Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bangalore - Ultramarathon 2007

I had a sleepless night and I was anxious for my first 26 km marathon run. First time, I have prepared for a race with a proper plan and I was anxious to no whether my training is going to pay me off. Early morning, I got up at 4:00 a.m. and caught the RFL bus to ONV, Hessarghatta at 4:45 a.m. When we were about to enter the resort, we saw the 52k,78k runners crossing our bus. They were running like of a herd of deers and it was quiet a sight. We waved our hands at them and they were more than glad to reciprocate. The start point was inside a resort - Our Native Village (ONV). The venue ONV was a kind of island with spectacular grassfields around it with nice running trails. A1,A2 gave us an intro-talk about the Ultra, and then we had Mr.Dinesh a 71 yr gentleman and 26K runner flag off the run. He also continued to run amongst us. RFL (Runners for Life) had found a celebrity amongst runners for the flag off and the idea was well received. The race started at 6:00 a.m. and the sound of the thumping feets was more than a music to the ears. 150+ were running the 26 Km run. It included people from all ages and sizes :-). Dada, Dadhi, Nana, Nani, Men, Women, Boys and Girls were all running under one-roof called Ultramarathon. Aid stations were thoughtfully placed every 2.5 kms and the running course was neatly marked with the Km covered and the directions. The aid-stations doubled as cheer band also. The press people were active in photographing us and some enthusiatic runners were carrying cameras themselves. We were running in absolutely no traffic, in a serene natural environment enjoying the wind on the back and sunshine on our face.

[photo courtesy: Bob van Zant] It was the 11 km mark and I checked my ipod for the timing and it read 1h:15mins. Not bad, I said to myself and kept running to the words of Bryan Adams. Music does improve the performance, I had an iPod with playlist of Bryan Adams, James Blunt and Backstreet Boys. The fast beats, placed at the end was to up my speed when I will have drooping shoulders and aching ankles. Believe me, this worked and the music just a cast a magic on me till 21K. It was 2h:36m, when I hit the 21K mark and I was hoping to do the remaining 5k in 35 mins. But, my first marathon had to get adventurous and was soon to become a test of nerves. Running uphill, I realised a pull on the right leg, I was limping for a few metres and soon the left leg muscle announced itself, "I too have a pull". With muscle pulls on the both the legs, limping became impossible. It was time to walk to the next aid-station and get the magic spray on the pain area. After walking and running (read limping) about 2 kms, I reached the aid-station and got a spray. It improved the condition and it was a instant pain reliever, I looked ahead and noticed Mr. Patel and Mr. Dinesh running ahead of me. Mr. Dinesh, 71 yr appeared to be limping too but he had a lion's heart and we was moving toward the finish line which was 2.5 kms away. Mr. Patel, 55+ yrs was in much better shape and was not running, but infact galloping for his next loop whizzing past me, in opposite direction. Inspired by them, I bundled myself and started to run (Yes! I started to run) towards the finish line. I realised why people say marathon is a sport which involves things more to the north of the neck, than south of the hip. Very true. I could see the finish line from 500m. I gathered a bit of pace and was delighted to be at the finish line and checked my time (3h:26m). After I finished, I turned back after hearing huge applause. Mr. Dinesh was going to cross the line. Yes, he was close on my heels and what seperated us was a mere 30 secs. Age is no barrier, his smiles conveyed. Yes, a pristine truth.

Some stats from the Race:
1. 26k race was won by Joseph King??. He clocked 1h:46m
2. 52k race was won by Paul Hemson, 48 yr old, who finished the race in 4h:25m.
3. 150+ ppl ran the 26k
4. 70+ ppl ran the 52k
5. 15 ppl ran the 78k
6. One person ran the 104k
7. Ms.Nischal completed her first 78k run. An awesome feat.
8. Dr.Rajat ran from sunrise to sunset and finished 104k. Believe it I saw it ;-)

Manjunatha my colleague finished 6th in the 26K run with a timing of 2h:28m
His Brother Vishwanath finished 26k run with a timing of 2h:43m
Manohar, my colleague finished 26k run with a timing of 2h:57m
Balu, my cycling friend finished 52k run with a timing of 5h:57m

We all received 2 things in common at the finish line, pain on the legs and smile on the face. Afterall, finishing is the spirit of marathon and we were finishers and not quitters.

A million thanks to RFL Club, the Support team, ONV resort, Manipal Hospital, All our sponspors - Gatorade: you kept us going, Addidas: the climalite worked magic, G.K.Vale:for the wonderful mementos, Kingfisher: this time you helped us with water :-), all those whose cheered us by the sidelines and all the runners. I my hooked and I am looking forward to the next Ultra.