June 18, 2016, 4:00am, I woke up with a great determination and by 10p.m. went to bed with an epic satisfaction. Yes, I had registered for the 70km ‘GET SET RUNN-Tuffman Shimla Ultra 2.0’ and as a journalist was also covering the event. I registered for such an event as I realized that it was time for me to dare and endure and come out of my comfort zone.
The race kicked off at 5:45 a.m. and there were around 45 athletes in my category. At an average elevation of 2,146 m, the race track at Mashobra, a town in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh was amazingly beautiful. We started with two kms of elevation, followed by plains and some 12 kms descent. I was very much at ease in finishing the first lap of 35 kms in about five hours. The pleasant weather also added to my running ecstasy.
But the real test began in the second lap when my legs almost gave up 17 kms away from the finish line. One really needs strong will power and determination.
It is said that your body can stand almost anything but it’s your mind that you have to convince. The same case was with me, I was able to convince my mind to shove my body and that made all the difference. I had made up my mind that whether I walk, jog, run or crawl but I have to finish the race.
I remember chanting Tibetan Mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum) praying for some energy. I was eagerly waiting for the next water station and the finishing line. I also met many runners on the way who gave me hi-fives and motivated me to finish the race. The biggest inspiration of all the runners were Col. Saurabh Singh Shekhawat (Army officer who has conquered Mt. Everest thrice) and Delhi-based International ultra marathon runner Arun Bhardwaj. Being an amateur runner, I felt so privileged to run with them.
In fact, if I go back to my running story, it all started when I was 14 years old. In school I use to play basket ball, football, and use to love goal keeping. But one can say I was jack of all trades and master of none. In simple words, I was not good professionally at any sports. I always wanted to be involved in sports as it teaches you lot of things in life. So, I used to run a lot religiously every evening, sometimes alone, sometimes with a running buddy.
Slowly, I started taking part in Marathons while in college and my latest run was Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in January which I finished in 4 hour 8 minutes.
But, running in the mountains was a completely different story. I have one advice for people planning to run a marathon. We should run from our heart and mind than our feet. To be honest, I have a 9 to 5 job in Delhi and taking time off for running in the extreme hot and cold weather of the city makes me go crazy. But yes, I do run on treadmill every time I hit the gym and people stare at me thinking I am crazy to run so fast. I had practiced for a month at Delhi’s Nehru Park, running sometimes 10 kms to sometimes 38 kms, but it is always better to practice in the mountains for such a marathon.
So I finally crossed the finishing line of this ultra marathon in exactly 12 hours 58 minutes (two minutes ahead of cut-off time of 13 hours). The feeling was epic, I felt like I was about to reach Everest or I have already reached the summit. Also, people congratulating you made me feel on top of the world.
I am not hoping to change the world or India overnight with my runs, but yes, perhaps, someone inspired me and I am here to inspire others. I just want to give message to people around that yes, one person can make a difference and there is no limit to what you can achieve in life. My friends or family may think I am a lunatic for running such distances or a crazy person for scaling mountains, but, it’s imperative to chase one’s passion and dreams. And most important of all, the challenge to run such distances in the mountains motivates you, tests your endurance level. It also made me realize who I am and what I am capable of …………………………