On 17 May, some 7,000 runners gathered at the university neighbourhood of Hongdae, Seoul. The vibrant and youthful surroundings typically attract a younger crowd of locals and visitors to a string of hip cafés, watering holes, and Korean brand boutiques. This area, according to the locals, is the place to discover up-and-coming underground cultures and trends. But on this day, a 100m-long stretch is filled with enthusiastic Puma Ignite Seoul participants. Both professionals and novices flank the street from curb to curb, all geared up to complete a 10km course. It is a route that takes the runners along the popular Hangang River, across the Seogang Bridge that connects the city of Mapo and Yeouido, before passing the National Assembly Hall along the way to Saetgang Ecological Park (a botanical preservation area nestled in the heart of the city), and to the finishing line in Yeouido Park with an after-party featuring K-pop sensation Psy.
For most returning for their second, third, or even fourth run, it’s as much a party as it is a test of endurance. For some, the run is an annual affair. Others come to support fellow runner friends, while the rest try to clock in a new timing. Now into its fourth year, the event continues to draw a huge crowd, and despite the persistent downpour, the wet and cool evening does not damper the spirit of the event. Prior to being the Puma Ignite Seoul, it was known as the Puma Night Run, part of a series of runs that originally kicked off in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan 10 years ago in 2007.
The success of the Puma Night Run quickly spread to other countries including South Korea (the run is now branded as the Ignite Seoul Run), Malaysia, and Singapore. It’s also indicative of where the German sportswear giant was headed then. From its Olympic gold medallist and the World’s Fastest Man global ambassador, Usain Bolt, part of the global Forever Faster campaign, to the launch of a series of Puma Ignite, Puma rapidly gained its foothold in the performance sector. The success of its Ignite series is a case in point. The lightweight maximum energy-return running shoes received rave reviews worldwide shortly after it was launched several years ago. Since then, the engineers and designers at Puma continue to develop a series of updated versions including the Ignite XT, Ignite Ultimate, and Ignite Dual, incorporating the latest technology in performance footwear. Kohei Hagio, Puma’s senior head of product line management for running and training footwear, comments, “At Puma, we continue to push for innovation in all our products – it’s a never-ending pursuit and the goal is to create the fastest products in the market. With the Ignite Ultimate, we know we’ve elevated the Ignite technology further and we won’t stop there.”
In 2014, Puma brought its highly acclaimed night run to Singapore. The island’s first Puma night run kicked off to a good start with approximately 3,000 participants. This year, an even bigger crowd is expected. The 2016 Puma Night Run Singapore, scheduled to be held at the Seletar Aerospace Park, is expected to attract more leisure and competitive participants, with two completely new categories – 6km and 12km courses. Both paths will take the runners along the fringe of the Seletar Airport and through clusters of preserved black and white colonial houses. During the run, runners will experience the sights and sounds that are different from the usual cityscape of previous runs, including the occasional take-offs and landings of private jets. At the finishing line, a host of fringe activities are planned for the all the runners at the race village including performances by Disco Hue, Shigga Shay, and DJ Nash D.
The Puma Night Run will be held on 27 August 2016 at Seletar Aerospace Park. The race categories are: Men’s Open 6 km, Men’s Open 12 km, Women’s Open 6 km, and Women’s Open 12 km. Winners of each category will receive prizes including Puma vouchers ($1000 or $2000), a one year True Fitness membership, and a Puma watch. Registration starts from $55 per person, and each runner is entitled to a Puma Night Run Singapore T-shirt, towel, shoe bag and finisher’s medal. Sign up at www.puma-nightrun.com.sg.
This article was originally published in Men’s Folio August 2016