The weather on the morning of September 28 was a cool 20 degrees.
No, I wasn’t hanging out in some extra-chilly shopping mall in Singapore. Actually, I had flown to the land of K-pop and kimchi on the red eye the day before for my very first overseas race – the Puma Night Run in Seoul.
Although I was used to sweating it out in 30-degree heat, I reckoned that the cool weather could actually be conducive for running. Well, my wishful thinking vanished when a few ominous drops of rain fell as I boarded the bus hours later to the Seoul Zoo with the Puma Singapore team, including Daryl Chew, winner of the Puma Mobium 1.6km Challenge.
We are going to the zoo, zoo, zoo
From left: The Seoul Grand Park, the Puma Night Run goody bag, cheerleaders showing off their moves
As our bus dropped us off at the entrance of the Seoul Grand Park, also known as the Seoul Zoo, the raindrops had turned into a steady drizzle. I zipped up my Puma progressive Nightcat Glow windbreaker all the way as I felt a distinct chill in the air.
It was probably about 15 degrees now – although when the sun set, the temperature would dip even lower. The venue was done up carnival style with booths bustling with activities, perfect to keep me distracted from how cold I was. There was even a Puma pop-up store and a Physical Test Zone that challenged the runners’ balance and short distance condition although I gave that a miss to store all my energy for the run. I even managed to resist shopping – this was the first time I had seen so much glow-in-the-dark merchandise from the Puma Glow collection, there were even clever little lights that you could attach to your shoe.
I had to give props to the cheerleaders at the main stage who were decked out in almost nothing and still did their routine with a big smile as though they weren’t freezing!
The glow-ing route
From left: The starting line, Puma Glow collection trainers lighting up the night, a happy Tianyun after the run
The race finally kicked off some time after 7pm – the starting line was a glowing sea of 7,000 people. Along with the DJ booth complete with thumping music and strobe lights, the atmosphere was more party than serious race.
And then we were off!
The Puma Night Run 7km route in the Seoul Grand Park had four courses to it. The first was the Mid-foot running course. The floor was wet from the rain, yes it was still drizzling, but the relatively flat ground made for a pleasant start to the route.
That was until I hit the Energy course. The name was apt as I had to push myself up the countless uphills with all the energy I had. Even though the Energy portion of the race was probably only about 1.5km, it certainly felt like eternity especially on one particular slope that I could not even see the top of. But the thing about taking part in a mass run is there’s plenty of motivation to spur you on – especially when someone older zooms past you on an upslope.
Boy was I relieved when the neon arches that marked the beginning of the Glow course came in sight. After the last intense 10 minutes, it was time for some fun with dancing laser beams and lights that shot into the dark night, and I soon forgot about my aching thighs.
Race to the end
From left: Kahfa from Puma Singapore, me, Darryl all decked out in Puma and showing off our finisher’s medals!
The final downslope towards the last Cheering course was a pleasant surprise and my feet quickly picked up speed. A group of runners from Puma Korea gamely acted as cheerleaders, standing at the side and shouting out words of what I can only guess, were encouragement – it was in Korean.
I crossed the finishing line 44 minutes after. Darryl, the Puma Mobium Challenge winner, crossed the finish line in an impressive 28 minutes! While I was gunning for a quicker time of an average of less than 6 minutes a km, I still felt a sense of accomplishment because I managed to complete the 7km despite the drizzle, cold and upslope and I had fought the temptation to stop on one of the uphills.
It had been a whirlwind two months training for the Puma Night Run – I’ve gone through interval trainings, joined a running club and tried out various shoes to improve my running style. While I’ve done it all with one final goal in mind, I realised while patting the rest of the runners for a job well done – it’s really about the journey towards the final destination. And I had serious fun along the way.
Check out Tianyun’s shoe shopping experience with Puma here, her run with Team RunFanatics here, her test-run of the Puma Faas 500 v2 here and dressing for a run in the cold here. Meet Daryl Chew, the winner of the Puma Mobium 1.6km Challenge Winner!
Puma is located at #02-153/154 Marina Square, #B2-23 ION Orchard and #02-15/16 VivoCity.