During a 100k night run, sometime last year, I had an opportunity of meeting Kannan. Along with him, I ran most of the distance. Not only did I enjoy the run, but the knowledge and race strategy that he used to sustain that distance was an eye opener. Kannan is a very well-read man and his experience in running long distance is priceless.
A few weeks back, an invite to join #ootyultra from @kayfitacademy got me interested and there was no second thoughts on whether I wanted to run the race or not! Very few good Ultra runs in India.
I must say, the clarity of communication from the race director not just regarding the registration process or about the route but also guiding the runners on transport, hotel bookings was crisp and clear. Weekly emails and motivational messages got me pumped up. Being a runner and a coach, you exactly know what a participant is looking for and that makes a lot of difference.
Working through injury, I was keeping my mileage low, (weekly 50-60k) and focusing on strength and body conditioning. The Ooty Ultra 60k, was going to be a part of my training run for the #everestmarathon
Taher and myself drove on Saturday morning, quick pit-stop at Mysore for Masala Dosa and Kaapi and off into the hills. Being a long weekend and vacation time, the Queen of hills was overcrowded, traffic jams at every junction.
Mysore Masala dosa in Mysore :)
BIB collection and briefing is always an enjoyable part of any race. You not only get to shake hands with known faces but also meet new ones too. Ajit and Uma, Mahalakshmi and Sandeep, Aparajitha, #coachkay was clear in his instructions with a pinch of humor. The goody bag for once did not have Volini, but some good Tea, both masala and home grown. Aroma oils and the #ootychocolates too. Special mention of the Tee, the design and fabric 😊 I was sure going to flaunt it! A suggestion – next time, have the BIB distribution in the city.
What was the joke?
Met my favourite Vijay and Swetha. Vijay is knowledge bank, and this is not just with running related topics. We have done many races together, Jawadhu and Kardungla Challenge too.
The start time was a relaxed 6:30am.
Pros – You get a good eight-hour sleep.
Cons – be ready to be roasted early into the race!
The first 5k is in the city and in no time, you are climbing the highest peak in South India, the #doddabetta peak. Kannan had managed police permission to block traffic to the peak, which was such a blessing.
15k was at the Tea Park. I now realized, I had to visit this place three times before I finish the race. Ultra-running is also about talking to your mind and getting mentally prepared for the next couple of hours.
At the 30k check point, I met Vijay. His words, “The race has just begun, got my adrenaline rushing”. I dint bother to stop for breakfast, I am always stocked well with energy bars and dates. With time, learnt the art of eating in bite sized food on the move. Around the 45k mark, I had a gush of energy (I love downhills) and the next 8k were my best! A village at the 52k mark is where I met my buddy Taher and the most stylish Ashok chilling out. I try and keep a constant pace, hence decided to continue and meet them at finish. Took a few pieces of freshly cut watermelons along the way at the hydration point where Vasu was cheering. Thank you!
Ultra running is so much fun
Through the day the sun shone hard, and seeing a large bottle of Fanta was bliss!! That was coach Kay was in his car, cheering and motivating us. I always enjoy the last 5k of any race, its home coming you see 😊
Colonel was cheering runners at the 5th hair pin bend, which means I had just five terrible uphills away. His words of encouragement and smile got me sprinting. The last two kilometers was through the four road junction, traffic bad, but the bit of flat terrain got me back to some speed running. Before I knew, I had entered the Tea Park. Special mention of a happy volunteer at the junction (I don’t know his name), who kept smiling through the 10 hours, guiding runners up to the finish line. Highly appreciate your gesture!
The course was longer by 2000mts and it was the first time I was counting backwards at hairpin bends. Cars along the way were struggling in gear one and we had taken on the challenge to run this up! The downhills were killers, losing about 800mts within a kilometer or so. Running around tea estates and through villages was enjoyable.
09:13:13 for a 62k of hill running at the first edition of OOTY ULTRA. A personalized medal was the icing on the cake, loved it!
The hydration stations were well stocked with lemon n salt, oranges freshly pealed, watermelons, chikkis and biscuits. A suggestion – cut wedges of the watermelon, instead of chopping them up, runners can carry along the way. Of course, #fastandup too. Smiling face of the volunteers ready to serve you is a joy. The volunteers stood for over 10 hours supporting us. Kudos!
A well planned and executed race, I congratulate the entire team along with #coachkay for the successful completion of the first edition of the Ooty Ultra.
I can read my name on the finisher medal ?