The men’s teams: (from left) – Chinese Taipei, India and Australia (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)

Indian men’s team wins gold, women take silver

Indian men sweep individual medals

Amar Singh Devanda, Anju Saini rewrite national bests

Ultrarunners Amar Singh Devanda and Anju Saini broke the men’s and women’s national best in the 24-hour run category at the IAU 24-Hour Asia & Oceania Championships that was held in Bengaluru over July 2-3, 2022.

The Indian men’s team won the gold and the women’s team the silver in the competition that concluded at 8 AM on Sunday, July 3. Indian runners also swept the podium in the individual category in the men’s section.

Amar Singh Devanda, running strong from the start of the 12-hour run at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, surpassed the national best of 250.37 kilometres set by Ullas Narayana at the IAU 24-Hour Asia & Oceania Championships at Taipei in December 2018.

Amar first bettered his own personal best of 240.8 km (also a national best on Indian soil) and then went on to set the new national best of 258.418 km.

Later, Anju Saini, who was the race leader from among Indian women, set a new national best of 204.314 km, surpassing the previous national best of 202.212 km set by Apoorva Chaudhary at the IAU 24-Hour World Championships held at Albi, France in October 2019.

The women’s teams: (from left) – Chinese Taipei, Australia and India (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)

The Indian men won the team championships with a combined distance of 739.959 km (the aggregate of the mileage of its top three runners). Australia won the silver with a cumulative distance of 628.405 km and Chinese Taipei the bronze with a distance of 563.591 km.

In the women’s team event, Australia won the gold, India the silver and Chinese Taipei the bronze.

In the individual men’s race, Amar Singh Devanda won the gold, Saurav Kumar Ranjan got the silver (242.564 km) and Geeno Antony the bronze (238.977 km).

In the individual women’s race, Kuan-Ju Lin from Chinese Taipei won the gold covering a distance of 216.877 km. Cassie Cohen of Australia won the silver with a distance of 214.990 km and her compatriot Allicia-Grace Heron won the bronze with a distance of 211.442 km. In terms of team mileage in the women’s category, Australia logged 607.630 km, India – 570.700 km and Chinese Taipei – 529.082 km.

Among Indian women, Anju Saini was followed by Shashi Mehta (182.8 km) and Asha Singh (179.6 km).

Anju Saini (Photo: Shyam G Menon)
Amar Singh Devanda (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

The 24-hour race commenced at 8 AM on July 2, 2022 and concluded at 8 AM on July 3, 2022. “ Weather conditions during the daylight hours of the first day were not very conducive,” Asha Singh, said. According to her, the cool breeze of the night hours helped.

While overall the weather was good, the heat and the humidity of the initial hours of the race impacted digestion, leading to stomach issues for some of the runners. Preeti Lala said she had a tough morning but subsequently settled to a steady pace. Race nutrition and the right types of food to ingest during a race have always been among challenges in ultrarunning. Adding to the challenge is how this is couched in a basket of variables, among them weather conditions.

Joanna (Joasia) Zakrzewski of United Kingdom won the gold in the women’s 24-hour open category. In silver position was Trupti Chavan from Maharashtra.

Kuan-Ju Lin (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

In the men’s open category of the 24-hour race, the winner was Poland’s Tomasz Pawlowski.

In the 12-hour women’s race, Balbinder Kaur was the winner with a distance of 96.798 km. Bindu Juneja took second position covering a distance of 94.608 km. In the men’s race, the winner was Harikumar K. L with a distance of 115.632 km covered. He was followed by Charudutt Mishra in second position (112.128 km) and Pritam Rai in third position (109.5).

The cheering at the event came in for praise from the participating runners. Encouragement matters in the marathon and ultramarathon, both of which test endurance.

The next IAU 24-Hour Asia & Oceania Championships will be held two years down the line in Canberra, Australia. Bengaluru meanwhile, will gear up to host the IAU 100K Asia & Oceania Championships in 2023.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai. Please note that this article has been updated to reflect the latest mileage data [individual and team for the top three in each gender category] as available in IAU’s press statement dated July 4, 2022. Anju Saini’s mileage is as available on NEB Sports’ Facebook page.)

Presenting some more photos:

Saurav Kumar Ranjan (Photo: Shyam G Menon)
The runners from Chinese Taipei (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Shashi Mehta (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)
Joanna (Joasia) Zakrzewski / 24h open category (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)
Geeno Antony (Photo: Shyam G Menon)
Harikumar K. L / 12h (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)
Trupti Chavan / 24h open category (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)
Nikki Wynd (Photo: Shyam G Menon)
Stephen Redfern and Daniel Symonds (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)

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