Bangalore Ultra Marathon 2011 – It’s tough, are you?

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, November 14, 2011

The 5th edition of the Ultra Marathon which was held at Our Native Village at Hesaraghatta [as always] yesterday was my first Ultra. As mentioned in my previous blog post, I had reduced my running category from 50Kms to 12.5Kms considering the state of my left foot. This was more of a safety net I chose for in case I could not complete 50Kms on the race day, I did not want my name in the list of DNF [Did Not Finish]. Though my new category was of 12.5Kms, at the back of my mind I had a thought to run few extra miles and complete 25Kms. Well, Ultra allows that. Only thing is, the timing certificate will still be given for the officially registered category.

I woke up 5AM in the morning and left home around 5:20AM towards Hesaraghatta. Though people  had suggested me to take the road via Yelahanka-Rajanukunte, the route was quite unfamiliar to me. I did not want to risk it and reach late for the race. I took the Hebbal-Goragunte Palya-Tumkur Road route instead. The directions to the venue were very clear and descriptive in the Racer’s Kit. The frequent hoardings by the side of the road guided me whenever I was in doubt. Ultra as well as RFL insists on car pooling. I was more than willing to share my car / take a ride to the venue, but most of my running acquaintances living close to my house were going on their own. I thought it would be foolish to share my car with some strangers in the wee hours by posting an ad in the site or anything.

12.5Kms category was to start at 7AM. I reached the venue around 6:45AM. As soon as I reached I realized that it would be a trouble to carry my car keys with me while running. My running shorts did not have pockets. I was ready to keep my wallet and mobile phone in the car but where would I keep the car keys. The lesson learnt is that I should have gotten my waistband to carry this little stuff while running. Luckily the wrist band I was wearing could hold the car keys! I stuck my keys inside the wrist band and noted in my mind to keep checking the car keys while running. Going to the race ill-equipped is like not able to learn that one important theorem before going to the Maths exam. I pinned by BIB to my t-shirt and headed towards the start point. All the 12.5Kms guys were given red colored bib, green for 25Kms and I think purple for 50Kms and more.

The start point was quite far from the parking place. The 75Kms, 100Kms race had begun at 5AM and 37.5Kms, 50Kms race 6AM. The special announcements about the senior citizen’s participation, people who shared their birthdays with the race day and participation of last year’s winners went on for a while. There were also instructions about the refreshment counters at the frequent intervals of the trail. I was surprised to see not many people stretching when race was about to begin in few minutes. I did a bit of stretching which is very very necessary before the long distance running. It was time to say, ‘on your mark, get set, go!’ Like all the marathons, the people crowd a lot in the initial 2-2.5Kms, which curtails the speed and hence affects the time of people who run little faster than the aam-junta. I manoeuvred to attain my normal pace of running. The initial 2-3 Kms of race route always sifts the grains from the chaff. What remains after that is seriously trained runners. And I must say, there was very less chaff in Ultra. After all, Ultra is known for its tough trail and only the trained runners participate in this.

I had caught a guy who was running with pretty good pace that I could keep up with. He kept pulling me for quite some distance. I think after 5Kms of running, there was a slope where that guy maintained his normal speed and I had to slow down. Many 12.5Kms runners overtook me as well as participants from different category who were on their 2nd lap of the race. For the next 5kms or so, a colleague of mine and me kept overtaking each other alternatively. It inspires me when such a runner is around. This went on for a while. I slowed down to sip some electrolyte at a refreshment counter. By then my colleague took a significant lead over me. I think around 7Kms [I do not remember this precisely] the runners had to take U-turn of the lap. My timing chip tied to my shoes beeped for the 2nd time when I stepped over the magnetic mat, the first time was when I started. My white running shoes had turned red because of the mud on the trail. The return from the U turn to the starting point was getting tougher and tougher because of the Sun. I had started sweating profusely. I kept hydrating myself with more liquid at the refreshment counters. An old problem revisited. The chapped nipple! The friction with the T-Shirt causes chapped nipple to long distance runners. There was a severe burning sensation in my right nipple. For me, it is always the right nipple that gets chapped more. Being a rightie, I think it is to do with the way I swing my right arm more while running. Runners usually apply lubricant to their nipples to avoid this. I prefer putting a band-aid over the nipples to avoid the friction. I had forgotten this on the race day. I kept asking for the band-aids in the refreshment counters. The two of the counters did not have it. I kept running in pain towards the finish line of the lap.

The board on the way read 10Kms. I looked at my wrist watch. I had taken exactly 1 hour to complete 10Kms. That was not my best timing. I had lost pace because of pain and also merciless Sun. I was left with 2.5Kms more. I made up my mind not to let more than 3 runners overtake me till I cross the finish line. I think that was too ambitious of a strategy. Within the next 1 Km, more than 5 strong runners overtook me. 

I put all my energy towards reaching the finish line. Diya burns bright before it dies . I went past the final curve to the finish line. I could hear people cheering the finishers. I pushed myself hard to reach the finish line. Made sure nobody overtook me from that point. Ran under the arch towards the point where we had started our race from. I could hear a female announcing on the microphone, “Here we have another 12.5Kms finisher”. One of the volunteers presented me the finisher medal. I looked at my watch. I had completed 12.5Kms in 1 hour 17 minutes. Not bad, but not good either. Ultra announces the position and the timing of each of the participant in 2-3 days. Will I hold a position within first 50 runners off the 300+ runners? Well that would be too much to hope for.

By the way, with these many thoughts running in my mind, soon after receiving the medal, I returned for the 2nd lap. I had made up my mind to complete 25kms. The burning Sun had turned more violent in the 2nd lap. I had reduced my pace significantly. My right nipple’s complaint was still not addressed. I held the front of t-shirt little away from the chest for a while. But this was just the temporary solution. The moment I let my t-shirt touch my chest, the pain used reoccur. I had started feeling hungry. I munched pieces of sandwiches, oranges and drank lot of water at the refreshment counters.  I ran really slow towards the U-turn of the lap. Thank God, the refreshment counter there had the band-aids. I stuck two of them to cover my right nipple properly. This avoided the friction and pain vanished. That does not mean, I started running well after that. In fact, I was just pushing my body too hard to complete 25Kms. 

Umpteen number of participants overtook me. Kudos to their zeal and fitness levels. After 16Kms or so, I stopped running and started walking. Thinking that it would be a good break for my legs and then to start again. I usually never do this. The problem with this approach is it breaks the momentum. The more I walk, the more difficult I find it to resume my running. I kept run-walk-run-walking for few more kilometres. I saw the board that read 22.5Kms. I was left with 2.5 Kms more to finish my first ever 25Kms mark in an official marathon. I decided not to walk any more till I reach the finish line. I tried to gear up. But my legs were too tired to run anymore. My hands were gesturing of a run but my speed was nothing more than a brisk walk. Few runners had gathered around a fainted runner!! The help by the doctors and the medication was timely I hope. The delay in these situations could prove fatal. The doctors there said runner’s pulse rate was very low. I felt sad for the person. I stood there for a while. A doctor injected him to bring him back to consciousness. I started running again.

Somehow, I managed to reach the finish line. I had finished 25Kms in 3hours 27 mins! That means, for the 2nd lap of 12.5 Kms I had taken close to 2hours 15 mins. 1 hour more than my first 12.5Kms. That is pathetic.

To sum up my first experience in Ultra, I ran 12.5Kms successfully and barely managed to complete 25Kms.

Comments (7)

Good to see you back!

I am planning my luck in a couple of months :-)


Nice to see this detailed description of the run, I shall definitely start my running again :D


Sure. I will give you tips for free, ask me.. ask me :)

great.. :)

Your blog took me into a flashback.. man i miss my running days. once upon a time i used to clock 12.5 sec in 100 mts... now i cant run 12 meters. :D

Good post.



12.5 secs!! man, u were just 3.x secs behind Usain Bolt ;)
Jokes apart, resume your running... Its an awesome thing to do.

dude there is a difference of sky and earth in those 3.x seconds. :D

district/state level sprinters clock 10.5 to 11.5 secs.

national level sprinters clock 10.x seconds


Yep, Yep.. I knw. To better one's timing even by 1 second is a Herculean task for them.

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