From Manali to Shillong and Thiruvananthapuram, 25 ultrarunners participated in India over two days
The IAU 6-Hour Virtual Global Solidarity Run took place as scheduled.
From India, 24 of the originally listed 26 runners ran on the first day (August 29). One participant ran on August 30 while another decided not to participate owing to injury.
Running in Surat, Sandeep Kumar logged the maximum distance among Indian ultrarunners with 79.53 km covered as per provisional data. Bengaluru-based Pranaya Mohanty managed 75.45 km during the stipulated period. The event is non-competitive; there is no official ranking based on mileage. Nupur Singh, running in Manali, turned in the highest mileage among women runners. She covered 70.93 km during the six-hour period. Binay Sah, running in Dwarahat, Uttarakhand, completed a distance of 73 km. Sikandar Lamba of the AFI team covered a distance of 69.26 km during the six-hour period.
Sandeep ran on August 30. His choice of Surat, where he lives, to execute the six hour-run proved beneficial as it was familiar training ground. “ I started well. The weather was pleasant and there was no sun. There were headwinds but there were tailwinds too which helped. I ran from hour to hour instead of focusing on the six hour-period,” he said. The previous day at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, six runners – Pranaya, Santosh, Ashwini, Bindu, Manoj and Velu – had commenced their run at 5AM. “ The first two hours was great as it was dark and cold. We could maintain a good pace. I could cover a distance of 27 km,” Pranaya said. Subsequently, it was a struggle as it was a pretty warm day in Bengaluru.
“ I avoided taking any gels for this run as I wanted to test my body with Maaza, electrolyte, water, Thums Up, Yoga Bar, banana and candies. My nutrition plan worked well but I got a lesson not to drink electrolytes on an empty stomach,” he said. At the end of five hours, Pranaya had covered 64 km. “My body was giving up but I kept running continuously till the end of the six hours. I was able to cover a total distance of 75.45 km,” Pranaya said.
Manali, where Nupur ran, is in the foothills of the Himalaya. It is a place of ascents and descents. “ Around here wherever you go it’s either uphill or downhill. To run for six hours, I planned it downhill, ” Nupur said. She commenced her run from Marhi on the way to Rohtang Pass and ran towards Kullu. The run went very well and as planned for the first four hours; it was evenly paced and controlled. “ I was able to cover 50 km during these hours. The remaining two hours were quite challenging with heat, scorching sun and some rolling hills, ” she said. Given Marhi is at 11,020 feet altitude (source: Wikipedia), the temperature was around four degrees centigrade when she started. It then rose steadily to 36 degrees in Kullu (4196 feet / source: Wikipedia), where she finished. “ Overall it was a beautiful day in the mountains,” Nupur said.
As announced earlier by The Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the runners selected to run for India were: women – Anju Saini, Aparna Choudhary, Ashwini Ganapathi, Bindu Juneja, Darishisha Iangjuh, Deepti Chaudhary, Hemlata, Nupur Singh and Shyamala S; the men’s team includes Abhinav Jha, Amit Kumar, Binay Sah, Geeno Antony, Hemant Singh, Pranaya Mohanty, Sunil Sharma, Suraj Chadha and Tlanding Wahlang.
A second team representing the AFI was also announced. The members of the team for the AFI 6-Hour Solidarity Run were Ajit Singh Narwal, Badal Teotia, Manoj Kuthupady Bhat, Nishu Kumar, Sandeep Kumar, Santosh Gowda, Sikander Lamba and Velu Perumal.
Out of these runners, Tlanding Wahlang, who was slated to participate, opted not to run due to injury, Sunil Chainani, member of the committee appointed by AFI to oversee the selection of Indian ultra-running teams, said.
On August 29, the selected athletes ran in different parts of the country and abroad. For instance, besides the numbers mentioned in Surat, Bengaluru and Manali, Suraj, Hemant, Anju and Deepti ran in Delhi; Geeno ran in Thiruvananathapuram, Darishisha in Shillong, Ajit in USA, Nishu in Surat, Aparna in Jaipur, Abhinav in Vizag, Badal in Bulandshahr, Amit in Panchkula, Sikander in Gurgaon and Hema in Hisar, Haryana.
The virtual run was anchored globally by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU). Following selection by their respective federations, on event day, athletes were expected to record their performance on one of the many platforms like Strava and Garmin. Federations or their nominated team manager would need to verify and check their athletes’ performances and then submit the tabulated results to the IAU. Runners were expected to run at any time in one continuous six-hour block over the weekend of August 29-30.
Provisional mileage (in km) covered by the runners
Anju Saini – 55.2; Aparna Choudhary – 49, Ashwini Ganapathi – 54.18, Bindu Juneja – 64.08, Darishisha Iangjuh – 63, Deepti Chaudhary – 54.2, Hemlata – 42.61, Nupur Singh – 70.93, Shyamala S – 52.43, Abhinav Jha – 50.16, Amit Kumar – 44.5, Binay Sah – 73, Geeno Antony – 60.49, Hemant Singh – 56.15, Pranaya Mohanty – 75.45, Sunil Sharma – 68, Suraj Chadha -58.74, – Ajit Singh Narwal – 53, Badal Teotia – 67, Manoj Kuthupady Bhat – 66.66, Nishu Kumar – 44.02, Santosh Gowda – 62.5, Sikandar Lamba – 69.26, Velu Perumal – 65.31, Sandeep Kumar – 79.53.
(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)