AT A GLANCE / JUNE 2019

P. U. Chitra (This image was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

P. U. Chitra strikes gold in Nijmegen meet, Jinson Johnson sets new national record

P. U. Chitra of India won gold in the women’s 1500m at the Next Generation Athletics Meet in Nijmegen, Netherlands, the media reported Sunday, June 16.

She clocked 4:13:52.

In April 2019, Chitra was in the news for winning the women’s 1500m at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.

In Doha she had registered a timing of 4:14:56.

She had won the women’s 1500m at the 2017 edition of Asian Athletics Championships as well.

Indian athlete Jinson Johnson broke his national record in the men’s 1500m at the Nijmegen meet.

He covered the distance in 3:37:62 to finish sixth in the field.

Ajay Kumar Saroj finished in 3:40:39 to place eleventh.

A wake-up call for India’s city marathons

The world of mass participation marathons in India, took a hit with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) informing that Jyoti Singh had tested positive for a banned substance.

The athlete, who was winner in the women’s elite half marathon at the 2019 New Delhi Marathon, was provisionally suspended on May 14.

On June 17 as news of NADA’s findings appeared in the media (there were athletes from other disciplines too who were in trouble), reports quoting the race organizer said that if the charges are true then Jyoti will lose her medal.

Organizers of mass participation marathons, this blog spoke to, couldn’t recall an earlier instance when the consequence of athletes violating doping norms had been felt in India’s growing city marathon space.

According to them, the NADA comes into the picture at city marathons when elite contingents are due to run and the timings registered are meant to work as proof of eligibility for them to participate at major international events. The New Delhi Marathon falls in this category, as does the Mumbai Marathon and some other leading city marathons / distance running events in India. “ We have close to 1400 marathons in India now and elite teams run at perhaps 30 or so of these events,’’ a senior official at one company that organizes races, said, adding, “ I don’t know enough to comment on whether all the races boasting elite participation test for doping violation. The top races do. ’’ Please note: the numbers mentioned – total number of marathons and one’s hosting elites – is an approximation. Besides elite group as reason to test, there is also another cause for top events requiring dope testing. At top events, some of the prized runners from overseas are already on international testing programs and the commitments they have agreed to, must be met here too.

It is understood that in the case of city marathons, the cost of testing for doping violation, has to be borne by the race organizer.

Morning of June 19, this blog mailed a set of questions to NADA hoping to get a better understanding of their work, in particular how the testing at city marathons works. As of evening June 20, no response had been received. Should response be received, this report will be revised suitably.

Geeno Antony. From the 24/12 hour stadium run held June 2019 in Mumbai (This photo was downloaded from the event’s Facebook page)

Narender Ram wins Mumbai’s 24-hour stadium ultra, Geeno Antony tops 12-hour segment

Narender Ram of Delhi piled on the miles to top the list of runners participating in the 24-hour stadium ultra in Mumbai held on June 15-16, 2019.

He recorded 414 laps covering a distance of 165.6 kilometers during the 24-hour period.

The event was organized by NEB Sports at Mumbai University Stadium.

In the 12-hour segment, Geeno Antony claimed top honors. Geeno recorded a distance of 109.1 k (258 laps). Earlier this year, Geeno had won the men’s 100k race at Hennur Bamboo Ultra.

Amar Shiv Dev finished second in the 24-hour segment with 390 laps covering a distance of 156 kilometers. Devi Prasanth Suresh Shetty finished third with 383 laps and a distance of 153.2 kilometers covered. In the 12-hour segment, Sathish Kumar R finished in second position covering a distance of 102.36k (laps – 242) and Rahim K.S. in third position with a distance of 91.57k (laps – 225).

Among women finishers in the 24-hour segment, Priyanka Bhatt was the winner. She recorded 379 laps covering a distance of 151.6k. She was followed by Apeksha Shah who recorded 292 laps and 116.8k. Yamini Kothari finished third with 199 laps covering a distance of 79.6k.

In the 12-hour segment for women, the winner was Babita Baruwati with a distance of 80.92k (laps – 195). Preeti Lala came in second with a distance of 78.4k (laps – 189) and Sunaina Patel came in third with a distance of 77.19k (laps – 186).

Geraint Thomas injured in crash but cleared for July’s Tour de France

Days after ace cyclist Chris Froome suffered serious injury in a crash, Geraint Thomas – also from Team Ineos – met with a crash during Tour de Swiss on June 17.

He was using the event as final preparation for the upcoming edition of Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas is defending champion at Tour de France. He has also won three world championships and two Olympic gold medals.

Although he was pulled out of Tour de Swiss following Monday’s crash, his injuries were not serious, media reports said. The team’s doctor has since cleared him and he is expected to race at Tour de France.

Tour de France starts on July 6.

World Athletics logo (This image was downloaded from the IAAF website and is being used here for representation purpose only. No copyright infringement intended)

IAAF to change its name, logo

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is set to take on a new name and logo.

The new name, ` World Athletics,’ builds upon the organization’s restructuring and governance reform agenda of the past four years to represent a modern, more creative and positive face for the sport. According to an official statement (dated June 9, 2019) posted on the IAAF website, the IAAF Council approved the global governing body’s new name and logo at the 217th  IAAF Council Meeting which concluded recently in Monaco. The new brand, Council agreed, makes the sport more accessible to a wider audience while giving the global governing body the opportunity to more clearly communicate its mission as the leader of the world’s most participatory sport, the statement said.

“ The hope is that our new brand will help attract and engage a new generation of young people to athletics,’’ it quoted IAAF president Sebastian Coe as saying. The logo design is comprised of three main elements: the ‘W’ of World, which is also a symbol of an athlete’s arms raised in victory; the ‘A’ of Athletics, which also represents an athlete’s focus as they prepare for the road ahead; and an arc over both to represent the entire athletics community coming together. The logo also includes the sweep of a running track which appears in an upward trajectory, symbolizing the desire to continually push beyond limits. The patterns capture the energy present in all four of athletics’ group disciplines: running, jumping, throwing and walking.

The new brand identity will begin its rollout in October after the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 and following Congress’s approval of the change to the Federation’s legal name, the statement said.

The IAAF was originally founded in 1912 as the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

2019 Trail World Championships / Results

Jonathan Albon of Great Britain and France’s Blandine L’Hirondel won the individual titles at the IAU Trail World Championships in Miranda do Corvo, Portugal, on June 8, an official statement available on the website of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said.

Albon took over the lead going up to the highest point of the course early in the second half, stepping up from fourth last year to cross the finish line in 3:35:35. He finished two minutes 13 seconds in front of French runner-up Julien Rancon. Switzerland’s Christan Mathys was third.

L’Hirondel led from early on and came home in 4:06:18, eight minutes 12 seconds clear of New Zealand’s Ruth Croft. Spain’s Sheila Aviles finished third, the statement said.

Albon, who is based in Norway, is now current world champion in trail, ultra skyrunning and obstacle course racing. “It was a great race and the course really suited me,’’ the statement quoted him as saying.

The start of 2019 Comrades from Durban (This photo was downloaded from the event’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose)

Edward Mothibi wins 2019 Comrades, Gerda Steyn sets new course record

Deepak Bandbe is fastest among Indians this year. Satish Gujaran completes his tenth Comrades, gets green number

Edward Mothibi of South Africa won the 94th Comrades Marathon that commenced from Durban on Sunday (June 9).

It was his first win at the event.

He finished the race in five hours, 31 minutes and 33 seconds. He had finished in fourth position in the 2018 edition of the Comrades Marathon.

Gerda Steyn, also of South Africa, broke the women’s record with a timing of 5:58:53 hours in the uphill version of the race. Steyn finished seventeenth overall. The previous record timing of 6:09:23 was set by Russia’s Elena Nurgalieva thirteen years ago.

Mumbai-based Deepak Bandbe was the fastest among runners from India. He covered the 86.83km-distance of the race in 7:43:34 hours. Satish Gujaran, also from Mumbai and running his tenth Comrades completed the race in 10:30:24. He became the first runner from India to secure a green number (permanent bib number), a tradition at Comrades recognizing those running the race ten times.

Bongumusa Mthembu, winner of the 2018 edition of the race, finished second this year with timing of 5:31:58. Nao Kazami ended up in third position with timing of 5:39:16. Among women, Alexandra Morozova (6:17:40) came in second while Caitriona Jennings (6:24:12) finished third.

Everest summit claims questioned

The summit claims of three Indians who were on Everest in the 2019 climbing season have come under the scanner.

The Himalayan Times reported on June 10 that its inquiries showed the three climbers – all from Haryana – had only reached Camp III and not beyond. The report also quoted the managing director of Prestige Adventures Pvt Ltd, the company which managed the expedition the climbers were on, as saying the three had not been to South Col this spring season.

A June 12 report in The Print, said that the Nepal government has started an inquiry and asked the three climbers to provide documentary proof of their claimed successful ascent.

Around two years ago, an Indian couple who claimed to have reached the summit of Everest were found to have faked their claim. For more on Everest and what it has come to mean please read the essay: The World’s Highest Mirror, available on this blog’s list of recent posts. You can also scroll down to access the said article.

Caster Semenya (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose only. No copyright infringement intended)

Caster Semenya case: top court orders temporary suspension of IAAF rule

Caster Semenya, South African athlete and current Olympic champion in the women’s 800m who lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in early May, has come in for temporary relief after the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland ordered the IAAF to suspend its testosterone regulations against her with immediate effect, the international media reported early Tuesday (June 4) morning.

The athlete can now compete in distances spanning 400m to a mile without medication until June 25, by when the IAAF has to respond. In a statement, Semenya thanked the judges for their decision, the reports said.

Under emergent IAAF rules, Semenya, an athlete with differences in sexual development (DSD) was required to take medication to bring down her testosterone level if she wished to continue participating in competitions over distances spanning 400m to a mile. Semenya challenged the IAAF regulation but in early May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ruled in favor of IAAF albeit with reservations. According to a report in The Guardian then, three arbitrators studied the case – IAAF’s policy and Semenya’s appeal against it – for nearly two months. Two of them accepted IAAF’s argument that female athletes with high testosterone level possessed significant advantage in size, strength and power from puberty onward. They felt that IAAF’s policy was reasonable and necessary. A BBC report had mentioned that Cas had “serious concerns as to the future practical application’’ of the regulations. It also said Cas had asked IAAF to consider delaying the application of rules to 1500m and one mile events till more evidence is available.

On May 30, the media reported that Semenya would be taking her case to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland. The legal battle between 28-year-old Caster Semenya and IAAF is being keenly watched by the global sports community.

Swimming to be part of school curriculum in Kerala

The media in Kerala has reported that the state plans to make swimming part of school curriculum. Speaking at a state level school reopening festival held at the government higher secondary school in Chembuchira, Thrissur district on June 6, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government intended to start a swimming pool in each of the 140 assembly segments of the state. Swimming will be made part of the school curriculum, the report quoted him as saying.

National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships postponed

The National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships scheduled for July 14-17 in Kolkata, has been postponed, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) informed in a statement.

A fresh date has not been assigned yet.

The postponement has been attributed to the timing of the event against the backdrop of the 2019 IAAF World Championships due in Doha, Qatar in September. Many of the coaches feel, “ the athletes may not be able to repeat their performances in IAAF World Championships 2019 if National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships is conducted as per schedule,” the AFI statement said.

Mountaineers reported missing on Nanda Devi

This incident is being reported using updates. Please scroll down for updates.

Nanda Devi (Photo: Punit Mehta)

On Saturday June 1, 2019, the media reported that a group of eight climbers including seven foreign nationals, who were on an expedition to Nanda Devi East had failed to return on the appointed date to Base Camp.

Authorities were alerted and a search and rescue team dispatched, the news reports said.

For now, the known facts are that the team had altogether 12 members of which eight – four from UK, two from USA, one each from Australia and India – have been reported missing. A reliable picture will be possible once details are available. Those reported missing (as mentioned in official communication) are expedition leader Martin Moran (UK), John Mclaren (UK), Rupert Whewell (UK), Richard Payne (UK), Ruth McCance (Australia), Anthony Sudekum (USA), Ronald Beimel (USA) and Chetan Pandey, the expedition’s liaison officer from India.

The leader of the expedition, Martin Moran, is a much respected mountain guide. Thanks to his many visits to the Indian Himalaya, he is well known in India including in the Nanda Devi region, where he has led climbs before. A British Mountain Guide since 1985, Moran and his family run Moran Mountain, a mountain adventure company that offers courses, tours, guiding and expeditions in Scotland, Norway, Alps and Himalaya.

Of Nanda Devi’s two summits, the east summit (7434m / 24,390 feet) is the lower one. Unlike the mountain’s main summit, which along with the Nanda Devi sanctuary, is shut to trekking and climbing, the east summit is open to climbers. On May 10, Moran Mountain’s Facebook page posted photos and informed commencement of the expedition to “ Sunanda Devi (7434m) – sister of Nanda and one of India’s toughest.’’ This was followed by pictures on May 11 of the team’s flag-off day at Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), New Delhi. Eleven days later on May 22, it further updated that the Nanda Devi team had reached its “ second base camp at 4870m, their home for the next week. After a recce of the route they will be making a summit attempt on an unclimbed peak at 6477m. ‘’ A previous post indicated awareness of the region having received much snow this past winter and the team being suitably prepared with snow shoes.

In its report on the incident, the Sydney Morning Herald, quoting a senior IMF official, wrote that the expedition’s deputy leader Mark Thomas remained at the second base camp with three others and was in radio contact with those who climbed higher. When he didn’t hear anything from them after May 26, he went up to check and found a single, unoccupied tent and beyond it, evidence of avalanche.

Following the authorities being alerted a helicopter was expected to be pressed into service on Sunday (June 2) morning to assist in the search. One seasoned mountaineer this blog spoke to earlier in the day (ie on June 1) said that the information available so far seemed inadequate and mutually ill-fitting to build a cohesive picture of what may have happened. He advised caution and no jumping to conclusions.

Late night, June 1, British Mountain Guides posted the following message from BMG president Mark Charlton, on their Facebook page: Incident Nanda Devi East: The ‘British Association of Mountain Guides’ (BMG) have been made aware of an incident on or near Nanda Devi East where BMG member, IFMGA Mountain Guide, Martin Moran was leading six clients and an Indian National. The BMG is assisting where possible and is in contact with the Indian authorities. At the moment this is all the information we have as communication is very difficult. We will update this post when more reliable facts have been established.

A while later Moran Mountain put up the following post: On behalf of Moran Mountain, we are working with the authorities and the British Association of Mountain Guides to gather information regarding the Nanda Devi East expedition team. Out of respect for those involved and their families, we will be making no further comments at this time. The BMG will release a further statement as and when more information is available.

Update / June 2: There is no change in status as regards the eight climbers reported missing near Nanda Devi. The four remaining members of the group have been airlifted from their camp near the mountain, to Pithoragarh, the district headquarters.

On the Facebook page of Moran Mountain, the Moran family said (this is an abstract from the larger post): The climbing group had set out to attempt an unclimbed, unnamed summit, Peak 6477m, and the last contact intimated that all was well and a summit bid would be made from a camp at around 5400m.

It is not entirely clear what happened from this point onward or indeed the timeline of events. We do know that a British Mountain Guide who was in the area leading a trekking group, as part of the same expedition, was informed that the climbing group had not returned to base camp as expected. He immediately went on the mountain to search for the missing climbers. There was clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain and it seemed to be on or very near the route that would be taken by the climbing group. The Mountain Guide gave instructions to base camp to alert rescue authorities. The alarm was raised early on Friday morning 31st May.

Today we have been informed by the Indian Mountaineering Federation that an air search by helicopter has revealed the scale of the avalanche but no sign of the climbers, their equipment nor their tents. We are pressing for the search area to be widened and continued until such time as firm evidence is found to ascertain the well being or otherwise of all those in the climbing group.

Update / June 3: In continuing search operations on Monday (June 3) for the eight climbers reported missing near Nanda Devi, aerial photographs clicked by low flying helicopter have revealed five bodies in the snow.

“ We now fear the team may have perished in the avalanche,’’ a senior official of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) told this blog Monday evening. Going by the chronology of events as reported in the media, it is now just over a week since the suspected time of mishap. The last contact / conversation with the team, appears to have been on May 25. They were expected to be back at camp on May 26; that didn’t happen. The authorities were alerted on May 31. By evening June 2, media reports quoted authorities as saying the prospects of finding and rescuing the missing climbers, seemed bleak.

Earlier in the day CNN had reported that a helicopter crew spotted a backpack in the snow on the unnamed peak, the climbers intended to attempt. Coupled with signs of avalanche noticed in previous sorties, this had strengthened the view that the climbers were indeed caught in one. The backpack was at an elevation of around 5500m (roughly 18,045 feet). The CNN report quoted District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande as saying that chances of the climbers surviving are almost zero now. The report also said that adverse weather was hampering search operations.

Monday’s more precise search was possible thanks to four members of the climbing team, who hadn’t ventured up with the others, being airlifted from their camp near the mountain, to Pithoragarh on June 2. The four included Mark Thomas, deputy leader of the expedition, who had gone up to check on his fellow team members upon being informed that they hadn’t returned to camp as scheduled. As per earlier published news reports, Mark had come across an empty tent and signs of avalanche beyond it. The search operation was expected to leverage his insight on potential location of the team and calibrate the search accordingly. Monday’s helicopter sortie had Mark aboard. Also providing inputs was Dhruv Joshi, mountaineer from Almora who had been deputy leader of an expedition to climb Nanda Khat in 2010 and was familiar with the landscape.  For more on the developments of June 3, please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2019/06/03/nanda-devi-east-expedition-five-bodies-spotted/

Update / June 8: According to media reports through the week, adverse weather conditions continued to thwart efforts to land a team by helicopter near Peak 6477 to retrieve the bodies. It is likely that the bodies may have become covered in fresh snow. An official who has kept track of the rescue operations told this blog that indications are, the administration has decided to call off the helicopter sorties. Moves are afoot for a team to hike up to where the bodies lay. Meanwhile 3000 kilometers to the south, the monsoon – already delayed – was expected to make landfall on June 8. In the interlinked world of weather, this could have implications on conditions at altitude too.

Update / June 10: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) has launched an expedition to the Traill Pass area to recover the bodies of climbers sighted earlier during helicopter sorties.

“ Based on permission received from DM (district magistrate) Pithoragarh, IMF has launched a ground search expedition. Fully equipped 12 member-team is headed for the accident site through Pindari glacier. They are expected to reach the area by Saturday,” a senior IMF official informed Monday (June 10) morning.

For a perspective of the train of events leading to this decision, please look up all the posts (up to June 10) related to the missing climbers, on this blog.

Update / June 14: Media reports quoting the District Magistrate of Pithoragarh said that a 32-member team comprising 11 mountaineers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are also heading to the accident spot to retrieve the bodies. The team left for Munsyari on Thursday (June 13). They are expected to be airlifted to “ Nanda Devi second base camp” on Friday, the reports said.

Mont Blanc (Photo: Dinesh Kaigonhalli)

Mont Blanc climbing rules changed

France has changed the rules governing ascent of Mont Blanc (4808.7m / 15,777 feet), Europe’s highest peak.

The media reported on June 2 that people planning to climb the peak via its normal / standard route will now have to book a room at the one of three shelters on the flanks of the mountain if their itinerary included overnight stay. Climbers caught camping on the route risk two years in prison and a stiff fine, the report said.

Mont Blanc attracts almost 25,000 climbers every year and instances of arguments and flaring tempers among teams have been reported. Campaigns to discourage crowds have not worked. Last year 15 climbers died on Mont Blanc, the reports said.

The change to rules follows a deadly May on Everest in far away Nepal, when 11 people died during the 2019 climbing season. The deaths were attributed in the main to too many climbers on the mountain and traffic jams emerging as a result at high altitude causing prolonged exposure to inhospitable environment and compounding strain to climbers.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / MAY 2019

Eliud Kipchoge (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

Kipchoge to attempt sub-2 marathon again

On Tuesday (May 7) the media reported that plans are afoot in the UK for an event in which Kenya’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge will once again attempt breaking the two hour-barrier in the marathon.

This is the second project in the past few years showcasing such an attempt.

Over 2016-2017, Kipchoge was part of Breaking 2, a project sponsored by Nike to run a marathon in under two hours. That run at a Formula One track in Italy saw Kipchoge cover the distance in a time of two hours, 25 seconds (2:00:25), significantly faster than the then prevailing world record. However given the nature and structure of the race, it wasn’t officially recognized as new world record. Breaking 2 had featured three elite runners – Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea – and pacers (30 of the world’s best runners) to keep them on track for targeted timing. The current world record (2:01:39), recognized by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was set later by Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

According to media reports, the latest attempt at sub two hour-marathon is funded by Jim Ratcliffe, the wealthiest man in Britain and chairman of chemicals company, Ineos.

The project has been christened Ineos 1:59 Challenge.

India’s U20 athletes fare well in Eurasian Championships

Indian under-20 (U20) athletes won five gold and three silver medals at the U20 Eurasian Athletics Championships held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 29-30 May 2019.

According to an official statement from Athletics Federation of India (AFI), on day one, Gurvinder Singh clocked 10.42s in the boys 100m to claim gold while Vikrant Panchal with a time of 47.90s in boys 400m, finished first. In the girls 400m final, Florence Barla won the gold medal with a time of 54.73s.

On the final day of the competition, Sreekiran bagged the boys 800m gold with a time of 1:54.62 while RohitYadav added a fifth gold medal to India’s tally finishing on top in the boys javelin throw event with a  performance of 74.55m.

The Indian team comprising Abdul Razak, Priscilla Daniel, Florence Barla and Vikrant Panchal also bagged the 4x400m mixed relay gold with a time of 3:30.58s.

The three silver medals were won by Abdul Razak (boys 400m, 48.80s), Priscilla Daniel (girls 800m, 2:12.43) and Sahil Silwal (boys javelin throw, 72.36m), the statement said.

U20 national teams from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, India and Tajikistan competed in the two-day athletics meet.

Roberta Groner (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Twitter handle. It is being used here for representation purpose only.)

Roberta Groner makes it to US team

Forty one year-old Roberta Groner who is only the third American woman over 40 to run a sub 2:30-marathon has made it to the US team heading to Doha for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships due later this year.

The first six members of the US team was announced on May 31 by USATF, the national federation. According to information available on the website of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Shadrack Biwott, Andrew Epperson and Elkanah Kibet have been named to the men’s team while Kelsey Bruce, Carrie Dimoff and Roberta Groner have been named to the women’s.

This will be Groner’s first national team appearance. In April 2019, she had set her personal best of 2:29:09 in Rotterdam. A profile of her on Runners World mentions that she ran her first major marathon in 2011 – that year’s Chicago Marathon, which she completed in 3:12:42. By the time of that profile in 2017, she had lopped off 42 minutes from the time she took in Chicago. Groner was a runner till age 21 but then took a ten year-break from the sport, from 1999 to 2009. A nurse, she is mother of three children.

Her breakthrough year was 2017, when in December she qualified for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials by placing second at the USATF marathon championship race in California.

Triumph and tragedy at altitude

Kami Rita Sherpa, 49, has climbed Everest for the twenty third time setting a new world record for the most number of successful ascents of the peak by an individual. He achieved the mark in mid-May 2019. The Nepali climber was bettering his own record. In 2017, according to media reports, he had tied with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi at 21 successful ascents achieved. In 2018, he notched up one more to be in a league of his own. Reports said Kami Rita Sherpa has been climbing Everest since 1994.

Pune based-mountaineering club, Giripremi, saw its expedition to Kanchenjunga plant ten climbers on the summit. According to news reports in mid-May, the successful ascent of Kanchenjunga marks seven of the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks climbed by the club. On the other hand, two Indian climbers died on the same peak. Biplab Baidya was on his way down from the summit when he passed away due to high altitude sickness. Kuntal Karar fell sick while attempting to ascend the peak, media reports said. Both passed away at elevation above Camp IV. They were from Kolkata; part of a team from that city. Of the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks, Kanchenjunga – it is India’s highest peak and the world’s third highest – is among the more difficult. Indians died this May on Everest and Makalu too. Weeks after an Indian Army team claimed to have seen footprints of the yeti (there is no credible proof of its existence) on the slopes of Makalu, it lost one of its climbers – Naik Narayan Singh. Media reports said, he died on the descent from Makalu’s summit. On the same peak, Dipankar Ghosh, an experienced Indian mountaineer, was reported missing on the way back from the summit. Reports of the incident published on Saturday (May 18) said that Ghosh hadn’t reached Camp IV as of Thursday night. Same day, the media reported that Ravi Thakur, resident of Gurugram, had passed away at Camp IV on Everest.

On May 23, news appeared that Anjali S. Kulkarni from Mumbai had passed away above Camp IV on Everest. Anjali and her husband, Sharad Kulkarni were returning from the summit, when tragedy struck. Her demise was attributed to the high numbers of climbers trying to reach the summit. It meant more time taken to successfully summit the peak and get back, something potentially dangerous given the hostile conditions that prevail at high altitude. The reports said Anjali couldn’t move on her own and died while guides were bringing her down. Later same day, the media reported that Kalpana Das from Odisha had died above the balcony area on Everest. She fell ill on the descent from the summit and passed away.

Morning of May 24, the website Dream Wanderlust informed that the mortal remains of Dipankar Ghosh and Narayan Singh have been recovered from the slopes of Makalu and brought down to Camp IV on the mountain.

This summary of news reports from the Himalaya is as of May 24.

From 2018 Mumbai Ultra

2019 Mumbai Ultra: registration opens soon, timing chip introduced

The 2019 edition of Mumbai Ultra, the city’s original 12 hour-run, will open for registration in a couple of days, the organizers informed on Tuesday, May 7.

The bulk of the registrations will be done online through You Too Can Run. Entrants will have to submit proof of having run a marathon or any distance longer than that, before. A small number of entries would be permitted through the traditional offline route, Navin Hegde, one of the organizers, said.

From 2018 Mumbai Ultra

From 2018 Mumbai Ultra

Participants will have to make a minimum donation of Rs 1500 towards treatment of pediatric cancer patients. Donors will get 80G certificates.

For the first time since the event commenced in 2014, timing chips will be used this year. The purpose of having the chip is to make the recording of distance covered and time taken, more accurate.

“ This is to bring the event to a professional level,” Navin said, adding, “ for us every finisher is a winner.” One advantage in having properly recorded time and distance is that it can be submitted as part of runner’s resume at other races.

This year, the 12-kilometre loop used for Mumbai Ultra – from Shivaji Park to Worli Sea Face and back in central Mumbai – may be shortened because of the Coastal Road Project that has made portions it off limits. “ We will decide on the exact distance of the loop closer to the event,” Naveen said.

Ever since it started as an annual event, the Mumbai Ultra has been a popular outing for the city’s runners. Besides registered participants, several others turn up to pace their friends and run alongside. They join in at various points of the event’s 12 hour-duration. In 2014, when the Mumbai Ultra made its debut, approximately 150 runners registered to participate. By 2018, registrations were up to around 400. “ This year we are looking to have around 500,” Navin said.

(All the photos used in this report on 2019 Mumbai Ultra were downloaded from the event’s Facebook page.)

Scott Sports India ties up with Kanakia for its road racing team

Scott Sports India, the Swiss producer of bicycles, motorsports gear, sportswear and winter-sports equipment has roped in theme developer, Kanakia Group as principal sponsor for its first ever road racing team in India, Scott Racing Development.

Scott Sports India had announced its plan to launch Scott Racing Development last year.

Under the project – Kanakia Scott Racing Development – the focus will be on both physical and tactical aspects. While the physical emphasis would be on effective training as well as improvement of technique, tactical would focus on developing race strategy and adapting to conditions. In addition, the riders will be guided on understanding performance data to help manage their training and results.

The team will provide riders with the full range of necessary equipment for an elite cyclist as well as complete training under the guidance of Nigel Smith, Head Coach, Kanakia Scott Racing Development Team. The team will be based in Nashik, where they will train full-time as they prepare to participate in 8-10 races in India as well as 2-3 international races, an official statement, issued May 27, 2019, said.

Athlete fails dope test, question mark on Asian medal

On May 22, the media reported that Gomathi Marimuthu who won gold in 800m at the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in April, had failed two dope tests.

Reports said that she failed a dope test at the Doha event. She tested positive for a banned steroid. The same reports also said that it has now emerged she failed a dope test at the Federation Cup held in Patiala in March. According to these reports, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) was slow to communicate the test result from Federation Cup. Had that result been disclosed earlier, the athlete wouldn’t have been in the squad to Doha.

Adille Sumariwala, president, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) confirmed to the media that Gomathi has been provisionally suspended. She can ask for her B sample to be tested.  Should she fail that too, she faces a four year-ban.

The development puts a question mark on her gold medal at the Asian Championships.

Bharat Pannu withdraws from 2019 RAAM

Lt Col Bharat Pannu, who was among Indian cyclists scheduled to participate in the 2019 edition of Race Across America (RAAM), has withdrawn from the event following injury sustained during a training ride in the US. According to a post on his Facebook page, Bharat had a fall on May 20 while training in Borrego Springs, US. He fractured his right clavicle (collar bone). Doctors have recommended surgery to mend the broken clavicle besides bed rest for the next six weeks. It “ rules out my participation in this year’s RAAM,’’ Bharat wrote. His registration for this year’s event will be given a roll-over and considered for inclusion in the 2020 edition of the race. “ After the recommended recovery period of two months, I would like to plan my participation in the upcoming busy ultra-cycling calendar in India,’’ he has said.

The 2019 RAAM is scheduled to take place in June.

Dr Hitendra Mahajan (left) and Dr Mahendra Mahajan (Photo: courtesy Mahendra Mahajan)

Mahajan brothers: countdown to Everest

Nashik based-cyclists and adventurers, Dr Hitendra Mahajan and Dr Mahendra Mahajan, are nearing the final phase of their Sea to Sky expedition, which entails cycling from Mumbai to Kathmandu and then climbing Mount Everest.

On Monday (May 6, 2019) the brothers were in Debouche, resting and recovering from trips to high camps on Everest before returning to the peak for their summit bid. The highest they got to as yet was Camp 3 (around 23,000 feet). “ We are both fine,’’ Dr Mahendra Mahajan told this blog over phone.

The brothers have been in the Everest region for the past few weeks. Earlier, they had commenced their bicycle ride from Mumbai on March 31. They cycled in relay pattern, taking turns to be on the road. A reason for this was that their expedition also included work towards spreading awareness about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). While one brother cycled, the other went ahead to the next scheduled location for CPR workshop and set things up. Between Mumbai and Kathmandu, they did 15 such workshops in all including three in Nepal. Pune based-Force Motors, which has sponsored this expedition and has been a steady supporter of the brothers’ projects, provided two utility vehicles. “ We are grateful to them for the assistance,’’ Mahendra said. The brothers covered the distance from Mumbai to Kathmandu in about a week. They reached the Nepali capital on April 7. With the cycling phase over, the vehicles, support staff and bicycles returned to India.

A day after reaching Kathmandu, the brothers took the flight to Lukla. According to Mahendra, their Everest attempt is as part of a team managed by Kathmandu-based Pioneer Adventure. The team includes Everest aspirants from India, Pakistan, USA and Singapore. They commenced their walk-in to Everest Base Camp (EBC) from Lukla. Along the way, they climbed Island Peak (20,305 feet). After the walk-in and the trips up Everest (highest point reached yet being Camp 3) they descended to Debouche set amid green surroundings at lower altitude to rest and recover.

They were scheduled to spend three days in Debouche. The exact dates of summit bid upon return to Everest depended on weather conditions. “ Camp 2 was very windy,’’ Mahendra recalled. He felt that their summit window should probably be somewhere in the ten days following May 12. “ Both of us plan to attempt the summit,’’ he said.

In 2015, the Mahajan brothers had gathered much attention as the first Indians to complete the 4800km-long Race Across America (RAAM), a punishing cycle race from the west coast of the US to the east. In 2016, they completed a 6000km-ride along India’s highway system called the Golden Quadrilateral. Sea to Sky is their first major project mixing cycling and mountaineering.

Update: The brothers reached the summit of Everest on May 22. An account of this phase is available on this blog; the article is titled: The Mahajan Brothers and May 22 on Everest.

This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of IAAF and is being used here for representation purpose.

Caster Semenya wins at Doha Diamond League / WMA expresses disapproval of IAAF policy

Two days after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) upheld the policy of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) with regard to athletes having differences in sexual development (DSD), Caster Semenya, the South African athlete at the center of it all, won the women’s 800m competition at the 2019 Diamond League in Doha, Qatar.

The IAAF policy is set to take effect from May 8, 2019. The Doha Diamond League event happened on May 3. Running with flawless technique and strategy, Semenya won by a comfortable margin and in her trademark style – composed and showing little sign of having been stretched by competition. She finished in one minute 54.98 seconds. It was her 30th consecutive victory in the discipline. Many believe the 800m competition in Doha may be Semenya’s last run in that discipline as the IAAF policy applies to distances spanning 400m to a mile. While her future course of action is yet to be disclosed Semenya told reporters after the Doha event that she does not intend to take medication to lower testosterone level (as required by IAAF policy) and has no plans to retire following the Cas ruling.

Early morning, May 4, the video of the Doha run – credited to IAAF Diamond League – was available on YouTube. The commentary tracking the athletes’ two laps said it all: (Lap 1) Well they are off and running. We could be watching a little bit of history here. Caster Semenya who has been so, so dominant over the last three to four years just slipped into Doha late on Wednesday evening; caught people by surprise. (Lap 2) Look at that silky smooth, serene style from Caster Semenya, into the home stretch, Semenya on her way to a third year victory here, my word – is there any end to her talent and she is just running away! Is this as some people have suggested, something of an act of defiance given what’s been going on? Look at the clock – 1:54:99; just outside the time of Paris last year but its very, very quick indeed. Very business-like, unemotional. They say that actions are much better than words and I think Caster Semenya expresses that perfectly. She has said very little apart from a few Tweets on social media in the last few days. Once again, she has delivered on the big stage. It has been rounded down – 1:54:98. 

WMA’s view:

Meanwhile the World Medical Association (WMA) has expressed disagreement with the IAAF policy. In a statement posted on its website on May 2, 2019, WMA said: The World Medical Association has reiterated its advice to physicians around the world to take no part in implementing new eligibility regulations for classifying female athletes. It follows today’s decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport supporting IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) regulations requiring women athletes with specific differences in sex development to medically reduce their natural blood testosterone. WMA President Dr. Leonid Eidelman said: ‘We have strong reservations about the ethical validity of these regulations. They are based on weak evidence from a single study, which is currently being widely debated by the scientific community. They are also contrary to a number of key WMA ethical statements and declarations, and as such we are calling for their immediate withdrawal’.

For an overview of the Caster Semenya story, please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2019/05/01/caster-semenya-loses-her-case-against-iaaf/

Appeal in the offing?

On May 14, the international media reported that South Africa’s sports ministry confirmed that the country’s track and field federation – Athletics South Africa (ASA) – will appeal against the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in the Caster Semenya case. ASA was part of the original litigation that saw the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) being challenged for its regulations around testosterone levels in competitions for women in sports. According to international media reports, both ASA and Semenya’s lawyers declined comment on the matter of appeal even as a spokesman for South Africa’s sports ministry said a decision to appeal had been made.

Semenya to move Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland

On May 30, the international media reported that Caster Semenya will be taking her case to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

The athlete said so in a statement.

This follows the earlier rejection of her appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / APRIL 2019

Founder of Satara Hill Half Marathon dies in road accident

News reports today (Sunday, April 28, 2019) said that Dr Sandeep Lele, 48, one of the founders of Satara Hill Half Marathon, passed away in an accident.

The mishap occurred on Saturday morning while Dr Lele was cycling on the Pune-Satara highway. According to one report, the exact nature of the road accident was being investigated as it was unclear if the cyclist was hit by a moving truck or he rammed into a stationary one.

Dr Lele, who sustained injuries to his neck in the accident, was rushed to hospital in Satara but was declared dead on arrival. He was a runner, cyclist and swimmer.

Satara Hill Half Marathon is among best known races in Maharashtra.

Nitendra Singh Rawat (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Impressive line-up for 2019 London Marathon / Nitendra Singh Rawat among those at start line

Kenya’s world record holder in the marathon and London Marathon defending champion Eliud Kipchoge will have fellow countryman Wilson Kipsang and UK’s Mo Farah for company at the start line of the 2019 edition of the event scheduled for April 28.

Kipchoge’s personal best (PB) over the 42 kilometer-distance is 2:01:39; that of Kipsang and Farah – 2:03:13 and 2:05:11 respectively. Others from the start line (as per race information available on the event website) with PBs ranged between Kipchoge and Farah include Ethiopian runners Mosinet Geremew (PB: 2:04:00), Leule Gebrselassie (2:04:02), Tamira Tolat (2:04:06), Mule Wasihun (2:04:37) and Tola Shura Kitata (2:04:49). Among women, defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya (PB: 2:18:31) will be joined by fellow Kenyan runners Mary Keitany (2:17:01), Gladys Cherono (2:18:11) and Brigid Kosgei (2:18:35) at the start line.

Indian elite marathon runner Nitendra Singh Rawat will be one of the participants. He was the winner among Indian elite runners at Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) 2019, finishing the race in 2:15:52 hours. He has a personal best (PB) of 2:15:48. A report in Mid-Day informing of his departure for London said he would be looking to complete the run in 2:12-2:13. According to the report, Procam International – they are the organizers of TMM – have sponsored his passage to London. For more on Nitendra Singh Rawat please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2017/11/13/an-afternoon-in-ranikhet/

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Rohit Yadav sets new under-18 national record

Rohit Yadav placed first in the under-18 age category for boys at the second National Javelin Throw Open Championships held mid-April 2019 at the SAI Regional Center in Sonipat.

According information available on the website of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Rohit unleashed two throws over 81 meters – 81.37m and 81.73m – in the final. His other legal throw was also well past the 73.01m notched up by the athlete placed second.

Earlier at the same event, in the run up to the final, Rohit had set a new under-18 national record with a throw of 81.75m.

Rohit is the son of well-known amateur runner, Sabhajeet Yadav.

For more on Rohit, please try these links:

https://shyamgopan.com/2018/03/09/a-javelin-for-rohit/

https://shyamgopan.com/2018/03/14/rohit-yadav-new-javelin-new-phase/

https://shyamgopan.com/2018/08/01/rohit-yadav-training-abroad-on-the-cards/

Climbers perish in avalanche on Howse Peak

Climbers David Lama, Jess Roskelly and Hansjorg Auer died in an avalanche on Canada’s Howse Peak (10,810 feet).

Members of the Global Athlete Team of The North Face, they were attempting a 3280 feet-climbing route called M16 on the peak’s east face, Outside magazine reported. “ The line is considered one of the most difficult in the area,’’ the magazine said.

The climbers were reported overdue on April 17. Subsequently, officials surveyed the area – it falls in Banff National Park – and found signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing gear.

The bodies of the three climbers were recovered on April 21.

It is believed that they successfully summitted the peak and died on the descent.

India places fourth in medals tally at 2019 Asian Athletics Championships

At the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships held in Doha from April 21-24, India finished fourth in the medals tally with 17 medals overall, including three gold.

While China bagged the most number of medals (29 including nine gold medals), Bahrain took top honors with 22 medals overall including 11 gold.

For India, P. U. Chitra (1500m / women), Gomathi Marimuthu (800n / women) and Tejinder Pal Singh Toor (shotput / men) secured gold. Other medal winners included Sapna Barman (silver / heptathlon); Avinash Sable (silver / 3000m steeplechase / men), Ajay Kumar Saroj (silver / 1500m / men), Gavit Murli Kumar (bronze / 10,000m / men), Jabir Madari Palliyalil (bronze / 400m hurdles / men), Shivpal Singh (silver / javelin throw / men) Dutee Chand (bronze / 200m / women), M. R. Poovamma (bronze / 400m / women), Parul Chaudhuary (bronze / 5000m / women), Sanjivani Jadhav (bronze / 10,000m / women) , Sarita Gayakwad (bronze / 400m hurdles / women) and Annu Rani (silver / javelin throw / women).

Additionally Indian teams secured silver in the women’s 4 x 400m relay and the mixed 4 x 400m relay. The men’s 4 x 400m relay team, which finished second was unfortunately disqualified under rule 163.2 (causing impediment to an athlete by jostling or obstructing), a report on the website of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said.

Overall India won three gold medals, seven silver medals and seven bronze medals at the Doha meet.

Largest ever athletics exhibition commences in Doha

The world’s largest ever athletics exhibition has opened in Doha, Qatar.

According to information available on the website of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the IAAF Heritage World Athletics Championships Exhibition, which opened in the Qatari capital on April 18, is the largest ever of its kind and celebrates the history of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.

The first edition of the championships was held in Helsinki 36 years ago.

Doha is slated to hold the 2019 edition.

The exhibition which opened in the largest shopping mall in Qatar will continue for the next six months and conclude on October 7. During that time Doha will host the Asian Athletics Championships, Doha Diamond League and IAAF World Athletics Championships.

The events are expected to draw athletes, media and fans of the sport to Qatar.

This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Boston Marathon and is being used here for representation purpose only. No copyright infringement intended.

Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono, Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa win Boston Marathon 2019

Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono won the men’s race at the 2019 edition of Boston Marathon in a very tight finish. He crossed the finish line just two seconds ahead of two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa.

Cherono finished the race in two hours, seven minutes and 57 seconds. Desisa finished two seconds later.

Kenneth Kipkemoi finished in third position with a timing of 2:08:07.

In the women’s race, Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia was the winner with a timing of 2:23:31.

In second position was the 2017 champion, Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, with a timing of 2:24:13. American athlete Jordan Hasay came in third at 2:25:20.

Desiree Linden, winner of the 2018 edition of Boston Marathon, came in fifth with a timing of 2:27 hours.

Both, Lawrence Cherono and Workesh Degefa were making their debut at Boston Marathon, media reports said.

Ethiopians win both men’s, women’s races at Paris Marathon

Ethiopia’s Abrha Milaw won the men’s race of Paris Marathon covering the course in two hours, seven minutes and five seconds.

Asefa Mengistu, also of Ethiopia, came in second with a timing of 2:07:25 hours. Defending champion Paul Lonyangata of Kenya finished third with a timing of 2:07:29.

Among women, Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka emerged winner with a timing of 2:22:47. Azmera Gebru finished second (2:22:52) and Azmera Abreha finished third (2:23:35).

According to the organizers, the official number of participants was 49,155.

This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Boston Marathon and is being used here for representation purpose only. No copyright infringement intended.

Over 50 runners from India likely to run 2019 Boston Marathon

Over 50 runners from India have registered to participate in the Boston Marathon this year.

The event is held every year on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday of April.

Begun in 1897, it is the world’s oldest annual marathon and among the most coveted in the six events constituting the World Marathon Majors. The course runs from Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County to Copley Square in Boston.

Entry to Boston Marathon is mostly through qualification on the strength of timing.

The number of Indian participants has been steadily increasing over the years as running and training for the marathon gain popularity in India.

Kartik Joshi, winner 250k, Hennur Bamboo Ultra (This photo was downloaded from the event’s Facebook page)

Kartik Joshi wins 250k race at Hennur Bamboo Ultra

Kartik Joshi was the winner in the men’s 250 kilometer-race at Hennur Bamboo Ultra held at the end of March 2019.

He finished the race in 42 hours, 52 minutes. Two hours later the first runner-up, N.V. Suresh, crossed the finish line (44:56 hours), followed by Manas Ranjan Khilar, who covered the distance in 48:55 hours.

The cut-off for the 250k was 59 hours.

In the 210k men’s category the winner was Manuj Sharma. He completed the run in 33 hours. Ram Ratan Jat finished second with a timing of 39:59 hours and Ashish D. Kasodekar came in third with a timing of 41:31 hours. Among women, Shyamala S was the sole winner, finishing the race in 38:50 hours. Overall, she was second after Manuj Sharma.

The cut-off timing for 210k was 48 hours.

In the 161k men’s category the first three finishers were Vinay Bhushan (29:51 hours), Shailesh Nayak (30:15 hours) and Murali (30:40 hours). Among women, the winners were Soumya (35:12 hours) and Shylaja Arun, who was just one second behind (35:12:01 hours).

The cut-off timing for 161k was 36 hours.

Kamalaksha Rao (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Hennur Bamboo Ultra)

Geeno Antony was the winner of the men’s 100k race, finishing in 11:50:50 hours. Lakhan Meena came in second with a timing of 12:40 hours and Vinay Sharma third in 13:46 hours.

Among women, the winner in 100k was Aparajitha Kavanoori who finished in 17:12 hours. Rashida Bawahir came in second with timing of 19:26 hours and Sneha Samarth came in third with timing of 20:42 hours.

The race is held every year inside the Hennur Bamboo forest.

While the arrangements at the trail-ultra came in for praise, the heat was a spoiler with temperatures touching as high as 41 degrees Celsius, 72 year-old Kamalaksha Rao said. He completed the 100k race within cut-off time.

No finishers at Barkley Marathons for second year in a row

For the second year in a row there were no finishers at Barkley Marathons.

Barkley Marathons, an ultramarathon trail race, is held in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, sometime towards the end of March or early April. The full course is 100 miles or 160 kilometers and runners are required to complete it in 60 hours. Covering 60 miles or 97 kilometers is called “ fun run.’’

Every year, 40 runners attempt the race. Since it began in 1986, only 15 runners have finished it.

In the 2019 edition, none of the 40 participants were able to complete the race.

For more on Barkley, including a first person account of what it is like to attempt it, please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2018/04/05/barkley-2018/

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / MARCH 2019

K. T. Irfan (This is a file photo from an earlier event; image has been cropped for use with this specific article. Photo: AFI Media)

K. T. Irfan becomes first Indian athlete to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Indian race walker, K. T. Irfan completed the 20 kilometer-race walking event at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan, in one hour, 20 minutes and 57 seconds.

Placing fourth in the competition, Irfan, national record holder in 20 kilometer race walking, became the first Indian athlete from the field of athletics, to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics qualification standard for the discipline is one hour, 21 minutes.

The Olympics qualification window for race walking events and the marathon commenced on January 1 this year and will run till May 31, 2020.

Irfan had set the national record when registering his personal best (PB) timing of 1:20.21 hours at the 2012 London Olympics.

“ Mentally, I am feeling relaxed now. It is good that I have achieved the Olympics qualification mark very early in the season. There is more than a year now to train and prepare for the Olympics,’’ Irfan was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

“ Today it was raining constantly here in Nomi and it was cold. I could not warm-up properly because of cold and was a bit slow in the first two laps; else my target was to finish in first three,” he said.

Japan’s Toshikazu Yamanishi was the winner with a timing of 1:17:15 while Kazakhstan’s Georgiy Sheiko (1:20.21) finished second and Korea’s Byeongkwang Choe (1:20:40) secured the third place.

Anu Rani sets new national record in javelin throw

Anu Rani set a new national record in javelin throw at the 23rd Federation Cup in Patiala.

The athlete from Uttar Pradesh threw the javelin to a distance of 62.34 meters, improving upon her own national record of 61.86 meters set at the 2017 edition of the Federation Cup.

Anu Rani, 26, set the latest record of 62.34 meters in her penultimate attempt, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said in a statement. With her national record throw, she also achieved the qualification standard of 61.50 meters required for the IAAF World Championships 2019 to be held in September–October in Doha. Anu Rani’s third throw of 58.35 meters had already qualified her for the Asian Championships.

“ I have thrown over 64m in practice very often. So I was expecting to throw that much in the competition. But I was making some mistakes in my technique. Now that I am going to the Asian Championships, I will try to improve,” Anu Rani was quoted as saying.

Avinash Sable (Photo: AFI Media)

Avinash Sable sets new national record in steeplechase

Avinash Sable smashed the national record in the 3000m men’s steeplechase competition on the final day of the 23rd Federation Cup in Patiala. . The 25-year-old stopped the clock at the athletics track at the National Institute of Sport in 8.28.94 to erase his own national record of 8.29.80 recorded just six months ago in Bhubaneswar.

According to a statement (dated March 18, 2019) available on the website of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Sable’s effort was more than enough to secure him a spot in the upcoming Asian Championships. AFI had set 8.35.00 as qualifying mark for this event. Sable’s time was also good enough to get past the qualification mark for the IAAF World Championship due in Doha over September-October 2019, for which the assigned qualification standard was 8.29.00. Shankar Lal Swami placed second with a time of 8.34.66.

Asian Games gold medalist in the 1500m Jinson Johnson finished first in the discipline at Federation Cup clocking a time of 3.41.67 to finish well under the AFI qualification guideline of 3.46.00 for the Asian Championships. Johnson was followed closely by Uttar Pradesh athlete Ajay Kumar Saroj, who clocked a time of 3.43.57. Also finishing under the AFI qualification guideline was Uttar Pradesh athlete Rahul who stopped the clock at a time of 3.44.94, the statement said.

Arokia Rajiv assured himself of a spot on the Indian team that will travel to the Asian Championships, by winning the men’s 400m race in a time that met the AFI’s qualification guideline. Rajiv produced a mini upset by beating the national record holder Muhammad Anas over the quarter mile. Rajiv clocked a time of 45.73 to finish 0.12 under the AFI qualification standard of 45.85.

Also assuring herself of a spot in the Asian Championships was Swapna Barman, Asian Games gold medalist in the women’s heptathlon. According to the AFI statement, Barman had a relatively slow 800m race to finish her competition but her total of 5901 points was more than enough to meet the AFI qualification guideline of 5800 points.

Five athletes clear 10,000 meters qualifying mark for Asian Championships

Gavit Murali Kumar of Gujarat was winner in the men’s 10,000 meter race at the 23rd Federation Cup held in Patiala. He crossed the finish line in 29.21.99 minutes.

He and four other athletes cleared the qualifying guideline of 29.50.00 in the men’s 10000m race for the Asian Championships, due in Doha in April 2019, ahead of the IAAF World Championships later in the year.

Abhishek Pal of Uttar Pradesh came in second with a time of 29.22.37; the bronze medal went to Kalidas Hirave who clocked 29.25.16. Defending champion G Lakshmanan came fourth with a time of 29.26.41 while Vasudev Nishad came fifth in a time of 29.31.42, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said in a statement. All of them have thus cleared the qualifying mark.

M. Nanjundappa at the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon (Photo: courtesy Nanjundappa)

India’s Nanjundappa finishes ninth at 2019 Jerusalem Marathon

Bengaluru-based M. Nanjundappa finished ninth overall and eighth among men at the Jerusalem Marathon held on March 15, 2019.

He crossed the finish line in two hours, forty-eight minutes and two seconds.

On February 24, 2019, he had participated in the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon and secured third position in his age group of 18-35 years with a timing of 2:38:48.

“ At Jerusalem, the route was very tough with many uphill sections. That’s why my timing suffered. Also, I had run a marathon in New Delhi just over 20 days earlier,” Nanjundappa said.

Karnataka Athletic Association took the initiative to see him participate in this marathon, he said. “ The organizers of the Jerusalem Marathon took very good care of athletes,’’ he said.

Nanjundappa trains under coach, K.C. Kothandapani, in Bengaluru.

M. Nanjundappa at the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon (Photo: courtesy Nanjundappa)

At Jerusalem Marathon, it was a Kenyan sweep in both the men’s and women’s categories of the race.

Kenya’s Nancy Chepngetich Kimaiyo was the winner among women with a timing of 2:44:50. Ronald Kimeli Kurgat, also of Kenya, won the men’s race with a timing of 2:18:47.

“ Approximately 40,000 runners from 80 countries around the world ran a breathtaking route, passing through the Old City walls, the Sultan’s Pool, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Mount Zion, the German Colony, Rehavia, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives and other sites,’’ The Jerusalem Post noted in a report on the marathon.

Photo: courtesy Rahul Jadhav

Former prison inmate does a long run from Mumbai to Delhi; raises awareness about drug de-addiction

Not so long ago, Rahul Jadhav was cooling his heels in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail. Picked up by the police in 2007 and charged under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA), Rahul, during his prison tenure, developed fondness for drugs as well.

Initially out on bail in 2010 and wanting to live a normal life, Rahul however kept getting arrested in other cases. During this phase, he managed to secure a regular job but was forced to abandon it after the cops picked him up again. In 2013, he was finally acquitted of the charges filed against him. Rahul recommenced his search for a job but no employer wanted to hire a former criminal. The disappointment drove him deeper into substance abuse. He also contracted tuberculosis. Finally, his family got him admitted to Muktangan Rehabilitation Center, Pune, to combat the drug addiction. A year later, one of his counselors suggested that he attempt a 10 kilometer-run in Pune.

“ When I started running I understood my capability. I realized that running a marathon and living a life are very similar. The finish line in a marathon is akin to life’s future. You run towards your future,’’ Rahul said. Just as running made him aware of his capability, Rahul began to realize that he should be realistic about his job expectations. While at Muktangan, he used to do various tasks for which he earned a honorarium of thousand rupees per month. He was told that such work would keep his chances of securing a job alive, once he left the institution. That hope also prompted him to improve other aspects of his life. “ I began working on my English and also started reading newspapers to be up to date on news and information,’’ he said.

Photo: courtesy Rahul Jadhav

Meanwhile, running engaged his mind and he continued running long distances. In 2016, the year he started running, he also attempted a full marathon – Pune Running Beyond Myself Marathon – held in October. Journeying alone, Rahul persisted with his distance running. He attempted Mumbai-Khopoli, Mumbai-Pune several times besides other similar distances. In the meantime, he also secured employment at Morde Foods Pvt Ltd. “ I laid my life threadbare before my employers. I realized, there was no point hiding the truth. This helped me get the job,” Rahul said adding that apart from his salary he was also given an allowance to fund his requirements in running. He now works in logistics at the company.

When you break the law and indulge in criminal activity, society shuns you. That happened to Rahul too. He had bridges to rebuild. “ I had to go to my village in Ratnagiri district. I decided to run the distance. I did a Google search and found some lodges where I could spend nights,’’ he said. Strapping a haversack to his back, he ran all the way to his village in Ratnagiri, south west Maharashtra (the Internet estimates the distance from Mumbai to Ratnagiri at 346 kilometers). This run essayed in January 2018, was his gesture of atonement. He was welcomed at his destination, Rahul said.

Fascinated by ultra-distances, Rahul then decided to attempt Mumbai-Kathmandu. Discussing this with a friend from Nepal, he realized that he should ideally attempt a shorter distance. That’s how the idea of running from Gateway of India in Mumbai to India Gate in New Delhi came about. Muktangan stepped in to organize the run with the aim of creating awareness about drug de-addiction. Morde Foods’ owner Harshal Morde contributed to financing the run.

Rahul ran an average of 80 kilometers everyday covering the distance in 19 days and seven hours. “ Most days I ran a distance of 75 kilometers and occasionally, 100 kilometers. One day, I could only run 15 kilometers and had to stop because of injury but I made up later,’’ he said. He completed the run on February 20, 2019. Arun Bhardwaj, India’s best known ultra-runner who is also noted for pioneering the sport in the country, was at the finish line to receive Rahul.

Rahul lives in Kalbadevi, Mumbai. He visits his parents in Dombivili every Sunday.

“ They now sleep peacefully at night,” he said.

Ethiopians win men’s, women’s race in rain drenched Tokyo Marathon

Ethiopians Birhanu Legese and Ruti Aga emerged winners in the men’s and women’s race respectively at the 2019 Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2019.

Birhanu Legese finished in two hours, four minutes and forty-eight seconds. Ruti Aga crossed the finish line in 2:20:40 to win it. Heavy rains marred the race.

Among men, Kenya’s Bedan Karoki came in second with a timing of 2:06:48, exactly two minutes behind the winner. Kenya’s Dickson Chumba, a two-time winner of the Tokyo Marathon, finished third in 2:08:44. Among women, Ethiopians Helen Tola came in second (2:21:01) while Shure Demise (2:21:05) finished third.

New indoor one mile record set by Yomif Kejelcha

Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha set a new indoor one mile world record during the Bruce Lehane Invitational race in Boston early March.

With a timing of 3:47:01, Yomif broke the previously held record of 3:48:45 set way back in 1997 by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj.

Yomif is coached by America’s Alberto Salazar, former long-distance runner and currently track and field coach.

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

Five athletes to represent India at 2019 Trail World Championships in Portugal

Ullas Narayana, winner of India’s first international medal in ultra-running, has been chosen to lead a team of five athletes at the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) Trail World Championships, scheduled to be held at Miranda Do Corvo, Portugal on June 8, 2019.

The team includes Kieren D’Souza, Tlanding Wahlang, Radhey Kumar, Rajasekar Rajendra and Ullas Narayana.

To be eligible, AFI had set norms requiring athletes to have run category-specific races and obtained the specified benchmark – a cotation of 650 (men) and 550 (women) in ITRA Race Category S (45 km – 74 km) or M (75 km to 114 km) in a period of 18 months before the date of the championships and the last date for submission of applications.

Tlanding Wahlang (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Also, the athletes were required to have run an ultra-race in a period up to 12 months before the championships, AFI said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“ I am glad I have made it to the Indian team once again for a top international competition. The level of trail runners is fast improving in India and competition is getting tougher with each passing year. I was also part of the Indian team in 2017 Trail World Championships and it was first world championships for us. I am confident we will have better results compared to last time which is our main target and to keep improving our overall standard at international level in ultra-running,’’ AFI’s statement said quoting Ullas Narayana. He had won a bronze medal at the IAU 24Hr Asia-Oceania Championships in Taipei in December 2018.

The Mahajan brothers – Mahendra (second from left) and Hitendra (third from left) – at the press briefing in Mumbai (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)

Mahajan brothers to commence Sea to Sky expedition on March 31

Dr Hitendra Mahajan and his younger brother Dr Mahendra Mahajan will commence their Sea to Sky expedition on March 31, 2019, from Gateway of India, Mumbai.

The Sea to Sky expedition entails cycling, trekking and mountaineering. The duo will cycle from Mumbai to Kathmandu in Nepal, trek to Everest Base Camp and then attempt Mount Everest.

Way back in 1996, Swedish adventurer, the late Goran Kropp had cycled from Sweden to Nepal, climbed Mount Everest and cycled back part of the way. In 2015, the Mahajan brothers had shot to prominence becoming the first Indians to complete Race Across America (RAAM), widely considered to be one of the most challenging races in ultra-cycling.

The Mahajan brothers’ expedition aims to create awareness about Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). It will have sessions on CPR conducted by Jeevan Sanjivani, Hitendra said at a press conference in Mumbai.

The brothers have estimated the cost of the expedition at Rs 70 lakh and are in the process of raising the money. Force Motors have come in as one of the sponsors of the expedition, offering Rs 10 lakh by way of support.

Starting from Mumbai on March 31, the brothers will have a stop at Nashik. By the end of that day, they are scheduled to reach Dhule in Maharashtra. Among other halts mentioned so were Indore, Kanpur, Lucknow, Basti, Butwal and Bharatpur before crossing the border with Nepal to eventually reach Kathmandu.

The trek to Everest Base Camp is slated to commence on April 8. The team expects to reach base camp in nine days.

After acclimatization, the climb up Mount Everest will start depending on a favorable weather window, Mahendra said.

(For more on the Mahajan brothers please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2018/12/26/mahendra-mahajan-life-before-and-after-2015-raam/)

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

AT A GLANCE / FEBRUARY 2019

2019 Tata Ultra: 50k race; podium finishers from the men’s category (Photo: courtesy Deepak Bandbe)

Anjali Saraogi, Deepak Bandbe win 50k race at 2019 Tata Ultra

Anjali Saraogi and Deepak Bandbe took top honours in the 50 kilometer-race at Tata Ultra Marathon held February 24 in Lonavala.

Kolkata-based Anjali covered the distance in four hours 22 minutes and 50 seconds while Mumbai’s Deepak crossed the finish line in 3:43:06.

“ It was quite a tough race. Until 30k the course was along a road generally going uphill. After that for about 5-6 kilometers it was trail. Weather was not as cool as expected,’’ Deepak said.

He was hoping to better the timing of last year’s winner in the 50k category, Srikant Yadav (3:38:59) but fell short.

“ It was a very well organised event. Over the last five kilometers, there was hydration support for every kilometer,’’ Deepak said. “ Devendra, who finished second, was way ahead of me. I caught up with him at 40k and went past,” he said. Deepak decided to go easy in the early part of the race and that approach helped him.

Devendra Singh finished second with a timing of 3:50:52. Jitesh Vishwakarma came in third in 3:51:43.

“ It was a beautiful but tough course and a very well organised race. The run started at 2:30 AM. Being a woman it could have been scary running alone but there were bike-marshals through the entire course,” Anjali, winner among women in the 50k category, said.

2019 Tata Ultra: Anjali Saraogi (Photo: courtesy Anjali Saraogi)

The youngsters manning the aid stations were well trained in handing out hydration. “ Such small details make a huge difference to the runners, especially in tough conditions,’’ Anjali said.

She resorted to a walk-jog-run strategy as there were many uphill and downhill sections to negotiate along the 50k course, largely simulating the Comrades Marathon course. Tata Ultra is known to serve as training run for those attempting the ultramarathon in South Africa in June.

“ The strategy here has to be different from running a marathon. I walked quite a lot as it was not possible to run some of the stretches, which were quite steep,’’ Anjali said adding that grit and mental strength are central to completing a race like Tata Ultra.

Among women, Rajashri Tarihal came in second at 5:05:11. Preeti Lala (5:08:53) came in third.

In the 35k race category, podium finishers among men were Tukaram More (2:20:37), Anil Korvi (2:28:10) and Kamlya Bhagat (2:30:44). Women podium finishers were Shailja Sridhar (3:19:44), Kavita Chand (3:32:20) and Monica Becerril Ugalde (3:35:19).

Dnyaneshwar Morgha (Photo: Chetan Gusani)

2019 Navi Mumbai Half Marathon: Dnyaneshwar and Parshram triumph / Ladakhi runners top among women

With a timing of one hour, 12 minutes and 34 seconds, Dnyaneshwar Morgha and Parshram Laxman Bhoir were joint winners overall at the 2019 Tridhaatu Navi Mumbai Half Marathon

“We finished the race together,” Dnyaneshwar, a resident of village Vikramgad Khand in Thane district said. According to him, the race went off very well. However, Dnyaneshwar’s best timing in a half marathon is 1:08 hours.

A couple of weeks ago, Dnyaneshwar ran his first full marathon at a race in Chiplun in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. He finished the race in 2:33 hours. For more on Dnyaneshwar please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2017/12/01/the-dnyaneshwar-effect-vikramgads-runners/

At the Tridhaatu Navi Mumbai Half Marathon, Akshay Padwal finished third with a timing of 1:16:24.

Tashi Ladol (Photo: courtesy Tsering Stobgais)

Stanzin Chondol (Photo: courtesy Tsering Stobgais)

Runners from Ladakh took top honours among women. Tashi Ladol finished first with a timing of 1:28:12 hours followed by Stanzin Chondol, who crossed the finish line in 1:30:40. Both runners are from Ladakh, part of the group supported by Rimo Expeditions and visiting Mumbai every year in time for the annual Mumbai Marathon. In third position was Sayli Kupate with a timing of 1:31:57.

Susannah Gill sets new world record in World Marathon Challenge

British runner Susannah Gill set a new world record in the World Marathon Challenge early February 2019, completing the feat in 24 hours 19 minutes nine seconds to beat the previous record.

The Challenge involves running seven marathons across seven continents in seven days.

The last of the seven marathons was in Miami, Florida, where Susannah finished the race in 3:26:34 hours.

Forty competitors participating in the World Marathon Challenge were flown around the world on chartered planes to complete the marathon distance on each continent.

American runner Mike Wardian was the winner among men, in the Challenge.

Nikki Han (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Hong Kong Four Trails. No copyright infringement intended.)

First ever woman finisher at HK Four Trails 298K Ultra Challenge

Nikki Han emerged the first ever woman finisher at the 2019 edition of Hong Kong Four Trails 298-kilometer Ultra Challenge.

She covered the course in 58 hours 20 minutes.

The Challenge entails running through four trails – Maclehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau – covering a distance of 298 kilometers.

Runners have to reach the end – post box in Mui Wo on Lantau Island – within 60 hours to be termed as “ finisher.’’ Those ending the run in under 72 hours are called “survivors.’’

This is a self-supported run and participants are not allowed to carry hiking poles and walking sticks.

Among men, Kristian Joergensen was the first to finish in a timing of 55 hours 52 minutes.

Nihal Baig; from Colombo Ironman

Nihal Baig tops among Indian triathletes at Colombo Ironman

Mumbai’s Nihal Ahamad Baig was the first to finish among Indian participants at the Colombo 70.3 Half Ironman, held on February 24, 2019.

Finishing the triathlon in four hours, 39 minutes and 17 seconds, Nihal ended thirteenth overall and third in his age category of 25 to 29 years.

“ I had trained with a target of 4:35 hours. I lost some time in each of the three disciplines. Nevertheless, I was able to improve my timing by five and a half minutes,’’ Nihal said.

The swim in the sea and was slightly difficult as it was a bit choppy, he said.

“ The cycling route was flat but there were three loops and during turns one had to slow down. By the time the run started it was 9:30 AM and it was hot and humid. After the halfway point I had to reduce my pace as the heat was too much,’’ Nihal said.

Nihal Baig

He had finished the Bahrain 70.3 Ironman in December 2018 in 4:44:48 hours.

With his Colombo finish, Nihal has earned a slot for the World Championships Ironman 70.3 to be held in Nice, France in September 2019.

Earlier in January 2019, Nihal had placed ninth overall and second in his age category (18-24 years) in the full marathon at the annual Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM).

This time at Colombo 70.3, over 90 Indian triathletes participated, according to unofficial reports.

Nisha Madgavkar from Goa also achieved a podium finish in her age category of 40-44 years with a timing of 5:44:41 hours.

The overall winner of Colombo 70.3 was Olivier Godart with a finishing time of 4:05:06 hours. Godart hails from Luxembourg but lives in Dubai.

Dinesh Kumar and Aarti Patil win at Hiranandani Thane Half Marathon 2019

Dinesh Kumar was winner in the half marathon distance at the seventh edition of Hiranandani Thane Half Marathon. He finished the race in 1:09:05 hours.

In second position was Dinesh A, who completed the race in 1:09:28 hours, followed by Deepak Kumbhar in third place with a timing of 1:11:25 hours.

Among women, Aarti Patil was the winner with a timing of 1:21:13 hours. She was followed by Saigeeta Naik (1:22:20) in second position and Manisha Salunkhe (1:26:07) in third position.

In the 10k run, the winner was Dharmendra Yadav, who finished the race in 32:14 minutes. In second position was Adesh A with a timing of 32:19 minutes followed by Chandrakant Manwadkar (32:54).

Among women in the 10k race Poonam Sonune (38:41 minutes) placed first followed by Varsha Bhavari (39:05) in second place and Rishu Singh (40:18) in third.

Abhishek Pal (Photo: courtesy Abhishek Pal)

New world records for both men and women in 5k race; Abhishek Pal in fourth position

Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan set a new world record for women at the Herculis 5 k race in Monaco on February 17, 2019.

In the same race, Julien Wanders of Switzerland set a new world record for the men’s 5 k distance.

Sifan Hassan crossed the finish line in 14:44 minutes improving the previous world record of 15:48 minutes. Britain’s Laura Weightman finished second in 15:29 minutes.

According to details available on the website of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Julien Wanders finished his 5k race in 13:29 minutes, improving a second from the previous world record of 13:29 minutes.

In the same race, 22-year-old Abhishek Pal of India finished in fourth position with a timing of 14:04 minutes.

On February 8, 2019, Julien Wanders had broken Mo Farah’s European half marathon record at the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) half-marathon in United Arab Emirates.

Julien finished in 59:13 minutes beating Mo Farah’s previous record by 21 seconds.

At the 5k race in Monaco, Sondre Moen of Norway finished second with a timing of 13:37 minutes.

The 5km road distance was introduced as a world record event in November 2017, with the inaugural record to be recognized after 1 January 2018 if the performances were equal to or better than 13:10 for men and 14:45 for women. If no such performances were achieved in 2018, the best performances of 2018 were to be recognized on 1 January 2019.

From 2019 Ultra Spice (Photo: courtesy Divya Tate)

New course record at Ultra Spice

Lt Col Bharat Pannu set a new course record in the 1780-kilometer solo category of the 2019 edition of Ultra Spice, the annual ultra-cycling event organized by Inspire India. The race spans Goa-Ooty-Goa.

Bharat completed the race that commenced and ended at Bogmalo Beach, Goa, in 95 hours 47 minutes, breaking the previous record set by Col Srinivas Gokulnath.

Ultra Spice is a composite of three distances – 1750 km, 1000 km and 600 km – all starting and finishing in Bogmalo, Goa. It has both solo and relay team categories. Racers must have support vehicle and crew.

Bharat Pannu (Photo: courtesy Divya Tate)

In the 1750 km and 1000 km categories, two support vehicles with a minimum of two drivers in each vehicle, is mandatory.

Solo racers, who finish within stipulated time, qualify for Race Across America (RAAM), the ultra-cycling event held every year in the US featuring a ride from the country’s west coast to the east.

Kabir Rachure from Navi Mumbai placed second in the 1780 km solo category this year with a timing of 100 hours 46 minutes. The cut-off for this category is 120 hours.

Karthik Padmanabhan finished third with a timing of 119 hours 22 minutes.

Ila Patil was the first and only woman participant to finish the 1780 km race. She finished the race in 137 hours 17 minutes, outside the cut-off timing of 128 hours.

Ila Patil (Photo: courtesy Divya Tate)

In the two-person team category for the distance of 1780 km, the winner was Team Pedal Demons comprising Adesh Kale and Dhanraj Helambe. They finished in 85 hours 24 hours, well within the cut-off timing of 96 hours.

Mayank Tripathi won the 1000 km solo category finishing the race in 54 hours 32 minutes within the cut-off timing of 56 hours.

Team Gear and Beer comprising Kaustubh Dandekar and Rohit Dandekar won the two-person team category finishing the race in 47 hours 45 minutes within the cut-off timing of 48 hours.

In the solo men’s 600 km race, Shlomi Kot won in the age category of 50 years and above, finishing in 27 hours 25 minutes against the cut-off time of 32 hours. Vivek Shah finished the race for solo men in age group of 18-49 years in 29 hours four minutes against the cut-off timing of 30 hours.

This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Delirious W.E.S.T (Breeze; front row, third from right). No copyright infringement intended.

Delirious W.E.S.T / Breeze Sharma participates in first edition of the race

At the time of writing, the first edition of Australia’s 200 mile-ultramarathon, Delirious W.E.S.T, was going on.

The course of this ultramarathon is entirely on the Bibbulmun Track in the South West and Great Southern regions of Western Australia, from Northcliffe to Albany.

The event commenced on February 20, 2019 and was due to end at 3 PM on February 24 with a 104 hour cut-off.

India’s Breeze Sharma (Brijmohan Sharma), mountaineer and ultra-runner, was among 43 participants at the inaugural edition.

The event’s course is through forests, coastal scrub, beaches and along the Bibbulmun track.

At the time of writing, Breeze Sharma had covered over 286 kilometers.

Update: As per results available on the Delirious W.E.S.T Facebook page, Breeze Sharma completed the ultramarathon in 95 hours 39 minutes.

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