Auroville Marathon 2012 - Part 2

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Get Set, Go
I had told Jitendran that that was my first Full Marathon. An excellent runner by himself, he asked me if I have set any timing goal to finish. Being too ambitious in setting my goals, I said I have set 5 Hours in my mind as target. 5 Hours is a good time to finish a marathon.

Amol and Akshita wished Romel and me for the race. Few minutes before the race, there was an announcement about having a group warm-up session. An old white lady was giving us the demonstration of various stretching postures. We all followed her. We were all given a torch as, there were no lights on the way of trail.

At 5AM sharp, the whistle was blown. I started my first ever marathon with hundreds of other runners. The bunch was really diverse, from few college students to 60 year olds. Yes, marathon running is indeed a sport for all ages.

The spilt timing and the ‘complete surrender’
Though I found it tough to make way and run carefully on the mud trail with just the light spot emitted by my torch, few minutes into running, I got adjusted to it. Fair amount of moonlight too helped us.

I finished my 10Kms in 1Hr 06 mins. I do not think I could have run better in dark on an unfamiliar mud trail. After 10Kms the fair amount of sunlight made us run without torches. I finished my 20Kms in 2Hrs 14Mins. Not bad either. I had not lost much of pace. Some seasoned runners say marathon running is like meditation, some say experiencing Runner’s High is a joy incomparable. I felt a tad philosophical too while running. Osho says, a real disciple should completely surrender to his master. There should be no element of doubt in his mind about his master or master’s teachings. Though my heart agrees to it, my mind has often raised the finger like an inquisitive student who is disliked by the teacher. But I was an obedient student on this trail. The tired legs were directed towards the destination by the signboards always. I never questioned it, I was damn sure that the trail will surely lead me to my destination. There was the complete surrender Osho referred to, I had completely surrendered myself to the trail.

The tough part and the ‘spirited’ last lap
To reach 30Kms, I seriously struggled. I had lost my pace. I did a bit of walk-run-walk. I drank more and more of electrolyte and water at the aid stations. Had few bananas and orange slices too. Different aid stations gave us runners different food supplements. Some supplied dates, some chocolates, some groundnut chikkis. But, all of them had bananas and oranges in common.

I reached 30Kms mark in 3Hrs and 35Mins. The run between 32-33Kms to 38Kms was the toughest for me. The Sun was blazing already; the humid weather of Pondicherry had squeezed every drop out of my body. I walked a lot and ran intermittently. I dropped my ambitious target of 5Hours to finish the marathon and stuck to the realistic target of 5hours 30Mins.

When the signboard read 38Kms, I know I was not very far from my first marathon. I am not sure, where that reserve energy was all that while, I attained a good speed. When some of the runners who had overtaken me were walking, I overtook them as if some spirit had gotten into my body.

The much awaited finish
When I was done with 42Kms and it was the last 200 mts left for the completion, A thought came across my mind whether to celebrate the finish with a swear-all jig like Virat Kohli does or a gentle acknowledgment like my idol Dravid does after his every century. The people near the finish line started clapping loud and cheering me. I can’t believe myself that I was almost into tears! Remember the scene in ZNMD where Hrithik gets teary eyed after finishing his deep sea diving? I had totally empathised with his character while watching it, but now after finishing the marathon, I experienced it. Finishing a marathon gives you a great sense of achievement; it makes u feel humble and strong at the same time. It makes you thank your own body, that we always take for granted. As a fellow runner told me before the start of the race, the joy of finishing a marathon is simply inexplicable, it can only be experienced.

Auroville Marathon 2012 - My first ever Full Marathon

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Garibrath Express – the unofficial carrier of marathoners and my new friends

The Garibrath Express from Yeshvanthpur was at 11:30PM on 10th Feb. As soon as I got into my designated bogie it was obviously evident that my bogie was full of marathoners. After the formal exchange of ‘Hi’s’ ‘Hello’s’, the topic of conversation turned to Auroville Marathon.

I met Romel, a passionate photographer and a marathon runner from Arunachal Pradesh working in Bangalore. We had an instant connection because Romel too had never run a Full Marathon before. He often said how he was feeling the butterflies in his stomach. Romel introduced me to his college mate and fellow photographer Arindham, who was in the same bogie with his family for marathon. Romel later gave me his website’s URL. Visit their site NOB-Photography, I must say Romel and his friends are indeed a talented bunch of photographers. Ask Romel, what does NOB mean, he jokingly says, None Of your Business? 

Taking part in these marathons is more fun because of the interesting people you get to meet. After getting down in Pondicherry station, Romel introduced me to two more of his friends Amol and Akshita who were taking part in Half Marathon and were in another bogie. Incidentally all the 3 of them had booked room in Anandham Residency, the hotel where I had booked my room. Instead of taking an extra bed in Amol and Akshita’s room, since Romel knew I was alone in my room, he asked me if I was willing to share my room. I had no problems at all.

The night before the D-Day
On the day we reached Pondicherry [11th Feb], we had to collect our BIBs from Auroville Visitor’s Centre. I left my hotel room soon after refreshing. I had plans to hire a bicycle and roam around Pondicherry. Then eventually I decided to cycle to Auroville to collect my BIB. I was little sceptical about straining my legs on the previous day of the marathon, but I decided to go anyway. Romel, Akshita and Amol took a wise decision of going to Auroville by bus/auto and collect their BIBs.

I was little tired after cycling for nearly 40 Kms to collect my BIBs. I had an early dinner and returned to room. Romel, Amol and Akshita were out for roaming around the city. 

Auroville Full Marathon would start at 5AM and Half Marathon at 6AM. The organizers had arranged for the pickup from major hotels in Pondicherry quite early. The bus would come close to our hotel at 2:45AM. So Romel and I decided to sleep early. But like the night before a major exam, both of us did not get sleep at all. We kept discussing a lot of stuff about running, running events, practice tips etc. At last we dozed off around 11:30. That means we effectively slept for 2.5 hours that night.

The official carrier of marathoners
Romel wanted to take shower before leaving. The idea of wetting my body at 2AM in the night did not enthuse me. I just brushed my teeth and got ready. Amol and Akshita too joined us though they were running half marathons and their pickup was another hour later. They accompanied us just to cheer for us before the race. That was really nice of them.

Raja Talkies signal was the exact pickup point for us. The four of us stood waiting at the signal. The very idea of standing on a stranded street in an unfamiliar city at 2:30 in the night is insane. These are the insane things we would cherish for a long time. Jitendran Nair, an ex-commander in Indian Navy too joined us at the pickup point. It was only when we got to know that he is retired from Navy, we could guess he would be around 45 years of age. Otherwise he was looking like a guy in his thirties. He was damn fit. See, what running does to the external appearance of a person.

The Swaraj Mazda arrived to our place at 2:50. It picked up lot of guys on the way to Auroville from other major hotels of the city. The atmosphere was electric. We all felt like soldiers in an army truck heading towards the warfield.
                                                                                                                             (to be contd...)