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23 Oct 2017

Run, bond and make friends in a fun way!

Founded by Gerrard Lin and Wan Jiawei, Run Pilgrim is an events company that aims to encourage Singaporeans to run and have a good time. So far, they have come up with quirky themed runs such as the Teh Tarik Run and the Durian Run that saw its third edition this year. We spoke to Gerrard, one half of the team behind the wacky initiative.

1. What is Run Pilgrim and how did it come about?
We are an events company that is trying to get people to run for a higher purpose. Our target audience is the general public and we want to inspire continual healthy living. When we decide on an event, it is always for the participants to have fun, not lose money and do good. If these three things are ticked, then we are good to go.

Jiawei and I are quite serious runners. We have done 50 days of 50km a day. We even ran from Thailand to Singapore. Before my first marathon in 2012, I never ran more than 2.4km because that’s the only distance that I needed to do for IPPT. Journeying from then until now, I realised that running is such a good platform to do good and that’s why we decided to organise something less commercialised and more about our own local culture. So that got us thinking and we came up with the Teh Tarik Run.

2. What is the Teh Tarik Run?
For the Teh Tarik Run, runners have to hold the tik gong – the milk tin – when they run. They would drink hot Teh Tarik before they run each round of 1km and it doesn’t matter if they run and drink, or drink on the spot. What we tell them is to just have a day of Teh Tarik fun amongst family and friends because we wanted to celebrate Teh Tarik. Come to think of it, it’s a crazy thing because I was at the run and I thought to myself that we are indeed quite crazy.

The run was around $38, including race pack. The reason why it is priced as such is because we feel that running is getting a bit too commercialised, and so we try to balance between the commercial and social aspects.

3. Why Teh Tarik?
Teh Tarik transcends race, language, class or creed. It is a common drink and almost everyone would have drank it before. Initially we were thinking about having a beer run, but then that would exclude a big segment of our Malay friends. So we wondered, what’s the drink that really unites people? After much thinking, we concluded that Teh Tarik meets the fit as that universal drink. Having a Teh Tarik run was our way of using subtle messages to let people realise that running is actually fun. We also wanted to be inclusive by getting everyone to come and run together.

All this is part of our local heritage and culture and we are trying to promote it in such a way. When I was young, people used the milk tin cans to dabao (take away) their kopi, but nowadays you hardly see it. This is our way of bringing back some of those memories. 

Run pilgrim

Run pilgrim

Run pilgrim

Run pilgrim

4. What about the Durian Run?
The Durian Run is basically a run where each runner will be given a durian to run with. At the end of it, they get to decide what to do with the durian.

People worry if they will get hurt but we tell them to get creative. For us, we will be providing gloves, newspaper and plastic bags. But it’s really up to them to decide how they want to do it. It makes it fun when you are in control.

5. What are some of the challenges that you have faced and what drives you to press on despite them?
It’s a big challenge trying to get funds. Every day we are brainstorming on how to get sponsors and you never know who might be your typical funders. In the commercial sphere, sponsors always wonder what they will get in return if they sponsor us. We also had doubts from people. For example, people worried if they would be full from drinking the Teh Tarik. We had to overcome all these with very creative ways to get our messages out.

Sometimes I’m glad that I don’t have funding, because it makes me think out of the box. One example is our medal for the Teh Tarik Run. To make the medal, we used the milk tin can and stuck a sticker around it with gold emboss and people thought that it was fantastic. That idea came about because we didn’t want to spend too much money on the medal.

At times I ask myself why I’m doing this. It’s very cliché but when you want to give up, you have to go to the starting point and think why you embarked on it then. There’s always this point where you want to stop. But when you stop, there is nothing for you to work towards to already.

6. What is one piece of advice you have for Singaporeans who are aspiring to make an impact our community?
You just need to start doing it. If you think that your idea is good, just go and do it. When you’re initiating the idea, you are miles ahead of others already. And that impact will come. Not tomorrow, but maybe in the next half a year, 18 months’ time or 5 years’ time.

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