I last visited India in August 2011 which is over 4 years ago! Back then I had recently caught the triathlon bug and wanted to continue training whilst in India. Unfortunately for me, I was restricted to running around a small park in my neighbourhood which had a perimeter of only a few hundred metres. Running around that park used to drive me mad! I was also restricted in terms of timing. I could only run in the early hours of the morning to beat the heat since temperatures in August can reach in the high 30s (degree C). The high temps coupled with humidity would make it unbearable to run in the evenings.
Over the past few years I have heard of numerous half marathons and marathons being organised in major cities across India. I’ve always wanted to compete in one but never really had the opportunity due to work and other personal commitments.
Before arriving to India to spend my Christmas holidays, I got in touch with Arjun Saraswat who is a keen runner and future triathlete. A very strong runner who set his PB on a half marathon in early December and is now looking for a sub 3hr finish at the Mumbai marathon in January 2016.
Thanks to Arjun, I have been able to train regularly and at a good intensity. My training has mainly been focused around running due to the poor infrastructure for swimming and cycling. The roads in Delhi aren’t the best and neither is the traffic! The majority of the swimming pools are shut for the winter but the one that is open at Talkatora Stadium requires me to go through a long sign up process before I can use the facilities.
Coming back to running, I took part in the Adidas 12hr Stadium Run on Sunday 27th December which was organised by the same Race Director of the New Delhi Marathon. No I did not run for 12hrs but only ran 2! There were some crazy runners who did run for the full 12hrs and they deserve a huge round of applause! The event was hosted at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and I was impressed by the organisation and turnout of runners and spectators. I was really happy to see that running has grown so rapidly in India and I hope it continues to do so.
I used the 2hr run as a time trial to test how much distance I could cover without really killing myself. I started off a bit too hard but then managed to settle into a steady rhythm. I held my composure for the first hour but decided to push for the second hour. This is where the real test began. Could I push and maintain for at least 30mins of the second hour and then hold for the last 30mins? I knew it was going to take some grit but I tried nonetheless. Arjun was one of the fastest runners on the track alongside me and we happened to be at opposite ends of the track. I was aiming to increase my gap from Arjun and I knew at the back of my mind that Arjun was looking to close the gap. This is what I love about sport! Healthy competition is what will always drive you to push your body beyond what it is capable of achieving. As the saying goes; the body achieves what the mind believes!
It was a tough hour as both Arjun and I were battling for that gap. It turned out that the gap neither increased nor decreased at the end but that ‘gap’ made us fight against the pain our legs were facing.
Arjun managed to cover just over 30km in the 2hrs as he ran slightly faster in the first hour whereas I was just shy of the 30km target. What mattered the most was that ‘running’ was victorious and we had a great time on the track.
I look forward to many more races in India and hopefully the tri scene will eventually pick up!