Two Singaporeans for ‘beat the sun’ race at Mont Blanc
Singapore duo take part in European race to 'beat the sun'
Singapore middle-distance athlete Raviin Muthu Kumar almost always trains to beat fellow runners, or times.
Today, along with amateur Lance Sum, the 26-year-old will be part of a team that will battle altitude, various slopes and different kinds of terrain when they compete in Asics' Beat the Sun race at Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak.
The 150km race in continental Europe is scheduled to start at sunrise this morning (local time) - the longest day of the year - and the goal will be to complete the distance within 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds.
The Singapore duo are part of a six-strong Oceania-Pacific team - the other runners are from Australia and Hong Kong.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, Raviin, a final-year SIM psychology undergraduate, said: "The biggest challenge of the race will definitely be the altitude.
"No matter how much we train here, we can never mimic the atmospheric pressure at Mont Blanc, which can cause athletes, professional or amateur, to have acute mountain sickness."
Raviin was handpicked by Asics as one of the three "expert" athletes in the Oceania-Pacific team, while Sum, 33, is an "amateur" runner who was chosen from thousands of online entries.
Eight intercontinental teams - Europe North, South and Central, America North and South, Oceania-Pacific, East Asia and Africa - will take part in the race, including former Olympians Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor and Erben Wennemars.
Each runner will negotiate two sections of the 150km route - which is between 4.5km and 17km long - that spans France, Italy, and Switzerland.
"I saw a video of last year's race and was quite impressed," said Sum, an operations executive who has been running for 12 years.
"I have been training since last year, when I was preparing for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore as well.
"But I think the slopes are going to be pretty tedious, so I have been putting in more effort to train."
Raviin has been training at the Altitude Gym - which simulates atmospheric conditions at 4,000m above sea level - since February, while Sum has been there a few times.
The duo have been at Chamonix, near Mont Blanc, since last Thursday in a bid to acclimatise with local coditions.
Raviin hopes to enjoy the run, as well as to rub shoulders with the likes of Hall, who holds the record for the fastest marathon by an American.
Sum, though, is going there just for one purpose.
"I want to beat the sun, that is my primary goal," he said. "I hope all eight teams can do that together."