Remember when Soh Rui Yong created a new national record for the fastest 2.4km run? Six minutes 53.18 seconds—that’s an average of around one minute for each 400m round.
Well, that record has been broken by fellow national runner Jeevaneesh Soundararajah at the Pocari Sweat Run, with a time of six minutes 52.97 seconds.
And this is why everyone’s watching this race.
Soh’s Challenge to Facebook Haters
Soh first posted on Facebook about his new national record on 8 September 2021, giving the time of each lap in his 2.4km run.
This was met with support, but plenty of Singapore Army commandos (supposedly) also claimed that a 2.4km timing of under seven minutes is a common occurrence.
Soh gamely clapped back at these haters, issuing a challenge: any Singaporean, commando or not, who runs a 2.4km under seven minutes in the next Pocari Sweat Run will receive $700 and 700 bottles of Pocari Sweat, from his own pocket.
Of course, the internet went wild, and many companies stepped up to sponsor rewards of their own as well. Massages and 700 packs of chicken rice, anyone?
This challenge is certainly a grand way to defend his honour—but not only did someone meet his challenge, they even broke his record.
New National Record Holder: Jeevaneesh Soundararajah
The Pocari Sweat Run, held at the Home of Athletics last night (8 January), saw a new national feat.
Under the heavy weight of 100 spectators’ gazes, Jeevaneesh Soundararajah pulled through to break Soh’s record by 0.21 seconds.
Other than Jeevaneesh, there were also two other runners who ran a sub-seven minute 2.4km: Gurkha Subas Gurung clocked 6:54:53, while Soh himself clocked 6:55:50.
Ethan Yan, the other runner in their group, clocked an impressive 7:09:09 as well.
These four runners were the fastest amongst those who rose up to the challenge on Saturday.
Almost 400 runners signed up for the challenge, but there were fewer than that who turned up due to reasons like scheduling conflicts. The challenge was postponed from October to November, then to January due to safe distancing measures.
Winning All the Time Is…Boring?
Jeevaneesh, who works for a solar firm as a project manager and engineer, shared that he knew he could break the record from training sessions. The real challenge was achieving it during the run itself, and he had to push himself in his last lap.
Jeevaneesh also said that the atmosphere was something they’ve all missed during the pandemic, even though the spectators could only cheer from the perimeters and not inside the stadium.
Soh, who had just lost his national record to Jeevaneesh, congratulated his training partner. He expressed his appreciation to Jeevaneesh for helping to push him to be better during training as well.
Soh also didn’t seem to mind that he was in third place below Subas, saying that Subas’ ability to run below seven minutes was precisely the reason why Soh invited him for the challenge. The Gurkha runner set the Gurkha Contingent 2.4km record at six minutes 58 seconds in July 2021.
Soh continued to say cheekily, “We wanted to add a bit of competition because winning all the time is boring.”
Now that is the confidence of a national runner.
100 Spectators Came to Cheer Runners On
About a hundred spectators came to observe and cheer for the runners around the perimeter of the Home of the Athletics. The venue has a limit of 100 spectators as part of safe management measures.
The crowd included Subas’ friends from the Gurkha contingent, and local athletes like C. Kunalan, the former 100m national record holder. Kunalan stated that he was looking forward to seeing the four top runners work together even when they all want to win.
Singapore Athletics president Lien Choong Luen also expressed his eagerness to expand the 2.4km challenge to include different age groups or even army unit divisions.
Seems like all the commandos and the grandmothers from army myths would have a chance to defend their honour in the future.
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