By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
Over a few years, Paviter Singh had completed a couple of half and full marathons. But the Singaporean felt that something was missing.
“To celebrate my 30th birthday, I decided to challenge myself by signing up for my first 100km ultra marathon in Kota Kinabalu. It opened up my mind to so many new thoughts that I’ve never looked back on ultra marathons since then,” he tells Asia Samachar.
This is how Paviter got sucked into becoming an ultrarunner.
An ultramarathon is technically a race that is longer than a marathon (42.195km), generally starting from 50km onwards, right up to 100miles or even longer. Most ultra marathon races are on trail, off road and require a form of self-sufficiency while out for hours or days through mountain passes, deserts or various types of terrain.
“We go through lots ups and downs in an ultra marathon. There is a saying that we go through a lifetime of success and failure within a single race. That said, I do aim to stay calm, focused and present during a race,” he said.
“An ultramarathon is a very reflective experience where it’s less about racing against others, but about challenging oneself. It has taught me to be more resilient on a daily basis, to respect people around me and value our surroundings. Solidarity is a big part of ultramarathon running.”
Paviter is a partnership developer at Hyper Island, a school and a business consultancy that aims to develop organisations and individuals to deal with change in a digital world.
Ultrarunners are required to be more than just fit physically. For the UTMB, the regulations state that runners are required to know how to face, without outside help, climatic conditions which can become very difficult due to the altitude (night, wind, cold, fog, rain or snow). They must also be able to manage, even if one finds oneself isolated, physical or mental problems arising from issues like high fatigue, digestive problems, muscular or joint pain and minor ailments.
In May, Paviter joined fellow running enthusiast from local running group JustRunLah! had joined forces with Singapore search engine Google to map out the popular running trails in Singapore. They have started capturing photographs of popular running routes like Singapore Botanic Gardens, Mount Faber Park and MacRitchie Reservoir. All in, they plan to cover more than 30 running routes spanning over 400km in the next few months.
They will take turns to don the Google’s Street View trekker — a 20kg and 1.2m tall “wearable backpack” — as they traverse around the island’s running routes. The Street View trekker has 15 cameras mounted at the top for 360˚ panoramic imagery.
“It will visualise various trails in Singapore to encourage people to be more active and visit these areas. It also aims to make the natural environment in Singapore more accessible,” Paviter said.
NEXT STOP: MT BLANC
Some of his previous races included Lavaredo Ultra Trail 119km (2015 and 2016), Ultra Trail Australia 100km (2014 and 2015), TMBT 100km (2011, 2012 and 2013), Beaufort 100km (2014) and UTMB CCC 101km (2014).
His next stop: Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) in September 2017. It consists of a gruelling 100 mile (170km) trail race with about 10,000m of combined elevation gain passing through France, Italy and Switzerland along the Mt Blanc Trail.
Asked about his best experience from ultra marathon running, Paviter said it was seeing his parents at the finish line of the race last year.
“It was cold and rainy…I had been running for about 21 hours and to hear their voice and see them as I ran to the finish line meant a lot to me.
“They support my endeavours a lot and it was their first time ever watching me start and finish and ultramarathon. My dad has always been passionate about the mountains and to see them happy made me happy, too,” he said.
His mother is a pre-school teacher while his father is a property agent.
Will he recommend the sports to others? Paviter responded in affirmative.
“I would recommend this sport, definitely,” he said. “It challenges us to step out of our comfort zone, move away from our virtual bubbles to explore. It requires dedication, a bit of discipline but involves a lot of fun. One gets to meet like minded people and it brings the world much closer. I’ve made wonderful friends from all around the world through this sport.”
Malaysian environmentalist Gurmit Singh tells his story (Asia Samachar, 23 April 2017)