Friday, September 18, 2015

The Ladakh Marathon Khardungla challenge Sept 13, 2015

The Flawed Flagship race of Ladakh

The Race Day Sept 13th 2015 came and went, but not before taking a huge part of my sweat, muscle and perseverance and in return, handing me something irreplaceable, an achievement to cherish in every sense of the word!

When i tried to research this race 6 months back, i found sketchy/incomplete information from runners who did it, almost like it was a CIA top secret and some superfluous info from the site itself. Nevertheless we planned, trained and executed our plans on our own and emerged largely unscathed and victorious!

So here I am, lapping up memories of that day and trying to present them to any prospective runner who wishes to go through the grind literally in the innards of the hostile mountains!

The Stok Kangri trek (20,000ft+, long route 8 days, via Shang Phu, Gangpoche, Matho La, Mankarmo) preceded the run. I can easily say that it was the wisest thing ever to do in preparation. Cause as expected, we had acclimated so beautifully and learnt how to use our lungs and deep breathing techniques to beat headaches. AMS and headaches stayed miles away during the run!

I had ambitiously planned to take videos with a GoPro 4 to document but gladly didn't do so. While on the run, there was nothing to distract me from my rhythm which meant that i was performing at great efficiency! In fact, i didn't even feel like taking my iPhone out of my running belt to take photos or videos, lest it broke my rhythm!

72kms is a HUGE distance and any break of established rhythm could mean that you could stare at THE WALL which, in reality, could mean NOT finishing the race leave alone staying within the CutOff time of 14hrs!

On Sept 12th, Mr Motup Rimo and the race director, Mr Hakim handed the runners a briefing at the Rimo Expeditions office in Leh at 12 noon.

All was good and they laid special emphasis on not taking shortcuts. Apparently many Ladakhi runners did take shortcuts in the previous edition especially at locations like this, that could save a couple of kms. Believe me, you wouldn't want to risk a scratch at that altitude that can potentially end your run, forget risking fracturing your limbs on chances like these.

They also told us of hydration points at every 4 kms, medical facilities, an extended 8 hr (7hr previously) cut-off for runners who failed to make it to KhardungLa top and a sweep-up vehicle to pick them up and transport them back to Leh. The runners were going to be manually timed. Sounded great, but eventually each of these protocols were disastrously and extremely disappointingly NOT followed.

An hour later, our bus filled with Mumbai runners departed for Khardung village. It was a laugh-riot party including super Mumbai runners, Kavin, Sandip, Sunil and us second rung runners Sameer, Aditya, Ashish, Prince, me amongst others.

Thanks to a traffic stop at KhardungLa top due to a road blasting, what was to take 2.5 hrs to reach took 4 hrs

We stopped at S Pullu, K Top and N Pullu. What struck us as we took leaks was the intense cold that made us scurry back into the bus
We reached Khardung village(13500ft) to a sight of mushrooming comfortable tents for the runners to spend the hours before the 3 am race start

Lot of time was spent in chatting with fellow runners, clicking pictures, planning strategies and we even managed a pic with the winner of last year. One thing was certain, the severe COLD and the pain!!!!


With the winner of last year!

Night came and it was dinner time. There was a lovely spread of vegetarian and non vegetarian fare

We thereafter settled into our tents by 8 pm and believe it or not the sleeping bags were soooo good i got the best sleep ever. For the record, i have never slept so well even before a Mumbai Marathon!!!

We woke up at 1:30 am. The first thing i did was hydrate myself and have a glass of Sattu, a chick pea powder that helps me! I finished off 5-6 seedless dates, prepared my Enerzal fix for my hydration belt and put on my bib and checked my head torch. As I came out, i saw a lot of runners at the breakfast spread. I have never eaten breakfast before any kind of a distance run and chose not to here too! There were some bananas but they were the rawest ever and didn't pass down my mouth beyond the bite. 

Now here was the plan given by the organizers. There would be 3 vehicles one each at N Pullu(17 kms), K Top (32kms) and S Pullu (46kms), the license plate numbers of which were given to us. We could keep items that we would need subsequently in those cars. I decided to keep in cloth bags my glares, sunscreen and my fixes of Sattu powder, Dates and Enerzal for K Top and some sattu, enerzal and dates for the other 2 places. I gave my designated cloth bags to the organizers and took the token for the same. So far so good!

Th race began at Sharp 3 am with the Ladakhi runners just shooting off into the dark. That was the last we saw of them! I jogged at an ultra slow speed and walked whenever my breathing went heavy. I kept a tab of the milestone markers and figured that even with walking i was managing a consistent 10 min per km (6kmph). The cold was numbing!!! The head torches looked insanely pretty like fireflies in the dark of the night. As we started gaining altitude, the walking effort was getting that much more difficult. I reached N Pullu and to the designated vehicle at 545 am. The driver gave me a cup of cool Enerzal. Felt awesome! I wanted to prepare my Sattu and squeeze a precut piece of lime. I figured my hands were so numb they weren't even closing into a fist, leave alone squeezing a lime. The driver helped me with it and all energized i shot off from N Pullu. Sameer was half a km ahead and eventually i caught up with him on walk. KhardungLa top was now visible at a distance but still a good 14 kms of horrible surfaced gravel top road separated us. The road was so bad, it was virtually impossible to run. Left me wondering how the Ladakhis tamed such a road!

The Ladakh marathon cars kept crossing us at times asking us for water, Enerzal biscuits and "raw" bananas!! As a strategy i always kept my waist belt bottle full with Enerzal water and always hydrated myself on these offerings. This habit proved to be immensely useful a bit later.
After lots of trials and tribulations negotiating one hill after the another, i finally managed to walk to KhardungLa top (18000ft) at 855 am (5.4 kmph). I had no headache, but just really heavy breathing that kept me going! En route, i went ahead of ace runner Sandip who suffered a severe headache at N Pullu due to fast running and had now settled into a slower walk!

K Top

Th prayer flags at K Top

KhardungLa top was pretty deserted devoid of tourists or bikers as vehicular traffic had been closed for the day till 11 am. I reached out to the designated bus, put on my glares, didn't care to change my socks, had my fixes of dates and Sattu and oops...i had forgotten to keep my cap in the bag!!! I saw an Indian army jawan standing with folded hands tucked into himself and watching my plight!!! i thought to myself, "my plight ends today, his goes on God knows till when!" I soldiered on spending not more than 3 minutes at K Top, lest it broke my rhythm. 

S Pullu was visible a couple of hundred meters down but again 14 kms of deceptively curved roads were needed to be negotiated. I now decided to run down wherever i found some clean stretches of road on the otherwise potholed and gravel top road. But with every step of running i could feel the hard ground slamming at my soles and making me stop and walk. No probs i thought, i was still doing 10min/km on the way down despite running a few sections!!! 

NOT ONE hydration vehicle/med van crossed me from K Top till I reached S Pullu at 1130 am and that's where a drama erupted. 

The designated vehicle was there but was locked with no sign of the driver. A US youngster, Matthew who was marching ahead of me after overtaking me at K Top had kept his 'running' shoe and change of clothes in the bag which was in the car. He was furious and blew his top at the car being locked!! I too was depending on my fixes and to fill up Enerzal water in my half full bottle. i found an official in a car moving up and gave him a piece of my mind but that was not even a speck of what the US lad had to say!

From S Pullu, the road was a lovely resurfaced black top. I could see Sandip running down atleast a km behind me. I too decided to take advantage of the surface and started running more often than not. Lot of gravel had entered my shoe and were now causing enormous friction on my feet. I sat down on the road against my wishes and removed each shoe and cleaned them off.

It was now 12 noon and 21 kms remained to be done. I now thought to myself that there was a great possibility of breaking the 12 hr mark!!!! Cos it was all downhill and good road that even a slow jog should do it..

I now could see Sandip right behind me. He was effortlessly running at a steady pace and while he was just behind me, a cameraman grabbed some footage of me leading Sandip!!!!! A highpoint for me!!!! He overtook me egging me on to join him... but that was comparing apples and oranges.. i egged him on to break 12!! 

I reached Ganglas, 11 kms from Leh 0 mark with 1:35 min left for 12 hr mark. I needed to run at around a comfortable 8 min/km to break 12. I kept going, reaching the Shanti Stupa turn and then towards Leh city. The road now meandered through slums and i now reached Leh 0 mark at 2:55 pm, clocking 11:55 min. I was now expecting to find the Ladakh public school, the designated finish and a grand welcome full of love!! But that wasnt to be.

Unfortunately for an ultra marathon of this stature and extreme difficulty, where one would expect to find a countdown of markers leading to finish (2kms to go, 1 kms to go etc..) there was not even a single signpost leading to finish. I had to ask people on the road who were bewildered by expression. I even found some kids wearing Ladakh marathon tees and they said its still 1.5 kms away!!!!!! I was like, should i simply hail a cab and go to the finish!!! Disgruntled, i finally reached the finish line where the race director Mr Hakim sat on a chair manually feeding in our times. The medals were elsewhere inside a school...they could have easily kept it at the finish mark!!

Mr Motup later argued that the finish signposts were torn off by locals... It was hard to believe that flippant excuse for a race which blocks traffic on a military road for a mere 85 runners!!!! Anyways, i had finished what i had set out to and finished it well. Each runner who finished seemed to be mortally enraged by the same thing. One hapless runner (Sandip Dhuri who finished 3rd among Non ladakhis) had to wade through a market to find the finish!!!! I finished 6th among 46 Non Ladakhis in 12hr 13min.

Right after finish, flanked by Dharmendar from Bangalore, Laldev and the race director Mr Hakim
Along with Ashish who had to quit at 46 kms to a bad back and a broken toe nail and Atul who ran the half marathon earlier in the day, i waited for Sameer.. Sameer came in an hour and a half later, jubilant and complaining about the horrible finish!!!.. There was no medical facility at the end!!! Well, Mr Motup had a perfectly lousy excuse for everything!!!
With Sandip (bibbed), Deepak Londhe of Striders, Bala, and Matthew, the US lad

Ashish and Sameer, my partners in madness for the past 6 months

Overall, it was a great run, a huge achievement of sorts after the 13hr Stok Kangri summit day effort 5 days earlier. Not once during the race did even a feeble thought occur to me that i should quit. The 72 km KhardungLa challenge is easily the flagship run for Ladakh Marathon but clearly it needed to be managed better..lest it dies a natural death!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Holidays are a break from work! Not from running!! - Running in Burma

With less than a month to go for Race Day, I am in an unusual dilemma as to whether I should run the last long run or simply take it easy and save up for raceday. Have i peaked too early? Typically for the Mumbai Marathon, I do my last long run 3 weeks before race day. 

But there isn't anything typical about THIS race.

At the KhardungLa challenge, I not only need to conserve strength for the 72 kms distance but I also need to save up some love for myself for a TOUGH 9 days acclimatising trek that precedes it.

Running the previous 2 long runs at Lavasa and Amby valley didn't drain me much but left me with a bit of a stuffy nose that could make acclimatising in Ladakh difficult. So, I needed to rest out before we depart for Ladakh on Aug 31st.

Also, work pressures between my trip to Burma and Ladakh ensure that I look for an opportunity to rest in whatever time i get.

So when in Burma, I tried to keep up with the momentum gained from the previous runs and packed my running gear for at least a short run or 2 out there.

Feeling pressure to give up running through the holidays is fairly common. Its very tempting to put training on hold until after the holiday’s over. But with such a daunting challenge ahead, NOT running for a while can actually create even more stress!

Add to it, the pressures of day trips beginning early morning at times can also seriously limit the amount of time one can get to run especially either in the morning or evening. Nevertheless, i did 3 beautiful short runs on the lovely roads and trails of Burma

There are a couple of things I kept in mind while doing these holidays runs.

I planned my runs keeping the day’s schedule in mind. If there would be any car travel in the day, that would give me some time to catch up on sleep, i would run a bit longer. 
I consciously avoided pushing myself with any pace runs or serious hill running. 

Even advises “Running three days a week for even 20 to 30 minutes will maintain your current fitness level, relieve stress, and give you more time for holiday obligations. 
Shorten your runs. Something is better than nothing! Some running is better than no running at all so rather than eliminate a run completely, cut it short” 

The first run i did was in Mandalay, an easy paced city that wakes up early and sleeps early too. The city is blessed with plenty of greenery and pagodas

A large portion of Mandalay is occupied by the Royal Palace which has beautiful continuous green boulevards on all 4 sides and aggregate to approximately 8-9 kms. 

There’s also the Mandalay hill that gives a superb moderate hill run experience while giving beautiful views of the city below.

I charted my route on and headed out with a small bottle of water in hand. I chose to run approximately an hour which would mean a circuit of upto 10 kms. 
Mandalay Hill was quite far from our hotel and going to the top and back would mean running around 15 kms for which i did not have enough time in hand.

The run was essentially a flat terrain upto the base of Mandalay hill and back. 

Running along the walls of the fortress of a palace gave me good time to closely appreciate the watch towers and the gates while running my imagination as to how impressive the architecture and designing was in those days. Absolutely no technology, it was pure Mathematics, engineering, and hard work of labourers or slaves then! 

The boulevards are a favourite for joggers in Mandalay. An early 530 sunrise means runners are winding up their runs by as early as 630 am. So as i trotted back to my hotel after an hour and 15 minutes and 12 kms done, the sun was up and blazing and i was on time to enjoy the lovely breakfast!!

The second short run i did was near Inle Lake at Nyaung Shwe. This was mainly to capture early morning pictures of a sleepy town. It was just a half hour run with a friend Shruthi who somehow felt inspired to wake up early and join me for my jog. 

The half hour run around Nyuang Shwe was flat through rice fields and on village roads alongside monasteries and stupas. 

It was a pleasure to see monks headed to for their morning prayers. Did i have as much discipline as they did with their prayer schedules?? Far from it!!!

The third run was in Bagan. The moment we reached Bagan, I was dead sure that i wanted to run there. The beautiful trails, the ups and downs of the roads and the serenity of the pagodas are just too tempting to avoid a run!
We started off from our hotel at 5 am. Our course was to run from New Bagan to Old Bagan and run for atleast an hour and divert along any trails that entwine around the Pagodas that came our way.
The weather was very hot and humid, nevertheless the joy of running in new places quite overcomes that discomfort. The first few kms were a slight upward gradient and I chose to pace ahead and run back to catch up with Shruthi. Thus, we could stay together and i could ramp up on my distance..


As we closed in on Shwedagon pagoda, a popular site for tourists to enjoy the sunrise, there were lots of westerners returning on their ebikes. Bagan has a policy by which tourists are allowed to only use E Bikes. And not fuelled motorbikes. This ensures that the environs of the pagodas are clean and pollution free! 

At one particular roadside Pagoda, i saw a steep flight of stairs going up to the Buddha statue inside. I did a couple of up and down runs on it. Its so much fun to run with no targets in head! Something i really discovered in all my training runs outside of Mumbai!!!

Quite soon, it was more than an hour that we had been running and we turned back to our hotel. How complete is a morning run in Bagan without the sight of a monk headed for prayers?? That too happened and a good 1hr 15 min later, we were back in our rooms to get ready for our day ahead whizzing around Bagan on Ebikes!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Conquering an unending route - Pune to Lavasa 56 kms Ultra

If the Amby valley run was a complete fun run through a party riot, the Pune Lavasa route was quiet, serious, beautiful and an extremely rewarding training run in terms of terrain, gradient and weather.

Post the Amby valley run, a couple of interesting events happened.

The Zurich triathlon threw to the Indian triathlon community a new addition, Milind Soman, a hero and an inspiration to millions. He completed his FIRST Ironman…
Our timeless Hero

Of course there were the usual suspects like Kaustubh Radkar who lapped up a mind-boggling 12th Ironman!!! If thats not enough,

James Lawrence, a.k.a. the Iron Cowboy achieved a superhuman feat in the United States. He completed an unimaginable 50 full course Ironmans, in all 50 States of The US, in 50 days. That means he did a 3.8 kms swim followed by 180 kms of cycling followed by 42.2 kms running EVERY SINGLE DAY for 50 days travelling all over the US.. 

James Lawrence a.k.a. The Ironcowboy on the 50th day
and here i am hibernating for 2 days after a measly 50 odd kms!!!

Meanwhile i was thrilled that my blog attracted attention and I received an invite for an Interview from

 The firstrunning Interview Part 1
SCMM via Procamrunning also covered my blog on their Facebook page!!

Generally after an ultra, i spend a couple of days in hibernation. There are aye and naysayers for recovery runs, but i generally avoid any running the day after and choose to live through my normal activities that involves a fair amount of walking and being on my feet.

So the 2 weeks till this Sunday, i only did maybe 3 hours of running-stair climbing per week. The Sunday after the Amby run, i lazed and just did a bit of light stretching and some core exercises.

I also procured the training mask from . This simulates high altitudes by fitting customized valves in a certain manner. 

However, its Hannibalistic looks have deterred me from wearing it on the Mumbai roads, as yet, lest my beloved strays choose to hound me. 

5 weeks to go before we depart for Ladakh. 

I am quite enjoying preparing for these fortnightly Ultras. The sheer joy of running for long hours, the excitement and anticipation of a new uncharted terrain and providing myself yet another opportunity to conquer mental blocks of distances makes the whole process of running pleasurable!

Sameer, Ashish and I planned to try out the 50 kms Pune Lavasa route on our friend Hrushikesh’s recommendation. 

Hrushikesh is an accomplished runner, trekker, cyclist and a seller of the classy Marin bikes from Pune. He also volunteered to crew for our effort. Another fellow dentist, Aditya also joined us on the run. 

We barely caught up on 4 hrs of sleep on Saturday night thanks to the traffic situation on the expressway post the deadly landslide the previous week.

So the 4 of us set out on yet another bespoke 50 kms ultra early morning at 4 am expecting to get done by 1030 - 11am

The Lavasa route is a true roller coaster with equal number of ups and downs all the way till Temgarh dam, beyond which is a massive relentless Grade 2 moderately steep climb up to Lavasa.

The first few miles till Chandani Chowk were pretty easy

For the first time ever, i was trying out some gear that i will be donning at KhardungLa. One is the compression top from and the compression 3/4ths bottoms of Surprisingly, they were super comfy and i never even thought of getting rid of them through the run until the sun was really high and hot.

Running in the dark hours of morning, there was a constant breeze that complemented our warming limbs!

As we passed each territory, the local strays masquerading as wild dogs, practically everywhere, gave us a growling welcome, often coming close enough to sniff at us. Luckily none came too close for comfort and would back off if we stopped and growled back!

The constant ups and downs and the cool breeze ensured that we didn't really have to walk except at the slope going up to Manas lake. 

Sameer and I going up to Mutha top, a grade 3 incline 
From here on, the route turns scenic after the industrial town of Pirangut. 

The Pirangut ghat down at the 15kms mark was completely welcome and helped us keep momentum right till the turn away from the Mulshi road. Thereafter, it was a straight road up to Lavasa.

All my long runs over the last 2 months have taught me a thing or two about mental battles and overcoming them. Most of our runs have been out and back loops, be it Matheran or Amby. This is the first run that has been a one-way affair. In many ways, if one is not mentally geared for such a run, one can hit the wall and from then on, every kilometre seems like eternity! And thats another reason why i rated this route high for ultra training.

Luckily for us, Hrushikesh has been a veteran of this route and his pit stop guidance about the route and its undulations and what to expect were remarkably accurate. 
Reaching the Mutha hill top

One of the highlights of this route was the short Mutha hill climb leading to the top that offers spectacular views of the plains below on either side. As we climbed up, the serene sounds of ringing bells of a distant temple complemented the crisp fresh air of the early Sunday morning. A bunch of Pune cyclists racing up and down to Lavasa crossed and cheered us. From the top, the headwinds were so strong it almost made us stop and sway sideways as we ran down

Unlike Amby, this route didn't have as much vehicular traffic, making it that much more safe

Hrushikesh would stop at every 5 kms and we would perform our well-oiled rituals of stretching, fuelling and checking for blisters, etc. At the 40th km, at the base of Temgarh dam, Hrushi warned us that the next 8 kms were all steady steep uphill to Lavasa.

Temgarh dam
It was 5h:10min elapsed until now and i assumed we should finish our planned 50 kms well within the planned 6h:30 min. Though my legs were stiff, I was still in good spirits and decided to walk up on the slopes and run wherever possible. It turned out that the 8kms barely offered a couple of hundred metres of relatively flat stretches which i could still run on! So that felt great! 1hr 20 min later,  at 48.5 kms, Hrushikesh and Ashish decided that we should turn back as Aditya had turned back earlier. Sameer and I also felt that running downhill would make our timings respectable. It would also mean running on tired legs, which is exactly we would be doing running down from Khardungla. 
Descending from Lavasa
We gladly did that and finished yet another ultra 56 kms in 7hr 22 min of what was an exhilarating Sunday morning well spent on training!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Partyzone Ultra

As I write this, I am just 2 months away from the Big K challenge. So now is the time to really test ourselves over ultra distance. In marathon circles any distance over 42.2kms is an ultra. Counting for atleast 3 weeks of tapering, we are literally left with only 5 weeks of training. The past 3 months have flown with reasonably good success. 

The last Ultra that i did was actually on trail and hiking terrain (Oxfam 50kms) and we nailed it in 8hr 30min. Assuming that road should be slightly easier than trail, so long as we are well acclimatised, the race should take us approx 12hrs and fit the billing of the 12-13 hr cut off.
The killer would definitely be the the acclimatisation bit as we ascend to 18000ft during the run. We therefore plan to do the Stok Kangri summit prior to the race. We head to Leh on 31st Aug and intend to do the trek, that if completed weather permitting, will take us to 20000ft at the summit. Post the trek, hopefully we will be acclimatised and ready for the Big K 3 days later.
Time spent on the road simply gets exponentially tougher by the minute once you head into the ultra range. Just like graduating from a 10 k to a 21k seems arduous or from 21k to 42 k seems like never-ending, going beyond 42 k takes the cake. 
So, this weekend was a step towards the same. To go beyond what i have done so far. 
Lonavala to Amby valley is a 24 kms stretch that goes beyond the chaotic Bhushi damn (intentional). It climbs up steeply beyond INS Shivaji to the plateau that seats Lion point. Thereafter, its a roller coaster ride upto and beyond Cloud 9 resort till one reaches the bifurcation that leads to Amby valley
We started off from Lonavala at 4:15am. Within a few minutes it started drizzling. The temperatures were cool and our legs were fresh and all excited. It was pitch dark at places when the headlights of a fast descending car would dramatically light up the road for a bit.

But what stunned us was the fact that hordes of wild young bikers and 20 somethings screaming aloud at us from the sunroofs of their cars at that hour. Some yelled the cliche bhaag Milkha while some even said  "armyche cadets aahet"..etc. I wish they could see our 4-decade old faces more clearly!!!   

It did remind us of our hilarious days when we did the same. Sameer termed them louts! Well, the louts' brigade didn't seem to stop, as we trudged up the ghats, there seemed to be an unending supply of cars ferrying louts! 
The clouds had started moving in and at times the visibility with our torches were a few metres at the most. It was completely surreal and great fun running in the fog that lashed out heavy rains at times. The psychedelic lights of a restaurant belting out Bollywood numbers  and a roadside DZay party of some garrish dhaba near Bhushi damn, we thought was the ultimate! 

All this made the first 10 kms literally a breeze. A steady climb in the dark against an onslaught of heavy traffic got us to the Lion's point plateau. It was around 545 am. Thats when we realised the source of the perpetual brigade of cars. In the super dense fog, we could only hear a million cars maxing their system decibels. We literally stopped to try and take stock of what was probably the dying hours of a huge overnight party!!! Unbelievable!

The early hues of dawn were now visible. We decided to get rid of our torches in our backup vehicle. Fed on some bananas, enerzal and dates. This took care of a grumbling tummy. And headed for the beautiful roller coaster ride that followed. 

Beyond party zone, we could now actually hear the morning songbirds amidst the pitter patter of the rains. Its so much easier to train at such places than in Mumbai. We had instructed our driver to stop at every 5 kms. That ensured a constant refill of my bottle and also a steady nutrition along the way. These are paramount to avoid cramps which i am so prone to and hitting "the wall" later.
With daybreak and the distractions away we could actually focus on our running. 

That led us to build some speed as we went past Korigad and reached Amby valley (24 kms) at exactly 3 hrs. 

We stopped for a good 20 mins at the gate, stretching, eating and preparing mentally for the way back. 
The route back surprised us no end. We actually saw a signpost on the road through the dense forest that hilariously mentioned "Haunted place after 6. Enter at your own risk" I turned back, there was no one in sight on the eerie unending ribbon of tar disappearing into white nothing
The cold of the rain and the foggy weather actually gave me a shiver. 
Plenty of buses ferrying staff of Shilim, Machan, Club Mahindra etc zipped past us. At some road junctions, we did get stared at by villagers and picnickers alike sometimes in sympathy but most times in awe. On way back to Lion point, it was a mess of the revelry that ended a few hours ago. It was close to 35 kms done and the sun would peek out of the clouds at times. And yet another mental game came up, much like on most of my long runs. The trick would be to simply run through it. The ghats that we so effortlessly came up while in the dark and rain, now seemed unending in the sun. Beyond INS Shivaji, the traffic grew worse often making us stop and walk. And it was a complete full stop as i crossed Bhushi damn and the subsequent dam near Lonavala. I walked in the now glaring sun, with no cap and no glares. Sam had completed his targeted 40 kms and stood at the 45 kms mark egging me on. I had half a mind to join him in the car but carried on. It was further 3 kms back to Lonavala. I could certainly imagine how crazy we appeared to surprised onlookers on Main street at 10:45 am as i finished my 48 kms in 6hrs 27 min 
Interviews have revealed that ultra-marathoners placed great importance on finishing the race.
Prikko Markula, PhD, a professor of socio-cultural studies of physical activity at the University of Alberta, Canada notes in her blog on Psychology Today that the 'runners found pushing the limits and finishing extreme running races empowering -- a sense of achievement that made them feel good about themselves.'
So, yes..I did feel good about myself. Its not everyday that one finds motivation to kill oneself this way! Running an Ultra!
My friend often tells me, "I can suggest easier ways to kill yourself.. " 
"Well..those ain't meant for me!!!"