Santhosh Gowda doesn’t believe that being fit should be a trend or a fad but a lifestyle choice and he talks about how this choice turned his fitness journey around.
“Being healthy and fit isn’t a fad or a trend. It is a lifestyle choice.”
Santhosh lives with this in mind and has always pursued an active lifestyle right from school into college where he played different sport like basketball, badminton, and kabaddi.
Stepping into my running shoes.
In 2014, Santhosh joined Infosys as a technology analyst, and he met with several colleagues who were ardent long-distance running enthusiasts. The whole concept caught his fancy and he decided he wanted it to give running a shot. In 2016, he took his first steps towards running by joining a running group in Infosys called “HappyFeet”. This group is driven by Aakriti Verma and Sampath Kumar who are Ultra Trail runners themselves and have represented India at the World Trail Championships.
Santhosh looked forward to the training sessions at Happyfeet as each day was interesting and fun with different workouts spread across 5 days such as strength training, easy runs, drills, core and ab and speed workouts. “HappyFeet weekly sessions are designed in such a way that it motivates everyone to attend the sessions. During the weekdays, I trained with Aakriti and Sampath whereas weekends, I was accompanied by Vinay (my running partner) on long runs. The training I receive here has helped me to stay injury-free and become a better runner over time. Nishanth and Preethika have been my pillars of support and have pushed me to go beyond my limits in running”, says Santhosh.
From baby steps to the ultra-runs.
Since 2016, Santhosh has run distances ranging from 5K to 100K and has done over 75 events through varied terrains from road running to trails to ultras and even trail ultra-marathons across the country. Having run various events, Santhosh’s personal favourite has been trail running. To this, he says, “Trail running makes me feel one with nature and every race is unique in its own way”.
Santhosh transitioned into ultra-running about 9 months ago and so far, he has completed 10 Ultras. When asked, why Ultra runs, he says “Firstly, I think it needs you to have a lot of patience, you cannot directly run an ultra-distance without proper training for months. I was running distances from 5K to 21K for 2 years before I ran my first ultra in 2018. It was only when our team ran from Bangalore to Hogenakkal (125km) where we split the distance over 2 days of 50km each and finished the last 25km by car (which was our support vehicle). This run gave me the much-needed confidence to take on the ultra-distances. The Hennur Bamboo ultra (50km) was my first ultra-race and I stood 3rd at the event. To me finishing an ultra-marathon is a state of mind which says ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”.
With his sheer determination and commitment to the sport, he has gone on to win podiums at several events. To name a few:
- Vagamon Ultra 2019 – 90km – Winner
- The Buddha Trails 2019- 65km – Winner
- Malnad Ultra 2018 – 80km – First runner up
- Deccan Ultra 2019 – 75km – First runner up
- The Coffee Trails 2019- 62km – First runner up
- SRT Ultra-marathon – 50km – First runner up
- Jawadhu hill Ultra 2016 and 2017- 25km – Winner
- Bangalore Stadium 12hr relay run 2018 – Team Infosys – Winner
- Chennai Trail marathon 2017 – 21km – Runner up
- TRORT 2016 – 21km – 2nd runner up
- Urban Stampede relay run 2017 – 5km – Winner
The present and the future.
The Buddha trails (part of the Hell race series) has been Santhosh’s recent win in May 2019. Incidentally, he is the only Indian to have won this race. This race is considered to be the toughest trail-ultra race in India and only 3 of the 11 starters finished the 65K distance. Talking about his experience he says, “The Buddha trails is a unique trail with breath-taking views from the top of the Sandakphu mountain and has a cut-off of 12hrs to finish. To climb up is tough because of its steep climb, altitude(3600+mtrs) and less oxygen at the top. People usually take 4 to 5 days to complete the 65km trek which I competed in 9hrs 56mins”.
He further adds, “I did not do anything specific with regards to training for this race. Along with my regular training sessions at HappyFeet, I included some hill runs and maintained good mileage/week. I always try to give my best performance and in the process learn a lot from it and winning a podium is just an added compliment”.
This year he has his eyes set on completing the Solang Sky ultra (Manali), Malnad Ultra (Chikmagalur) and Bangalore ultra. He finishes by saying, “Running changed me a lot and more importantly running made me live a healthy life”.