Anjali Saraogi receiving her award (Photo: courtesy Anjali)

Ultra-runners, Anjali Saraogi and Ullas Narayana, have won the ultra and trail running awards for 2018-19, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said in a statement today (July 15, 2019).

Kolkata-based Anjali was conferred the female ultra and trail runner award for 2018-19. Ullas, who lives and works in Vancouver, was chosen for the award in the male category.

The Ultra & Trail Running Committee of AFI selected the winners, the statement said.

Anjali’s performance at the IAU 100 kilometre World Championships in Croatia in September 2018 was mentioned as women’s best performance in 100 k event. She had completed the run in nine hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

Ullas’s bronze medal win at the men’s 24-hour run at IAU Asia & Oceanic Championships at Taipei in December 2018 was adjudged the best performance among men in that discipline. He had covered a distance of 250.37 kilometres to win the bronze medal.

Apoorva Chaudhary’s performance at the women’s 24-hour run at the NEB Sports New Delhi Stadium Run in December 2018 was commended as a significant achievement in ultra-running for women. She had covered a distance of 176.8 kilometers, setting a new national best in the discipline.

Surat-based Sandeep Kumar’s performance at the downhill version of the Comrades Marathon in 2018 and Deepak Bandbe’s run in the uphill version of the same event in 2019 were also mentioned as significant achievements. Sandeep Kumar had completed the ultra-marathon in South Africa in seven hours, 29 minutes and 53 seconds. Deepak Bandbe finished the uphill run in seven hours, 43 minutes and 34 seconds.

The highest ITRA rating among Indian ultra-runners was “ 730 general cotation” for Kieren D’Souza.

It was on 15 February 2017 that AFI became a member of the IAU. This paved the way for ultra-runners from India to participate on the international platform of the IAU and ITRA (International Trail Running Association); at the World and Asia & Oceania Championships. Since 2017, the AFI has sent Indian ultra and trail runners to represent the country at the Trail World Championships, the 24 Hour World Championships, the 100 Km World Championships and the 24 Hour Asia & Oceania Championships.

Ullas Narayana at the 2018 IAU Trail World Championship (Photo: courtesy Kieren D’Souza)

It was at the 2018 IAU 24 Hour Asia and Oceania Championships held at Taipei, that India won its first individual and team medal at an international ultra-running event. Ullas Narayana won the bronze medal in 24 Hours and the Indian Team comprising Ullas Narayana, Sunil Sharma and Lallu Meena finished in third spot.

The sport of Ultra Running and Trail Running has been growing rapidly with at least 50 such ultra-running events being organized in the country. A large number of runners are also competitively taking part in international events such as the Spartathlon, Badwater, La Ultra The High, UTMB and Comrades. A couple of domestic ultra-events are drawing up to 750 participants under different categories, a related statement said.

India bids to host international championships

According to the statement, AFI and NEB Sports have invited IAU President Nadeem Khan and Vice President Robert Boyce to consider India as the next destination for holding an International Ultra Running Championship. “ India has bid for hosting the IAU 24 Hour Asia & Oceania Championships in 2020 and the IAU 100 Km Asia and Oceania Championships in 2021,’’ it said.

“ We have received India’s bid to organize continental-level events and I think the facilities we visited in Bangalore are really good. The final decision on hosting IAU 24 Hour Asia & Oceania Championships in 2020 and the IAU 100 Km Asia and Oceania Championships in 2021 in India will be taken by IAU council,’’ the statement quoted the IAU President as saying.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

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