Long-Distance Sportsmanship | Ultrarunning

first_imgLong-Distance Sportsmanship | UltrarunningIndia’s ultrarunners are covering impossible distances and discovering a new endurance.advertisement Next Shail Desai New Delhi October 11, 2019 ISSUE DATE: October 21, 2019UPDATED: October 11, 2019 12:55 IST The running men Ashish Kasodekar with a crew member at the La Ultra in August; and (below) runners at the Himalayan Crossing in Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti Valley.To finish a marathon, you’d have to run all of 42.195 km. While this can be daunting for most, the distance is now passé for some. In ultrarunning, the definition of endurance has been stretched to new extremes. In August, three ultrarunners set a new benchmark. They ran a staggering 555 km at the 10th edition of La Ultra, overcoming the thin air of Ladakh and climbing over 17,400 ft on five occasions.One of the finishers was Ashish Kasodekar from Pune. The 48-year-old, who runs a travel company, worked double shifts to pull off a weekly mileage of about 160 km: “It wasn’t enough, but races like these are more of a mental game. And it’s vital to pay attention to nutrition and recovery.” To endure the long and winding distance, and to suffer nature’s tribulations, conserving the body is key. From freezing blizzards and extreme heat to rollercoaster trails of dust, sand and gravel, runners prepare for the worst. It explains why, at times, the gear in tow seems like a walk-in wardrobe, ready for anything thrown at them. Rest and sleep are vital to keep hallucinations at bay.”Every race is different. What I learnt from the last one may not be applicable for the next. Over time, you realise you are mostly competing with yourself,” says Amit Kumar, who started running in ultras in 2018, but had taken up running when he joined the Indian navy decades ago. As part of training, it isn’t uncommon to experiment with things outside of running, such as meditation. “You have to break down the total distance into smaller units; only then is it possible to finish such races,” says Dr Rajat Chauhan, a sports medicine doctor and race director of La Ultra.advertisement Though an Indian team has been competing abroad for the past few years, most runners in India are running only part-time for now. Ultrarunner Lt Cdr Abhinav Jha, for instance, works with the special forces in the navy, but had represented India at the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) 100 km World Championships held last year in Croatia. “I was selected in the team on the basis of my performance at the Kuching Ultra, but had to spend my own money to go to Malaysia,” he says.Most, however, swear they line up at the start line to spiritually connect with themselves. “It’s like a rebirth of sorts. These challenges make me very humble,” says Nischint Katoch, who still looks forward to the battering handed out by the brutal Solang SkyUltra, even after having run every edition. For Katoch and others, there is no real finish line.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byKritika Bansallast_img

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