PUMA Night Run Taipei 2014: Celebrating Taiwan’s Modern Night Cats
I was kindly sponsored by Puma to travel down to Taiwan for the PUMA Night Run Taipei. Although I have travelled to Taiwan before, it was my first ever overseas run, and I was really excited to go!
The Puma Night Run Taipei has been around for 8 years. With 10,000 runners and plenty of local Taiwanese celebrities taking part this year, it is one of Taipei's most popular night runs and going strong.
Pre-Race Street Snacks
Touching down a day before the race, my race buddies and I decided to fill our tummies at one of Taiwan's famous night markets. Night markets in Taiwan tend to be crowded and bustling, with street vendors selling food, drinks, apparel and much more.
We visited Shida Night Market, which also happens to be located right outside a university. Catering to students, there were plenty of trendy shopping outlets interspersed along with the yummy street food. With a race coming up the next day, we decided to be a little more cautious with our food choices. But that didn't stop us from trying pig's blood rice cakes and smelly tofu!
Gearing up for the Run
After a good night's rest at the hotel, it was race day. When I reached the event place at Dajia Park, the scenery was definitely different than what I'm used to in Singapore. Across the Keelung River lay some hills and the gigantic classically-styled Chinese Grand Hotel Taipei, which made for a uniquely Taiwanese setting.
Many participants were already there before the official time, and having a good time with their friends. As the sun set, the vibe was pretty positive, with many runners putting on glow-in-the-dark fluorescent accessories and taking selfies, as well as gamely joining in the warm-up routines led by fitness instructors.
Kick-Off! Relishing the Sights and Sounds
The run consisted of 2 distances: 14.3km and 5km. I ran the 5km route, which stretched toward the outer perimeter of the Dajia Riverside Park and back.
Something that I realised after joining a number of runs: Despite having thousands of runners, everyone tends to keep quiet while running. There were the people weaving never through the crowd, determined to get a personal best. Others, like me, were happy to be "in the moment", appreciating the sights and sounds around us.
5km runners ran underneath the looming Dazhi Bridge, which crossed the Keelung River to the hillside. Halfway through the run with the sun set, the winds blowing from the mountains were starting to get chilly. I relished running in cool weather, which is a luxury I don't usually have in hot and sunny Singapore. Nearing the finish line, the traditional Chinese-styled Grand Hotel was now lit up with eye-catching neon nights, making for an attractive sight.
Although I didn't run the 14.3km route, the feedback I heard was positive, as the longer route encompassed 3 bridges and covered more interesting scenery. It was raining sporadically the whole week, but thankfully the weather on race day was clear, windy and pleasant.
Games, Fun, and the PUMA Infinite Music Party
As with many races nowadays, the fun didn't at the finish line. An emcee back at the main stage got the some games going, with participants from the audience winning freebies from PUMA.
The main draw were the famous Taiwanese singers, Dai Ai-ling and A-Lin, who came on for the PUMA Infinite Music Party, and it was really a blast listening to their songs. With the comical antics of the game participants and screaming fans cheering for their idols, it really felt like I was in a Taiwan variety show!
This year, PUMA gathered 10 Taiwanese artists and fashion designers and organized the "Night Cat Club", underwent a 10-week special training by PUMA's professional track and field coach, prepared to challenge the 14.3 km group in the 8th PUMA Night Run Taipei.
PUMA Night Run Taipei also cooperated with the "Liver Disease Prevention and Treatment Research Foundation" for the third time this year, offers free screenings for liver disease and liver ultrasound services to each runner and remind the public of the importance for liver health.
Going on 8 years strong, the PUMA Night Run Taipei was the premier night run event in Taipei, and with 10,000 runners and such entertaining after-race activities, it was definitely an experience to remember.
Prowling Taipei's Night Markets After the Run
With its numerous night markets opening till late, Taipei has a vibrant bustling nightlife. After the run, I went to fill my hungry stomach at the Raohe night market. I wasn't the only one with this idea, and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw many fellow runners still in their PUMA race tees savouring the street food!
The race and overall experience in Taipei was very positive for me, and I had a great time. With delicious food and great shopping, I've always loved holidaying in Taipei. Time to train and return for the 14.3km route next year!
Good news for those interested: PUMA Night Races are coming up in other Asian countries in September and October too!
There are 3 upcoming PUMA Night Races: The PUMA Night Race Seoul will take place on 22 September in Seoul, Korea. The PUMA Night Race Singapore takes place on 18 October, while The PUMA Night Race Malaysia will be on 25 October.