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Best running trails in South India

You never forget your first trail experience, and once you conquer that, you become addicted to running in the lap of nature, writes Radhika Meganathan.

Letting your feet take you through colourful, picturesque scenery and feeling the rush, the thrill, the sheer joy of running… we know what you are looking for, so here are five South Indian trail races that you must not miss!

Nilgiris Ultra

The 70km terrain of Nilgiris Ultra takes you through “dirt tracks, mountain roads, steep hills, forest roads, mountain valleys and tea estates,” as described proudly by its organisers. You will not only run past shola forests and tribal settlements, but also wind through stunning tea estates and waterfalls. The course flows up and down until the last 6km, so let’s remind you once again that this trail is not for the weak-hearted, but if you are prepared for it, you will be rewarded immensely.

When: December 8, 2018

Starts from: Heart of Ooty town, and ends at Upper Bhavani reservoir

Details at https://www.webscorer.com/register?raceid=118448

Kaveri Trail

There are three categories: 42.2 km, 21.1 km and 10 km, leading you through the famous Kaveri belt. Since the trail forms a part of the land adjacent to a bird sanctuary, runners would be able to see over 150 varieties of birds. As you run, you will be taking in glimpses of wildlife, even families of otters diving for their dinner. Do stay away from the waterscapes and marshy areas, the marsh crocodile is not an animal you want to meet during your run!

When: 24th and 25th November, 2018. Registrations will close once all the slots have been filled, so do not delay.

Starts from: The race will begin and end outside Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. Transport (paid) is offered from Bangalore and Mysore to the base of the marathon.

Details at http://kaveritrailmarathon.com

Hampi, Badami, and Coorg

When: Go Heritage Run is a crowd-pleasing and award winning organiser of races at various heritage locations in India. Some of their offerings this year cover the historic sites of Hampi, Badami and the biodiversity hotspot of Coorg, taking you through some fantastic natural scenery including forts and caves, forests and ruins. All runs are held only on Sundays.

Starts from: Various upcoming dates, check with the official calendar

Details at https://www.goheritagerun.com/2018-calendar/

Though the two races below do not technically form part of trails, we are including it in this list because they take place in lush green ambience!

Spice coast marathon

God’s own country Kerala plays host for this marathon which has been meticulously designed in such a way that the runner soaks in the key sights and landmarks of the historic beach town Kochi, for every kilometer stretch that they run. In addition to a full and half marathon, there is also a 8km fun run for those who want to do this at their own leisure.

When:  Nov 11, 2018

Starts from: K K Premachandran Sports Complex, Willingdon Island, Kochi

Details at http://spicecoastmarathon.com

Auroville Marathon

Originally a celebration event on the 40th year anniversary of Auroville, this marathon became an annual, non-commercial race with categories of 42km, 21km and 10km. All participants who finish are considered winners, hence it is not a timed race. Go for it, to experience the beauty of a planned township with its red earth and lush vegetation and sustainable architecture.

When: 2nd Sunday of every February

Starts from: Auroville. The route map will be uploaded on the official website two weeks before the event.

Details at https://www.marathon.auroville.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

 

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The Comrades of 2018

He just concluded Comrades Marathon had a lot of surprises this year, writes Nandini Reddy

The 89km Comrades Marathon is the world’s largest and oldest ultra marathon race. The event sees 20,000 runners from 60 countries competing to win the coveted race. The allowed time to finish the race is 11-12 hours and every year at least half the number or more tend to finish the race in the allotted time. Runners who apply for this race have to finish a full marathon within 5 hours to qualify. The race was run for the first time in May 1921. This year’s race’s official distance is 90.18 kms.

This is also an inclusive sport that sees many specially-abled athletes compete. This year, we saw amputee runner Xolani Luvuno pursuing his dream of competing in the Comrades with the help of crutches.  He was given 5 hours extra to complete the course.

The Comrades Marathon of 2018 saw the South African’s dominating the leader boards. Comrade marathon saw South African’s finishing in the top positions with timings of 5:26:34 hours by Bongmusa Mthembu in the first spot in the men’s category and Ann Asworth (6:10:44mins) in the women’s category. Mthembu won his 3rd race this day. Ashworth reclaimed the crown for South Africa this year.

What it takes to cross the finish line?

This world race has a lot of preparation behind the marvelous feats of the runners. It firstly required a lot of stamina to cross the finish line and can be daunting as the hours progress.

  1. Apply Vaseline all over your body to prevent chaffing
  2. Nutrition en-route is important so carry your own supplies
  3. Ensure your shoes are comfortable to prevent toe injuries
  4. Right clothes to prevent rubbing and rashes
  5. Take a bathroom break at regular intervals

Unscrupulous athletes are present in every marathon but if you decide to run the wrong way then you are likely to be served a ban.Entering the race with unverified qualifying times and lying about the qualifying times is the definite way to get yourself banned for life. Improving your seeding through false timings won’t get you very far but every year the Comrade organisers face these situations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Not Another Brick in The Wall

Ever imagined what it would be like to run along the Great Wall of China, well you can says Capt Seshadri.

“Unless you have climbed to the top of the Wall, you cannot say you are a man” – old Chinese saying.

The Great Wall of China is reportedly the only man made structure that is visible to the naked eye from the moon, although it is probably now under intense competition as one of the oldest structures in the world, from the new, mammoth constructions in the Middle East.

Competition is not new to this Wall, having been originally constructed to keep out invaders and raiders. The latest in competition, however, though unwarlike and healthy, is the Great Wall Marathon that is traditionally held on the third Saturday of May, falling on the 19th of this year. Having taken its origin in 1999, with a few hundred runners, this extremely challenging course has, over the years, transformed from a full and half marathon, a 10k and 5 k event, to a combination of the latter two to an 8.5 km ‘fun run’.   

The run isn’t all about fun however, with the participants having to negotiate 5,164 stone steps, several steep ascents and descents and, owing to the old age of the structure, stumble over loose stones and rubble. This portion makes for a virtual addition of 6.4 km to the 42 km course. In fact, there is a stretch where people actually crawl up the steps. Now, every marathon has a phase, generally around the 32nd km or so when the runner literally ‘hits the wall’ of endurance. Here, it may be taken as a little more than literal.

The ‘runnable’ portion of the Great Wall Marathon essentially traverses the Simatai section of the Wall and crosses the Huangya or Yellow Cliff pass. Such is the height and the location, that the best respite for the runners is possibly the breathtaking scenery along the route. But the view is not the only aspect of the marathon that will take one’s breath away. Loose gravel and crumbling steps are compounded by sections overgrown with wild foliage. In sectors where the Wall is not traversable, the course drops to trails alongside. The challenges are many and varied and make extreme physical demands on the participants. The steps, the upward slopes and downward gradients, are typically suited for those athletes who regularly do interval training.    

Every marathon, in its present avatar, to encourage amateur participants and reward completion rather than winning, usually has the final batch timed in at 6 hours. The Great Wall Marathon however, sets a time of 10 hours for completion; such is the difficult nature of the course. On an average, the finisher of 4 hours for a regular marathon will require around 6 hours to finish here. This has not been the least bit of a deterrent to over 2,500 participants from over 50 countries. No wonder then, that the men’s record for this run is 3:25:13 and for the women it is 4:12:42. Henrik Brandt, a Danish runner, who has competed in every edition for the past 18 years says: “Some years they’ve almost killed me; but since this was the first marathon I ever ran, I fell in love with it.”

Of the 1,200 runners entered for Saturday the 19th, around 450 will start the marathon and half-marathon. The rest will run the shorter distance for fun.

All and all, it’s just another brick in the Wall. Or, is it, really?  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Run for Fame or Fun

Capt Seshadri looks at the Santa Barbara International Marathon that can bring you closer to your Boston dreams.

Are you a keen runner? Do you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Want your family to enjoy a scenic vacation? And join them after the run? Here’s a simple solution to all these. Just run the Santa Barbara International Marathon.

Beginnings

It was as early as in 1965. Marathons outside of the Olympics were virtually unknown. In Santa Barbara, a picturesque town in California, a group of distance runners created a marathon that was to continue for nearly two decades, till 1984. The debut event saw 27 runners start the race, that began at the University of California Santa Barbara and concluded at the Santa Barbara College. Only seventeen crossed the finish line. The event slowly gained some popularity, and with the start and finish both being shifted to the College, the maximum number of participants in the first series, in the year 1977, rose to 354. Those days, there were no aid stations and no traffic regulations to make the course exclusive to the runners, who had to vie with vehicular traffic on the roads. Over time, the event died a natural death till it was revived by the untiring efforts of a runner couple.

Racing with the Race Directors

Rusty and June Snow, co-directors of the Santa Barbara Marathon, actually moved base from the East Coast to bring this event to Santa Barbara. It took a few years of persuasion and cajoling, but the couple finally brought it off in 2009, on December 6, to be precise. There was both the usual marathon and even a relay event, with close to 2,000 runners participating in both events. After this rebirth, there was no looking back for this dedicated couple who even collected the leftover water bottles and snack bars and donated them to the Santa Barbara Foodbank. The discarded clothing was given to Unity Shoppe.

The thoughtfulness of the race directors was key to making the event a tremendous success, year after year. In 2011, a sum of $ 5,000 was donated to the Community Environment Council, from the simple expedient of allocating $1 from the entry fee of each participant. Commented Rusty: “We need to be thoughtful and protect that place we live and run. One reason people come to run the marathon is to experience the beauty of the region. We want to protect that for years to come, for our runners and for our community.”

The Route Plan

The Santa Barbara International Marathon takes the runners through some of the most scenic routes on any marathon trail in the world. Beginning in Goleta, the route winds through the town and towards the outskirts of the University town of Isla Vista. As the runners close in towards Santa Barbara, they are met with a fairly steep incline. But after they have puffed their way up the hill, they come face to face with the majestic view of the endless Pacific Ocean as they now run down the slopes and onto the finish line at the Santa Barbara City College Stadium.      

The time is early May, on Mothers’ Day weekend, the best season for running or even for leisure activity in this part of the world. Spoil yourself with choices from the full course, the half marathon, or even run the two-person relay. And as the organisers say: “Run with, or for your mother!” Finish your run, relax and head for ocean activities, or hike, bike or chase history. Or celebrate your finish at the post race Wine & Music Festival at the Solvang Park.  

Run the Santa Barbara Marathon. Run for fame, or just run for fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Scenic Marathon – Pembrokeshire

Amid the Coastal Trail Marathon’s, Pembrokeshire is one of the most scenic marathon’s of the UK, that will flag off this Sunday, writes Nandini Reddy.

Pembrokeshire boosts of being the only coastal National Park in Britain. With its jagged cliffs, sandy bays, coastal villages and coves, it promises to offer spectacular views. The course is challenging as well with an undulating terrain that takes one over grassy paths, beach trails and a jagged coastal route. Here you can choose to run a variety of distances ranging from a 10k to a half marathon to a full marathon and then an ultra (55k). This marathon is listed as one of the top 10 ultra marathons in the world. here are some scary climbs on this undulating run, but some epic descents too, and the glorious views of the ocean are guaranteed to take your mind off your jelly legs.

While the finish line is at Little Haven for all, the start lines are staggered along the course. The start times are generally not published and participants are generally given a start window. This is because the route can be a bit narrow at certain points and in order to prevent a bottle neck they use a chipped start, giving preference to elite runners first. The other fun aspect of this run is that you can run with dog. You will be asked to start later than the rest of the group but you are allowed to bring along with dog for the run. The only expectation is that the animal is well-behaved and is on a lead the whole time.

Trail runs like these are not similar to the city marathons because the opportunity to see people or meet support staff will happen only every few kms. Only the 10k participants have one water station which will provide water in cups. The other distances will have to carry their own water containers. The water stations are few and far between but are comprehensive as they provide carbohydrate and salt replenishment options along with spots to refill your water containers. But food at these stations is limited hence participants would need to carry their own.

There is also listed cut off times for participants. Cut offs are along the route; there are no ‘Finish Line’ cut offs. There is also an event prescribed safety kit that you are expected to carry. All participants are notified ahead about the same and it includes mobile phone, cash, first aid, cap, windproof jacket, whistle, foil blanket, head torch, etc. If the runner wants to retire early from the race, they would be allowed to do so at any Checkpoint.

The event does promise an after-party in Little Haven for all the participants, so there is something to look forward to after the run. This is one marathon that is defined as ‘epic’ by runners across the world and is one of the best ultra trail marathons you can experience. Its all happening on April 28 and if you missed it this year there is always next year for which you can start getting prepped.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The hottest London Marathon

Nandini Reddy takes a look at one of the most anticipated marathon’s in the world, the Virgin London Marathon 2018.

Whenever we think London Marathon we think rain, but this year the rains decided to visit Boston and the sun will be out in full force this Sunday for the 38th Virgin London Marathon 2018. While that has become the talking point of the marathon this year the marathon is attracting its share of elite runners and celebrities. The marathon is also famous for the number of runners who turn up in the zaniest of costumes.

Here are a few things you need to remember when you run the famed London Marathon this year

  • There will always be a queue for toilets so be prepared
  • Find your place in the starting corrals because it will take at least a mile before its free running as the crowd spreads out
  • You will be running with gorillas and Batman, so get ready to have them whiz past you
  • If you like seeing the sights then you can look out for The Big Ben, Isle of Dogs, Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays to name a few
  • Crowds will cheer you on through the way; absorb that energy
  • Don’t be too surprised if you hear someone yell you name, its on your BIB and people are just calling out encouragements
  • As you near the finish line, the crowds will get louder and more boisterous. It can be annoying or encouraging, depending on how you view it

The Heat

Weathermen are saying that the temperate is expected to spike to 24C. Thus far the record of high temperature has been 22C. This unreasonably warm weather might play spoilsport for all the runners who want to run in costume. For the regular runner, remember to dress wisely. Also not over exerting themselves keeping in mind the warm weather would be a good idea. While there is an expected short spell of rain, experts feel that this will slow the race down because it might make the running surface slick.

The Elites

More than 40,000 people will be lining up to run the London Marathon this year. Among the elites, we have Sir Mo Farah back in action this year and is looking to best his time of 2:08:21 that he set in 2014. Last year’s winner Daniel Wanjiru might not be deterred by the temperatures and will be looking to repeat last year’s success. The Kenyan, Mary Keitany is back again to defend her title against fierce competition from Ethiopian runner Tirnuesh Dibaba who lost out by mere seconds in 2017. Gladys Cherono, a fan favourite at the Berlin Marathon will be running the London Marathon for the first time this year.

Running for a Cause

Like all big marathons, London attracts a host of people supporting causes. The big charities have a host of celebrities running for them. But there are many interesting smaller stories like a Norfolk teacher running to raise funds for a hospital that saved her son and the father running a bear costume to raise funds for his daughter’s treatment. The most exciting one that many will be watching for is Simon Kindleyside, who will be running his first London Marathon with an exo-skeleton suit instead of a wheelchair. Simon is determined to complete the course, so that he can show that being paralysed shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving their marathon dreams.

There might be changes in personal best timings if the heat becomes too unbearable but if runners remember to hydrate and aim finish the course, they should be better off.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Ready, Steady, Bhaag

The biggest North East Marathon is waiting for you, Bhaag North East Bhaag. 

Guwahati invites you to run the biggest North East Marathon on April 1 – Bhaag North East Bhaag is here. The first international run that will see elite runners standing at the front lines, it is a race that aims to bring out amateur and experienced runners in large numbers.

Runners can register for a times 10k or 21k or just enjoy a day out with a fun run with the family. The runners registered in the 10k and 21k categories will receive a free T-shirt, personalised bibs and timing chips. A total prize money of Rs 60 lakhs are up for grabs for the winners of the elite cateogory. To participate in the elite category participants will need to provide timing certificates of a previous run. For male participants the timing has to be 72 mins or less and for female participants it has to be 90mins or less. There are also age-wise categories that participants can win prizes in.

The 10k run also has a total prize money of Rs 7 lakhs and is open to Indian nationals only. There is a cap of 2000 participants in this category and the age limit is 16 years and above. The fun run and dream run will have three starting times and it is for a distance of 4km. The age limit for these runs is 12 years or older.

Special corral markings are made for all runners so that you can easily find your category on race day.

Action Changes Things

Bhaag North East Bhaag aims to promote a Clean India through the funds raised from the marathon. The North East has always been a forerunner in social cleanliness initiatives. Following their motto of ‘Action Changes Things’, the organisers hope to raise community awareness and institute community led initiatives to promote a Clean India.

A reason to enjoy a run

If you are a fun runner, this marathon has something special for you. All participants can avail a flat 50% discount on groceries in the grocery carnival at the Khanapara ground just after the Run. Grocery retailers will offer discounts on groceries, a 50% discount on groceries for participants of the race is expected to serve as an incentive for people and get them to associate with the cause in large numbers. The entry for the 4km dream run is also at an unprecedented low of Rs 50.

For visiting runners 

If you are a visiting runner and its your first time in Guwahati then you should explore the sprawling city along the Brahmaputra river. If you are a nature lover then you can head to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary or the Assam State Zoo. You can also visit the famous Kamakya Temple. You can also extend your stay and travel the remaining sister states of the North East. But before you return remember to take back the renowned Assam Tea.

The registration is open to only 20,000 participants so remember to register now.

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A run for the eco-warrior

The six city SBI Green Marathon is a must run for every green warrior, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Set to be the biggest single branded race in India, the SBI Green Marathon is all set and poised to be one of the most entertaining marathons in the country. The purpose of the run is to celebrate the passion for environmental stability and sustainability and create a better future for generations to come.

Venkatraman Pichumani is the race director for the SBI Green Marathon. A seasoned runner who is a regular half marathoner at the renowned Mumbai marathon, Pichumani is the first Indian to be certified as a Race Director by RRCA with international accreditation.

Staying on track to their commitment, after each event their will be a sustainability report generated which will talk about the various actions taken during the course of the event to minimize the environmental footprint and maximize the social impact. This will be a public document that anyone can access.

The event shall develop and implement a community focused environmental education engagement plan, such plan may include social media posts, emails as well as lectures and presentations to the stakeholders about how running events can minimize the environmental impact.

Special Giveaway

This race is indeed special because of the many giveaways that promote awareness about protecting the environment and motivate everyone to become a green hero. Select participants will receive a special T-shirt made out of plastic by PlasticIndia Foundation. During the launch the organisers revealed the largest T-shirt created from 200,000 plastic bottles, setting a new Guinness World Record. The

T-shirts are made from a special cloth created from 100% recycled plastic bottles. This is definitely a collectible!

The Plantable Bib – yes you heard right, this running bib has a special use after you finish your race. It is especially designed to be planted, ensuring that you continue your commitment to the environments. At the end of the race each participant can take home a sapling that they can nurture and grow as proof of their commitment to have started on their journey for a better and greener Earth.

Race Categories

The serious runners can opt between a timed half marathon (21k) and a 10k race category. For those who want to have a fun run with the family there is a short 2k run and a dream run for beginners for a distance of 5k. If you want to have fun with a crowd then the 2k run might be perfect pick. If you have just started running and want to see how you perform in an actual race environment the the Dream run (5k) is the good place to start.

If you want to check if you are reaching your goal timings then the more serious 21k and 10k should be the ones you need to set your sights on.

Marathon Schedule

Mumbai – Feb 4

Delhi/ Bengaluru – Feb 18

Chennai/Ahmedabad – Feb 25

Chandigarh – Mar 4

If you missed it in a particular city ensure you make it to the next one. You can book you race participation at https://goo.gl/jZ8p9V

A unique race that promises to be a unique experience.

 

 

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The Mesmerizing AU Bank Jaipur Marathon

This February, run through the vibrant city of Jaipur, is a must on every travelling marathoners list, says Nandini Reddy

The mesmerizing pink city of Jaipur invites runners for the 9th edition of the AU Bank Jaipur marathon on February 4th,2018. One of the most spectacular marathon’s in India, whose flat course tracks through the most scenic routes through Rajasthan’s vibrant capital city.

Run the Spectacular Marathon

The race offers a whole host of options for both elite and amateur runners. The full marathon and half marathon have separate categories for elite runners and amateur runners. The other timed running category is the 10k run. If runners wish to participate in the elite category then they would need to submit valid timing certificates at the time of registration. For participating in the open category, no timing certificates are required. The marathon will start from 3:50am with the Elite Full Marathon category and the final category of the fun runs will begin at 7:30am.

Apart from that for those who want to enjoy the scenic running route and the joyful celebration on race day there are plenty of fun categories such as Joy Run, Dream Run and Youth Run – all covering distances of 6kms.

Trying to set a social message, a different category called ‘Beti Bojh Nahi Hai Run’ for 2 kms has been included. The Senior Citizens Run for 3kms and Wheel Chair Run for 6km finish the categories offered during this year’s Jaipur Marathon.

The runners can enjoy the culture and traditions of Rajasthan as they are showcased along the race route.

Enjoying the Pink City

The Jaipur marathon offers tour packages for registered participants who want to spend time before and after the marathon exploring the delights of the city of Jaipur and the many wonders of Rajasthan. The packages include stays ranging from 2 days to 4 days. They include city tours and special shows that will give you a glimpse of the best of the city and culture.

The Cause

The run is organised by Sanskriti a well-know social organisation that has undertaken several social welfare projects that have created awareness about culture and traditions to the youth. This year the World Trade Park is a partner who is showcasing their world-class property that offers excellent services to business sectors.

Remember to tag yourself on social media with the hashtag #AUBJMRUNNINGHEROES if you are running, volunteering, donating or just cheering the marathon. A run that showcases both the modern and traditional spirit of the city is one you should not miss.

Register Now for AU Bank Jaipur Marathon==>>https://goo.gl/57UHYV

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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