Monthly Archives: April 2015

Marathons: Reborn to Run

anandJust finished reading “Reborn to Run” by Anand Anantharaman, it narrates his marathon running experience in all the seven continents and also the North Pole all that after suffering a coronary heart disease. Anand has beautifully juxtaposed legends about the places that he has run with his running exploits and he has run on some exotic locales around the world such as Siberia, Great Australian Outback, Galapagos, Athens, Borneo, Great Wall and of course the North Pole and Antartica. The book tells us that the mother earth is such a beautiful place and running of course is one of the most beautiful sports where for one chunk of five to six hours, people from all walks of life, caste and creed come together in a common exploit and help each other along the way forgetting their differences. Running in all these places all alone and most certainly the lone Indian requires some courage which was especially useful during his sojourn in Siberian wildness. The narrative is good and easy, would recommend to anybody who is an endurance sportsperson, a runner, ultra runner or wannabe runner.

Paths of Glory

As the Everest climbing season begins, I am posting here a review of a book which i had read a couple of years ago. Since running is as much an endurance sport as mountaineering which is the ultimate endurance test of all time, especially climbing the Himalayas, i am taking this liberty of posting the book review of “Paths of Glory”. This book is about the story of George Mallory, who is perhaps the first ever person to climb the summit at the Mount Everest way back in 1924 but the tragedy is that he never returned back. His body was later found in 1999. The summit is supposed to be considered as successful only if the climber returns back to the base camp after going to the summit. That was probably the tragedy of George Mallory, brilliant climber brilliantly bought to life by the exhilarating narrative of Jeffrey Archer. A must read for all adventure aficionados.

Kundalika River Marathon 2015 –Tough terrain, challenging conditions, superb organization, beautiful nature

They say if you want to win something, run 100 meters. But, if you want to experience something, run a marathon. After running several 10k races in good time, it was time I ran a half marathon, a distance of 21 km. So I jumped at the sight of this event, Kundalika river marathon, a run in the lap of nature besides the river is like balm for the soul.
It was an evening marathon which started at 4.30 pm and after just 2 km, began to feel the effects of killer heat at 36 degrees and peak suffocating humidity. The terrain was hilly with steep 45 degree slopes, ups and downs throughout which make running a real test of endurance. Started this race with an intention of achieving a sub 2 hours time and in the first 3 or 4 km realized that this was unachievable. Never run before in such demanding unfavourable conditions with back-breaking elevation. Running at top speed was just not possible and I knew if I want to target a time of sub 2.5 hours, I had to consistently maintain the motion of my legs. Though the slopes forced most of us to walk, on downward slopes we could accelerate a little. People were fatigued and drenched in sweat, exhaustion written large on their face.
To talk about myself, I just said to myself, “Don’t quit. Just push on. Don’t think about the miles that lie ahead, but only the next step. If you can do this, you will soon reach the finish and what a finish it will be.” So just carried on despite all the odds, felt fatigued and challenged. Throat was parched and dry. Was drinking water at every 1 km stop and pouring water to cool somewhat my heated body. The soles of my feet were burning with the heat generated by running in this hot sultry weather. But, irrespective of it, I carried on and also with a target to complete it in 2.5 hours.

My only main inspiration was the fact and my self-belief that the human body may have limitations, but the human spirit is boundless. I can do it and its this CAN DO, WILL DO attitude that made me forget about the distance that lies ahead and just disconnected from all thoughts, lowered my head and put one foot in front of another and run like my life depends on it.

Let me talk about the event organization. It was superb and flawless. Water and enerzal stations at every 0.5 to 1 K ensured that we were able to run in these conditions. Many firsts about this event like a zumba style warmup and cooldown before and after the race. The zumba was really terrific and made me blast out from the start. Dance after the run was awesome. The volunteers were simply amazing, always cheering and encouraging and spraying water at every half a kilometre. At 2-3 kilometres, they were playing dhols to pump us up and it helped a lot. Their genuineness touched me and other runners as they really wanted everyone to just go all out and finish, defying all the odds.

Post run woww…there was a heavenly rain shower waiting for us, just got drenched and felt like it washed away most of my pain and fatigue. It was simply divine. They also had provided big ice blocks on which we laid our tired legs and entire body and that felt so good, a great way to remove the soreness and aid in recovery after running 21 kilometres on steep inclines in terrible heat. Last but not the least, the personal touch of the organizers who personally asked and insisted that I enjoy the rain shower and the lovely ice block treatment. All other participants were also touched by this personal caring attitude of Nikhil Shah and other organizers.

This run taught me laser sharp focus….just get on with the job….stretch your potential and you can do magic. The biggest competition was with myself celebrex for pain. ….doing more with each step…..ignoring the inner voice that says its tough, its excruciating…what the hell…..Damn, We are much bigger than any obstacle. A lesson in living it was… to forget the miles that lie ahead of you….but to just narrow down your focus to the next 10 metres n then the next and so on …

When I finally reached the finish, I cried with the incredible joy of fulfilment, cried a lot, yes it was a deeply emotional experience on reaching the finish, a life-altering experience.

Guyz, this is a marathon which everyone must do for its toughness because the human body has its limits, but the human spirit is insurmountable. Just go on to do whatever it takes, glory awaits you at the finish line……you are capable of so much more than you have ever imagined.

Thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone minutes after the race…the pain in your legs in days…..but the glory of your finish will last forever

Surely go for this event next year….it will leave its deep imprint on you.

Why we Run?

Just finished reading a fascinating book “Why we Run” by Bernd Heimrich. Biologist, award-winning nature writer and ultramarathoner Bernd Heimrich explores the anthropological, biological and psychological side of ultraendurance and dovetails the narrative with his own running efforts including running and winning an ultra-marathon 100 kms event – lots of insights into the sport of long distance running. Must read for all long distance runners.

Kundalika River Half Marathon – tough course, awesome organisation

Kundalika River Half Marathon (KRHM) is one of the toughest half marathons in the country. It is an unusual half marathon in the sense that it is an evening half marathon, the first of its kind in the country. There are night marathons of course in various places like Surat, Bangalore etc. But this marathon starts even when the sun is still not down.

KRHM is held in Kolad village which is about 110 kms from Mumbai off the Mumbai Goa Highway. If you are travelling from Mumbai then you need to take the Mumbai Pune Expressway, take the Khopoli exit go past Pali village, go past Durtoli Phata and take a left into Kamat village, a small sleepy village with little inhabitants.

The speciality of KRHM is not just the marathon, but other activities such as river rafting, kayaking, zipline, rope laddering, tarzan swing etc. So the idea to hold it in summer is fine with the entire family having a nice time together. Kundalika River flows nearby and since the river rafting and kayaking can take place only in the morning hours before the Mulshi Dam river is freed, therefore the idea to hold an evening marathon. Something for everybody in the family.

KRHM started at 4.30 p.m. when the sun was still blazing down, humidity levels were murderously high. It is an undulating route throughout but at the start itself there is a steep down slope where you have to be careful with the footing in order not to fall down. Thereafter after about 2.5 kms there is a mud & rock track which has a steep incline much like a mountainous track. This steep incline left everybody gasping for breath. Thereafter the route is undulating throughout upto 10.5 kms and back. The route takes you through few villages with bougainvillea trees, cactus plants and bamboo shoots enroute. There were a few children more bemused at what the adults were straining and moaning for in their village. They probably could have covered the entire route in a canter. By the time we were on the last few kms, the sun had gone down and the darkness that enveloped the village was stunning to say the least. By now we were running on pure instinct and guts to ensure that none of us stumble and fall.

The KRHM organisers did an extremely wonderful job of providing support to the runners. There was water station at every km, water spray at every half km, bananas, oranges, energy drinks. The kilometre markings were accurate throughout. Post run there was a nice medal, followed by rain dance, ice blocks to cool off the tired soles, dance music for people who still had some energy left and fun galore.

I would recommend this race highly and please go with your family to enjoy the outing to the fullest.

Turbaned Tornado

This book “Turbaned Tornado” is a biography of the famous Indian marathoner who ran a marathon at 100 years, Fauja Singh. The writer Kushwant Singh is not the same famous Indian journalist and writer of the same name. It is a nice narrative of the early life of Fauja Singh, how he travelled to London after the death of his loving wife and started running marathons at the age of 89 when most of us would rather be more comfortable walking with a stick!! Fauja is an indomitable spirit and his farmers’ genes help him in becoming a rare sportsman and brand ambassador more famous than some sportspersons three or four generations younger than him. His timing of 5.20 hours at the age of 94 is the stuff made of legends. Fauja Singh is truly a great sportsman of India and reading his biography is very refreshing.

Running on Empty

Just finished reading Marshall Ulrich’s book “Running on Empty” – his story of love, loss and a record setting run across America. This guy is a true ultra marathoner nut in the sense that he has incredible feats under his belt like finishing Badwater Marathon 18 times, winning it four times, and then doing the Badwater route solo i.e. without any team, but only with all his supplies in a cart that weighed 200 pounds, Badwater Quad which is like utter crazy – doing badwater four times back to back. Who can attempt such crazy ultra running feats. His ultra running or rather his running started with the loss of his first wife to cancer when he used to run to escape the depression and thereafter running became a lifelong passion. He has also some mountaineering feats up his sleeve like summiting the tallest summit in each continent and also ascending the Mount Everest.

So it was to be a culmination of his running career by running across America, starting from San francisco to New York a total distance of 3063 miles in 46 days at the age of 57. The previous person to have covered America thus was a 27 year old Frank Gianino about 28 years ago. It involved Marshall running 2 marathons plus 10K every day across terrain and weather that varied from state to state from heat to cold, snow, rains and all. It led to a process of discovery within himself and brought his family close together. The daily travails of running coupled with diet, nutrition, injury, illness, exhaustion, plus the logistics of daily runs are not given in much detail but the reader can very comprehend what it must have taken for the crew to get this runner across America. At the beginning Charlie Engle who ran across the Sahara desert accompanied Marshall during his run but somewhere approximately half way through a fight broke out between the two and Charlie quit and then came to crew and there were recriminations with the original crew which included Marshall’s wife. So it is a kind of an eye-opener as to what really transpires in all these multi day ultra marathons. Read it to see whether he manages to break the record of Frank Gianino. Nice read for running fans. There was a movie made out of it “Running America” but could only find a trailer on youtube for it.