre.”
Tried to outrun the Catcher Car for as long as he could
How did he feel, at the very point during the race when he had realised that the Catcher Car was going to be upon him? Explained Paviter, “The flashing lights of the Catcher Car were visible for about 3km behind me, as I was running on a straight stretch of road. There was a sense of excitement, almost like the hunter versus the hunted.”
He added, “I did try to outrun it for as long as I could, but the cheers and support from all who were in the Catcher Car, made the ending of my race so memorable yet slightly fleeting. As I stopped, the Catcher Car continued on to chase after the remaining six runners in the Taiwan race. It felt great.”
Pre-race atmosphere was memorable
There were some memorable moments in his race too, such as the atmosphere at the starting point in the stadium. Said Paviter, “I loved the atmosphere at the start point in the stadium. It gave me an opportunity to soak in the collective vibe, that is, everyone running for a good cause. Reaching each checkpoint was such a boost too, as the support was amazing and they were well-stocked with water, Red Bull and bananas.”
Main takeaways from the event
Paviter’s main takeaways from the very interesting Wings For Life World Run were that he is thankful for each and every day that he has the ability to still walk or run. He added, “It doesn’t matter how far or fast. Our spinal chord enables us to do what we love and I am thankful for that.”
Tips for aspiring ultra runners
What are some tips that Paviter has, for those who are keen to try out ultra marathons? He said, “First of all, enjoy your surroundings, and soak in the environment. Also, be positive – not just in running but in life. In ultra running, just like life, nothing ever goes as planned. A positive mindset will get you through that.”
“Train for specifics too – hill training and building muscle strength are important. Also, it helps to break large distances into smaller and mentally digestible parts. Finally, walk whenever you have to,” Paviter added.
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