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Illustration Friday – Nature

July, 2015 · By admin

From the “Puglee” series starting on instagram: instagram.com/athreyachidambi

Javadhu Ultra 50K race report

July, 2015 · By admin

Sunday night (12th July) was the best sleep I had in a long time. I was out at 8pm and only awoke at 7am the next morning. I owe it to the Javadhu 50k I ran that morning.

It all started five weeks prior to Sunday when Rahul asked me if I was doing Javadhu (all trail and it goes through a forest – just up my street!), I was a bit sceptical. It wasn’t in my training plan and since I had planned to do KTM in September, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. The 25k was a possibility but all the slots were all filled up.

Two weeks later D asked me the same question, and he said he was signing up. Trail and two people asking me the same question was too much! I signed up the same day and since there were only three weeks to the run, D and I did all the long runs together. It was good doing long runs with some company as the past four years most of my long runs were on my own.

Training was simple, try and keep the mileage above 60 miles a week for the next two weeks leading up to the race. We did two runs at Nandi hills, and one close to the Nice road.

Of course the inevitable happened during the week leading up to the race. I came down with the flu. Luckily no fever, but a cold and a sore throat. So the entire week till the night before the race I was on antibiotics and using large amounts of tissue.

Fast forward to the weekend of the race. D and I drove to Javadhu the previous day thinking that getting there would be more than 3.5 hrs and it can’t take that short a time. 3.5hrs later sitting in the car outside the race starting point we looked quite bored. D’s wife had sweetly packed us lunch, which we ate slowly trying to kill some time.

It was quite warm, but there seemed to be quite a bit of cloud cover, I hoped it would stay that way the next day. We killed the next four hrs by sleeping, reading and wandering about the school, we were staying at.

The organizers kindly advanced the bib distribution to 5pm and we collected our cloth bibs, t-shirt and food coupon for dinner. It was back to killing time till the rest of the runners got in.

Dinner was served at about 8:30. I was quite hungry by then and looking forward to getting to bed early. I quickly finished dinner and spent some time arranging stuff for the next morning.

The alarm rang at 2:30 am. So you could say we had an early morning! I had barely slept for 3hrs as there were quite a lot of people up late. D and I managed to get to the loos without much of waiting. The indian style loo was quite a challenge if you’re not used to it. My only fear was being not able to get up!

The race started at 5am after a 15 min warmup, we were off. It was dark and had no idea who was ahead and how many. Our torches came in handy though a bit difficult to run with them in our hands. We deposited them at the second aid station. I made a mental note to pick it up on my way back. I’m glad it stuck! D and I ran for the about 10 miles together (part road for first 3k) and then I increased my pace a bit as my legs were feeling good. The course was quite undulating, as opposed to what we imagined it to be. I had thought it would be more like Nandi Hills where I would run slow the first half (25k) and run hard most of the way back, which I expected to be downhill. I was mistaken!

There was a cool breeze throughout most of the run, that helped. A large chunk of the trail is very stony that makes it hard to run at a steady pace.

I hadn’t past any runners in a while and was wondering how many were ahead. At the next aid station I asked how many runners were ahead. They said three. I was surprised. I had imagined a lot more. Close to the 13 mile mark I came across Sampath who was looking strong. I ran past him and was sure he would catch up. I still hadn’t seen the front two and didn’t know who they were.

I saw Jim and the second runner running towards me, about a km from the turn around. They looked very strong. About 1 km to the turn around is all downhill so it’s a good thing to remember that it’s uphill on the way back – basically save some energy!

At the turn around I was welcomed warmly by all the volunteers who quickly gave me what I needed. Sampath ran in just then. I left the aid station and slowly ran back. I met D, and was good to see he wasn’t far behind. My legs had started to feel tired, my only hope was that they would not give up on me.

I had never really walked in a race as part of race strategy. But to save my legs I decided I would walk all the uphills. I slowly plodded along admiring the beauty of the trail. The sun was out, but the cool breeze was keeping us sane.

On the return I ran into all the other runners for the 50k and 75k. I tried to encourage as many runners as I could, as I feel it raises the positive energy of the race. For the next few miles it was pretty much running on my own, with the occasional runner/s passing in the opposite direction.

I came across the the runner running with Jim (didn’t realise he was doing 75k till D mentioned it!). That was a crazy pace for 75k!

Every aid station I stopped at the volunteers were very encouraging that helped lift your mood. ‘Pink building!’, that was my reminder to collect my torch. I found it with ease. One of the volunteers said, “the first runner is three minutes in front – you can catchup!” My legs were feeling the same for the last 10 miles so I had no intention catching up. I just wanted to finish on legs that felt good.

Mile 25 or 26 I saw Jim, I could tell he wasn’t doing well else he would have finished the race well before I would have. After catching up with him I asked him how he was doing and he mentioned that he was feeling quite dizzy. I didn’t want to leave him in that state and especially didn’t want him to have a rotten first 50k! We used the same strategy and walked up all the inclines. I tried chatting with him to distract him and take his mind off the terrain and heat that was getting to both of us.

He managed to keep a fairly steady pace. We stopped at the last aid station before the finish and asked him to have a banana or at least have bits of it till the end*. I left Jim at the 1.5 mile mark as I felt he seemed better and carried on till the finish, which by the way is uphill!

My legs served me well and was happy to have finished first (~4:16) in a pretty decent time and on 1 gel (usually have 3-4 on most races). I sat down cooled off and waited for the rest of the runners to come in.

Jim came in shortly after and then it was good to see D come in third.

Of course D made fun of me for not having a medal and that they were waiting for him to come to hand them out.

Kudos to all the runners – especially the 75k runners for braving the heat! Thank you to all the volunteers.

Tips and learnings:

  1. Practice on a rolling course
  2. Walking up inclines is not a bad thing. You’re brisk walking and running paces would not be very different.
  3. It gets a bit noisy in the school – if you get stressed about sleeping – sleep on the terrace or get your own tent.
  4. Wake up early to use the loo. 2:30am may be a bit early but it all depends on your level of patience to stand in a queue. Also there are only 3 loos in the close vicinity.
  5. Torches are helpful to see direction markings and the general way. A head torch will probably be better than a hand held one. Remember to collect it on the way back – pink building!
  6. Don’t drink too much water. You’ll end up feeling very bloated and sick. It’s good to stay a bit thirsty.
  7. It gets hot, so carry a cap / glasses (especially for bangalore runners!). Having salt tablets helps if you sweat a lot. Carry them in the small zip-lock bags you get.

Javadhu website: www.facebook.com/javadhuhillsultra?fref=ts

My run on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/344976463

Photo courtesy Edwin Antonysamy