“To me, ultra running is about love and positive spirit. It is not so much the running and the pinnacles you tick off, it is the way you go about reaching your destination. What you leave behind as legacy for your friends, family, children and even grandchildren, is NOT your records, distances, medals, but the person you were and the way you treated others around you.”

I read these words from my coach, Santhosh, on the morning of my 48 hour run. It was the biggest challenge that I had undertaken and naturally, I was feeling a bit nervous. I have been steadily scaling my running distances from 42km marathons to 50, 75, 100, 125, 150kms over the last few years. The 150kms that was my previous highest took me 36 hours of running. A 48 hour Challenge is a different beast altogether.

We (my running friends and I) had done some intense trainings for this Run, including night runs, heat trainings, hill runs, speed runs…etc. We had trained for 6/12/6 hours over Friday, Saturday and twice on Sunday. Our longest training was a 20 hour run, starting on Friday evening and ending on Saturday afternoon, followed by another 10 hours on Sunday. Hence we had done a maximum training of 30 hours. In terms of weekly mileage, we were running more than 100kms per week

Race Day-28th July, 2017– I am brimming with confidence and strength. At the same time, a little uneasy as 48 hours of running is daunting. The organizers had made it mandatory for every runner to rest for at least 4-6 hours in the 48 hours. This is a health precaution taken by the organizers. My race plan was created accordingly.

I read a beautiful mail written to all of us by our coach.

“We will step out not to see who is stronger, we will step out not to see who goes longest, we will step out not to see who is fastest…. let’s step out to be together and cherish this friendship! Let’s cherish this wonderful community. Running is a beautiful experience that brings the best in us. It helps us to learn to forgive, to soak in all troubles, yet smile…”

And there I was at the start line in Kanteerva stadium at 6pm on Friday, 28th July. On the first night things went like clockwork until 4am, despite the crazy rains that night. We had a 2 hour thunderstorm in which we ran non-stop.  Running in the rain is so pleasurable. I enjoyed every minute of it. Despite changing our socks and shoes, I could feel the blisters growing under my feet by early morning. I went for my scheduled break at 4am but could not sleep. Loud music was blaring out of the PA system, people were talking loudly in the room and a 100 watt flash bulb was beating down on my face. I gave up and was back on the track by 5.10 am, without having slept at all

I trudged on and I reached 75 Km by 8.30 am. Things were going as planned. As in every ultra, my stomach had turned queasy. Not much fuel was going into me and my pace started dropping. Meanwhile the sun was out in full force by 10 am. It beat down on us mercilessly till 5 pm. To keep my mind off the heat and fatigue, I turned my attention to the relay runners in the stadium. Somehow I managed to trudge on till 1 pm. By now my body was craving for some rest. I took my planned 1 hour break in the afternoon a bit earlier. Once again, I could not sleep more than 20 minutes as there were some loud drummers who were right outside the sleeping area. No idea who they were trying to motivate. Once again, I was back on the track by 1.40 pm having achieved barely a 10 minute nap.

The time between 2pm-11pm of Saturday was the worst stretch of my run. I was fatigued with the heat and the fact that I had not eaten much due to a queasy stomach. But our trainings held me in good stead and I kept running on. I tried recalling Santhosh’s words of the morning,

There are going to be many instances on Friday, Saturday or Sunday when you might wonder if you can do this. When you wonder if it is worth it, when you wonder if you are cut out for this, when you wonder if you can carry on…. Yes, it can be difficult. Yes, it can be ruthless. Yes, it can be worse than what you expected. But, you are better. You are water. You can adapt and flow anywhere…

By 11pm I was close to 128Kms. This was 29 hours into the Run. I had another 19 hours to go. Santhosh asked me to take an early break and be back on the tracks by 3pm. I managed to sleep decently, thereby completing the 6 hour scheduled rest in the 48 hours.

3am – 3pm of Sunday was the highlight of my race. I was surprised at my own consistency and strength. This, despite the stomach issues and huge blisters under the feet. I was on a high. I was close to 184kms by 3 pm. My son Sidharth, was planting kisses on my cheek and egging me on for the 200 Km goal. I was hugely fatigued but I was on target.

Then struck a calf cramp, the likes of which I have not experienced before. By the time I lay down on the bed in the resting area, they had to hold down my legs while Susan (contours) tried hard to massage them with ice. I was screaming with pain. I started to despair about my 200 Km goal. It was so near, yet so far.

Once the cramps settled down, I was back on the track again. With some running and some walking, I managed to complete my 201km at 5.20pm, with 40 minutes to spare. Once again Susan and Ponkhi, stretched me and massaged my sore back. . At 5.40pm, I joined my friends on the tracks for the last 3 loops. We passed the finish line at 6pm on Sunday, after 48hours, hand-in-hand, battered and bruised but with our heads held high.

While I am elated to have achieved my target, I cannot thank my support team enough, particularly our Contours Physios, Susan and Ponkhi. They, along with family members and dear friends supported me through the 48 hours to achieve my dream distance.

These pictures sum up my sentiments:

“Not all of us can do great things but, we can all do small things, with great love and together we can do something wonderful.”



31 Aug, 2017

News,  Runners Story,  Running,  Women


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