Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Bangalore Ultra Run with Asha Folks Amid Running Demons

The buildup

It was my first Bangalore Ultra and the idea was to do a 25K as I was coming back from an injury. For beginners Ultras typically cover distances greater than your marathon (42K) distances up until 100KM (and beyond sometimes). I was training with Asha folks as I ran my first run for them.

Doc Rajat and Santosh where to do a crazy thing, like run for 24 Hours or 200KM which ever comes first. Later we got a mail from doc that he may not run because of flu and Santosh was up to it. Guess couple of others volunteered to run with Santosh.

AS the Bangalore Ultra starts on 16th Nov from 6.30AM to 6.30PM the idea was to reach the run sight a day earlier and begin on 15th Nov at 6.30PM and end by 6.30PM the next day. Shumit surprised all of us by declaring that he would do a 100K and would accompany Santosh and Doc. This just spruced me to aim for 50K subject to how my leg reacts.

Asha Tent: Our Eldorado

Santosh and I did an easy 5K at cubbon the previous Webnesday and I decided that I'd be up for volunteering and Santosh picked up Shumit and myself in Tata Sumo. We reached on 15th Nov by 4.30PM and soon got into business.

We setup the Asha tent from scratch as it was fun to build it following the manaul for dummies and filled it with all possible paraphernalia that was required for such an event. Santosh' mom and dad were a wonderful company and Aunti had got so many varieties of food and I chipped in with few Aloo phulka rolls. This was just the beginning of so many things to follow. It was a long night.

Gathering Storm

Soon Doc and Anita joined us and by 6PM we were all set. The Three Musketeers were all set with water bottles, lights. Unfortunately Sudhir had his gearbox jammed and could cycle further but was a great company in the tent.

On dot, at 6.30PM all three started for the (epic) run and the RFL guys had already marked the path for the next day event. All that we now had to do was to wait for them to come back as the loop was 6.25 one way, so 12.5KM would be like one and half hour and thereabouts.

I was starting to feel heavy stomach as there was so much food out there. Luckily Anita had some "poha" as a quick starter. Doc had got some loads of breads and his car bonnet had some 10 pair of running shoes (no kidding).

First Break

We had our time sheets ready and in about one hour and forty five minutes the trio turned up. It was dinner time and every one were happy to serve them. After some fueling the runners started again. They had spotted couple of snakes as well.

Soon Gaurav joined us and he cycled with them the rest of the night by providing them support. Make no mistake Gaurav also planned to run 50K the next morning.

The moment they all left we volunteers had a galla time and there was so much food that every visitor to our tent was offered food and many tasted it as well.

Sleep, Snooze, Sleep, Getup and Sleep

Well this is what we precisely followed the entire night. Suhir, Anita, Uncle (Santosh's dad) and I were doing this after the third lap onwards. The were taking about 1 hour and 40 minutes so we had to keep the alarm at for every 1.5 hours. Luckily no mosquitoes and there were some great sleeping bags.

Then somewhere from horizon three-four lights begin to appear and keep moving in a sinusoidal fashion and approaches towards you. They were our runners all glued for refill and begin afresh taking one lap at a time.

This cycle went on till 6AM and now Aunti and Uncle were back fresh to take over. Aunti initially called me "Balasubramanian" and soon she made it "Balu". But the tone with which she used to call was all the more soothing to my ears.

I must have bugged Anitha, Sudhir, Aunti and Uncle with my gibberish and some silly PJs. But guys it was fun !

The Morning of 16th Nov

Sreeram and his wife had come my motorbike around 4.30 in the morning and Sreeram's wife also joined Aunti and Uncle in the tent for support. Soon other Asha runners came by and by 6.30 we all were set for the run.

There were around 300 runners in various categories and it was a very well managed event and planned to perfection.

My Run and Running mates

Soon I was slowly settling to a pace and hit upon Rajesh Vetcha from Hyderabad Runners and Pankaj from Dell. Rajesh Vetcha calls me as "Son of AP (Andhra Pradesh)" and soon we three of us hit rhythm and Rajesh Vetcha took lead in all sorts of topics and 25KM just passed by. As I was aiming 50K I slowed down around 20KM mark and was doing fine up until the 31KM mark.

Now I started to walk and was feeling worn out and had lost all the motivation to run. I just walked the next 6 odd KM and decided to stop at 37.5KM. I could have walked the rest 12.5KM and finished my best ever 50K but decided to save it for next year. One my leg was slowly beginning to hurt and the next is I want to run bulk of my distances and not walk instead. I guess it was a wise decision to stop and tapered for rest of the day.

Massage and Stretching
Luckily Anita pointed me to go to the B2F (Back to Fitness is Doc Rajat's Venture) folks and have massaged and stretched. Thanks folks !

Then I took room keys from Anita and went to room and took a fresh bath. It helped a lot and I had lunch coupons from the RFL guys. Gaurav was also done by then and we had lunch together. It was pretty decent lunch and the only thing that I did was to sleep for the next two hours.

Screw It, Lets Do It

The above pic explains it all. The kind of motivation they all had. Way to go Doc !

The Grand Finish

The time was approaching 6PM now and Santosh and Doc were planning the distances for the next half hour. As the clock slowly ticked we all waited and just about 6.18PM Santosh and Doc finished. Santosh finsihed a mammoth 160KM. These three, Sanotsh, Doc Rajat and Shumit were like Running machines. Running tirelessly can going on and on like the machines and stopping every hour and a half for fuel. It was one long 24 hour !

It was photo session for all of us to get noticed and be part of this elite company. Soon we got the Asha tent down and packed up. Doc was very tired so Sreeram drove Doc's car as I cannot drive a car. So I took Sreeram's motorbike and we all met Bombay Post near Domlur. Had some decent dinner and discussed some topics orthogonal to running.

All in all it were great two days with Asha folks and hope to join you soon for a run again.

Just in case others if you have forgotten to contribute, please do so by going to my Asha support page:

Some of our Pictures are at Picasa:

Thanks to everyone who have supported me for this run. It is primarily you who are the winner !

Keep Miling !

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