Subas Gurung first broke the 7-minute barrier for 2.4km during a routine physical fitness test in July 2021.
It went relatively unnoticed except by a handful of people who followed him on social media .
Until national athlete Soh Ruiyong issued an open challenge to anybody who could go below 7 minutes during the next Pocari Sweat 2.4km event, prompting a nationwide hunt for the elusive sub-7 runners.
Fast forward a couple of months later, Gurung was going toe-toe-toe with some of Singapore’s fastest men during the Pocari Sweat 2.4km challenge, in a bid to run a sub-7 timing.
Apart from Soh himself, competitors included Ethan Yan, who clocked a 7 minutes 6 seconds 2.4km while serving in the army, and Jeevanesh Soundararajah, Singapore’s representative for the 5,000 metres event at the 2015 SEA Games.
It turns out that they would all give each other a run (literally) for their money, with a total of three men crossing the finish line under 7 minutes on Saturday night (Jan. 8).
28-year-old Jeevanesh pulled away from the pack during the last lap and stormed to a first-place finish with an official timing of 6 minutes 52 seconds.
This is slightly faster than Soh’s officially recorded timing of 6 minutes 53 seconds clocked in September last year.
Gurung finished in second place with 6 minutes 54 seconds, and Soh was third at 6 minutes 55 seconds.
Yan missed out on the sub-7 by nine seconds, finishing fourth.
In case all these timings are too mind-bogglingly quick for you to handle the calculations, a sub-7 2.4km entails running each lap around the track in under 1 minute 10 seconds.
Introducing Subas Gurung
Gurung has managed to run not one but two sub-7 minute 2.4km runs in the past six months.
The 24-year-old clocked a 2.4km run of 6 minutes 58 seconds on July 22, 2021, a feat made even more extraordinary by the fact that he had completed 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups as part of his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) just before that.
Gurung, who has been with the Gurkha Contingent for about six years, is considered one of the fastest Gurkhas in Singapore.
To his knowledge, he does not know of anybody else who has achieved that kind of timing during IPPT, Gurung told Mothership.
He first broke the 8-minute barrier with timing of 7 minutes 51 seconds in 2016 and has since made incremental improvements to his 2.4km timing every year since then. In 2020, the year before he went under seven minutes, he clocked a timing of 7 minutes 8 seconds.
His general quickness extends to longer distances as well.
His quickest 10,000m time is 31 minutes 46 seconds — officially logged on Nov. 28 this year — and he can blaze through 5km in slightly over 15 minutes.
Gurung does his own workouts two to three days a week, whenever he is not on duty.
The training that he puts his body through comes in the form of speed intervals, long-distance runs, as well as body weight and cross-fit training, all mostly done within the Mount Vernon camp. When he needs to pound some roads, he ventures out for longer runs “all around Singapore”.
All of this in addition to Gurkha training, mind you, which would already include training such as running with operational gear and equipment.
Given the intensity of his training and the mileage he clocks every week, what is this man even made of, you wonder?
He admits that he still feels “tired and exhausted when I push myself hard”.
“Do you actually like to run?” I ask him. “You can be honest.”
“Yes, because it keeps me mentally and physically strong.”
Spoken like a true Gurkha.
“Keep on moving”
Gurkhas are described as the world’s “toughest soldiers” known for their exceptional fitness and combat skills. Every year, thousands of potential recruits vie for a coveted spot within the British Army and Singapore Police Force.
The Gurkha selection test comprises a range of assessments — physical, academic and medical. One of the hurdles to cross is completing the doko race, an uphill sprint in the Himalayan foothills while carrying a Nepali doko basket filled with rocks, within a certain timing.
Gurung, who is born and raised in Nepal, claims that he is not a “natural runner”. However, he explained: “Our (Nepalis’) lower limbs are stronger due to walking around with weights, and going up and down hills”.
I ask Gurung if he has any advice for those trying to run a faster 2.4km.
He lists some suggestions, such as the importance of rest, hydration and nutrition, as well as having a workout regime that is appropriate for one’s fitness level and targets.
The resilience that got him to where he is today is apparent, as he adds, “Training will be hard and difficult but never lose hope. Keep on moving until you achieve your goal.”
Indeed, with many things in life (including 2.4km runs), the only way is forward.
Top photo via Instagram/subacgrg
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