Paviter Singh may be a lighthearted person, but when he runs for a cause he is more serious about it than most. That may be one of the reasons Red Bull decided to sponsor him; he’s an athlete with heart, energy and a great attitude. When he runs to support the Wings for World Run 2015 on 3rd May, his presence will make a huge difference in the fight, since this event is all about funding worldwide scientific research and clinical trials aimed at finding cures for debilitating spinal cord injuries. We wanted to know more about Paviter, and toward that end, we got some help from Angeline, Red Bull’s Singapore National Communications Manager. You’re going to like what you read about this exceptional runner and human being.
RS: How long have you been running ultras?
Paviter: My first was the Sabah Adventure Challenge in 2011. It was my birthday that November and you might say it was a gift I gave myself—a new challenge. How did I do? I tell friends that I stumbled the entire distance, but I finished. The rest, as they say, is history.
RS: In addition to that birthday challenge, what else motivated you?
Paviter: My sense of adventure; the unknown drew me to this sport. Before then, I ran road races, but something was always missing. I found that puzzle piece when I ran my birthday Ultra in 2011.
RS: You are sponsored by Red Bull. What qualities did the Red Bull people see in you that resulted in their sponsorship?
Paviter: Well, I like the brand and regarded myself as a Red Bull supporter even before we met. I can only guess they picked me because I’m active and enthusiastic on multiple levels. I engage on social media platforms, content sharing and Facebook. I’m a social person who loves to run, communicate, stop and smell the flowers. Making friends and hanging out with Red Bull personnel and the Singapore team has been icing on the cake.
Angeline: I’m going to interject myself into the conversation so I can tell you why we picked him! The Red Bull mission includes inspiring others and giving people wings so they can achieve their dreams. We saw in ultra-runner Paviter a spirit and dedication we admired, and we are thrilled he will represent Red Bull in the upcoming Wings for Life World Run in Taiwan.
RS: Having a major brand and a nation count on your run is a big weight to put on your shoulders! How do you cope with the pressure of being Singapore’s and Red Bull’s hope?
Paviter: There will be butterflies in my stomach on the day of the race, but all I can do is try not to overthink the entire race. I will focus, run hard and do everything I can to raise awareness for the spinal injury cause. I can’t tell you how honoured I am to represent Red Bull—it’s quite the dream come true, in fact!
RS: What will you do to ensure being in optimal shape for the Wings race?
Paviter: I’ve increased my training to six days over the past month and I’ve been doing physio work to boost my mobility and flexibility. My body feels quite sore after training, so I treat myself to an occasional reward–like a massive nasi padang which makes me feel better immediately! Yoga helps me stay calm and focused, too.
RS: Can you tell our readers what your training week looks like and where you train?
Paviter: Here’s a snapshot of where to find me undertaking my conditioning routines:
- On Tuesday, I do progressive, 90-minute runs with negative splits at East Coast Park.
- Wednesday is for stair training–sometimes with a loaded pack—at either Fort Canning or near my home.
- Thursday is for strength training, followed by a relaxing jog with my Singapore Cricket Club Runners buddies.
- I speed train on Saturday. For example, I run a 15 x 500m, 6 x 1000m or a combination of distances.
- My recovery run is an easy 60-minute affair around the MacRitchie Reservoir circuit on Saturday.
- On Sunday, it’s back to the serious stuff: two to 3.5 hours of long running on hills and elevations at Bukit Timah Hill, Lorong Sesuai or Fort Canning.
RS: Do you train alone?
Paviter: I do, but I must credit my coach, Mile 27’s Andy DuBoi, since he designs my training programs specifically for the races I plan to run. He’s not with me six days a week, but I can hear him in my head if I start to let down while undertaking my proper workouts!
RS: Have you ever raced in Taiwan, Yilan before?
Paviter: I’ve never even been to Taiwan, so everything will be new and exciting!
RS: How do you train for a race when you’re not on your home turf?
Paviter: I have a formula that serves me well: I investigate weather conditions so I pack the gear I need. If it’s a trail ultra marathon, I acquire maps to study the terrain, and I try to locate race videos shot in that area so I get a feel for what to expect. I found this formula very helpful when I raced the UTMB CCC race in 2014, so I’m sticking to it.
RS: The Wings for Life World Run was introduced in 2014, so it’s relatively new. How did you first hear of it?
Paviter: Word of mouth–from running friends. I loved the cause the moment I heard about it; didn’t think twice about saying yes. I can’t imagine what it must be like to suffer a spinal cord injury that renders one wheelchair bound for life.
RS: The Wings for Life World Run will flag off at the same time at 40 locations across six continents—a truly international effort! Why did you choose Taiwan over the other areas?
Paviter: Good question–I’ll let Angeline chime in here!
Angeline: The location was picked with input from the Red Bull team in Singapore. The timing and setting seems ideal, because there will be no time difference, little jet lag, and Taiwan is in close proximity, so it’s really a convenient trip from Singapore.
RS: You have set a target distance of a marathon for the Wings for Life World Run. What is the furthest distance you have run continuously? Will you strive to break your personal record?
Paviter: Wings will be a great endurance and speed test since I come from a trail running background and of course this will be a non-terrain challenge, too. I am quite used to hills, mountains and rough gravel and I’ve run marathon distances continuously during my training runs to prepare. On 31st December 2014, I ran 45km, starting at Marsiling, past Boon Lay and I finished at Raffles Place. I will try and break that record, for sure!
RS: What’s your most memorable race? Why?
Paviter: Can I say all of them? If I had to choose one, it would probably be The North Face Australia 2014. This was the second time I ran this race. In 2013, I fell ill at the 65km mark and finished in 20 hours, 05 minutes. I was gutted and set out to train for a full year, so in 2014, everything went according to plan. I ran my race in 16 hours, 09 minutes. Reducing my timing by 4 hours was very memorable!
RS: We haven’t mentioned your career. You work at Hyper Island, which means you’re constantly thinking about how all things digital impact our world. Do you mix the digital world with physical running to achieve balance or do you have a hard time reconciling your two worlds?
Paviter: My world does revolve around all things digital because my job involves looking at how digital affects our lives and how we deal with change. I believe in lifelong learning, which is very compatible with ultra-marathon running. I am always learning; a desire and passion for learning and getting out of that comfort zone drives people like me. A good example of this is my enthusiasm for social media which enables me to stay in contact with the Singapore running community. Sharing stories online deepens our friendships.
RS: After your Wings Run, what’s up next on your marathon calendar?
Paviter: This is going to be a busy, challenging year. I plan to run in Hong Kong at the Raid Light Lantau Stair Master on 16th May, then I will do the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 119km in June. The ASICS City Relay Run in August is on my calendar, as is September’s Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 100-miler. It’s not yet confirmed, but I’m targeting the Ultra Thai Chiang Mai in December. What better way to wrap up a fantastic year?
As you can probably tell, Red Bull found the ideal person to sponsor for the upcoming Wings for Life Run in Paviter Singh, which led us to wonder about the impact of sponsorship in the world of marathon running. Does having a brand ambassador inspire you when you participate in a marathon or have an impact on how you run your race? If your answer is yes, can you name a sponsor that changed the way you see your own commitment to run?
You can follow Paviter @pavitersingh on Twitter to know more about his training schedule and updates.
Support and catch Paviter Singh in action during the competition on Wings For Life Word Run website as there will be a livestream of the competition. Spectators can follow the screened livestream at their local Wings for Life venue.