“90.18 kms in a day!”
Hearing this, my non-runner friends laughed. But that didn’t discourage me. After all, my mantra is simple One life, make the most of it.
I was planning to run Comrades, a world-known ultra-marathon, held in Durban, South Africa annually. The ultra-marathon is extremely tough and merciless with stringent cut-off times. With my mantra in mind, I decided to run this pinnacle full of hills and extreme weather conditions.
I knew planning for my training would be extremely difficult as I would have to juggle my training with my work-schedules in the peak months of JFM (Jan, Feb, Mar). Being a hardcore sales guy the first thing that came to my mind was, “Easy hai toh boring hai yar!” And it worked. After, 10 months of disciplined training which included a couple of ultra runs on Sundays, I had bolstered enough confidence to face the race.
I have run many races in India and abroad, but the crowd support at Comrades is the best I have seen so far ‘Well done Sanjay’, ‘Keep it up’, ‘C’mon India’, ‘You are almost there’ you feel awesome to hear the support for you and your country, especially when you still have a long way to go.
In my effort to motivate my team I always tell them – The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!
After crossing hills after hills, I came up with my little umph. The hills were endless and unforgiving. That’s when I realized the importance of walking in ultra runs. As a runner, you need to keep your ego aside and just walk those hills. And the trick works like magic.
After entering the final leg of the race, my adrenaline rush soared high. Especially when I entered the stadium, with the crowd cheering you on. At that moment, I felt like hugging everyone.
Finally, I crossed the finish line at 11:19:44, well within the time. But who really cares about timing when you’re standing at the finish line at the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon, experiencing a strange yet humbling satisfaction, thanking your Gods, stars, family, Co runners and friends.
Yes, your legs and muscles may have a list of cribs for a week but it doesn’t matter, when all you can is relish every moment of the marathon you just accomplished. They say life should be full of stories not plans. In my book I guess, I have a blockbuster now.