Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kaveri Trial Marathon 10km RUN – 14th September 2013

THE TRAINING and THE MOCK RUN for heat training

Our KTM training started towards the end of June and the training program was a steady build up towards the 10km Time Goal target that I was aiming at. I had done my time trial and got a 1:26 as my targeted time to finish my 10km run.  

Our Runner’s High coach usually takes us to Srirangapatna for a mock run a fortnight prior to the actual run on the same course. The run is started a bit late during the day so that the sun is up in the sky and blazing at us as we trudge along the trial in heat that we are not used to being the snobbish Bangaloreans that we are. We curse the coaches, we curse our families, we curse our friends and we curse our fate and stupidity for having believed that we are runners.

The mock run was exactly the horror show that we all had been promised and we all came back exhilarated for having survived the run and being alive to talk about it. I was thrilled to be awarded as the most improved runner and which is a testimony to the fact that from walking I have improved to running a decent pace with all the huffing and puffing. More than anything, it was an award that my running community had given me which I had coveted and will always cherish.


I was very excited about the KTM run as it was the first time that I would be doing the KTM run and I was very curious about it and very excited. Everyone was talking about the horrors of the KTM and how it would be a nightmare due to the humidity and it is called the toughest trail run not without reason.

The start point is the Srirangapatna Bird Santuary and the end point is the Balmuri waterfalls. Since the trial is very narrow, to avoid crowding on the trial, the organisers have prudently made the start point and the end point different. It is an A to B race and we do not start from point A turn back at point B and return to point A. This is to the advantage to all the runners as we get to run on the trial that is the most
scenic, most pristine and the most untouched by human commercial activity trial in all of India. You do not find a single house, hut or concrete building or any construction for the entire 10km stretch.  

We arrived at the start point well before time and there were a lot of high fives, back slapping and hi, hello good morning etc. The start area was crowded with more than 800 to 1000 runners and we were wished good luck by the Runner’s High full and half marathoners who had come a day prior to their runs just to cheer us.

The speech was long but it was very interesting to me as it was the first time that I was hearing the young race director talk about the route, aid stations, history of the race and the course records etc. He mentioned Santhosh and Runner’s High to loud cheering and applause by the huge RH community present at the venue. I am sure that there were at the very least 100 participants in the 10K category from RH itself.

Usually I quieten down at the very beginning of the race. My mind calms down and usually the thoughts I have are always the same. I contemplate on the last few days of training, what I have gone through to get to the race line and the wonder that running is and how it has changed my life irrevocably. It is very interesting that it is usually the same sequence of thoughts with just the chronology changing a bit here and there. At that time, I remember very well, I thought that just the fact that a couch-potato like me who always made excuses for any kind of physical activity or exercise and who led a sedentary life style, is at this start line waiting for the flag to be waved, ready to run,  is a very big achievement in itself.

The training we have been through is something that I marvel at each and every week that I receive the mail with the training plan of that week. Each time I read about the ladder workout or the Fartlek or the speed workouts, I feel like an athlete training for the Olympics. Santhosh always mentions in his last pep talk mail that we must call ourselves athletes and I had not believed it in the first 2 or 3 seasons. But at that point in time I completely believed it because at that time I felt that I am already a winner as I am standing there waiting for the start gun in my head, waiting to run.

The start was three minutes late according to my watch. But when the chequered flag was waved, we all set out to a whoop from here and a hoot from there. The first few minutes was a walk due to the crowd as each of us tried to make way through the hundreds of people slowly plodding or jogging their way about. The Cauvery River to our left and the fields to the right with the trial in between is a sight to behold. There were stacks of sugarcane at several points waiting for the tractor to come and pick them up and take them to the market or the sugar factory as their destination.

There were many goats for company and they were unusually quite. Several villagers passed us by in scooters or two wheelers. Some were walking by us and some were standing and staring at us. Some village children cheered us on or joined us for a short distance running with glee and sniggering at the old city folks who have lost their minds and are running. A village woman who was riding pillion on a motor bike was telling the rider of the bike that these village folk must have paid an amout to come and run here and she was wondering how much we might have paid.

Some conversations my other friends had with the villagers:

When one of the runners overheard a conversation and replied in Kannada
Villager: Oh! You know Kannada, so you are from here
Runner: Yes we are from Bangalore and many of us know Kannada
Villager: Why do you folks run?
Runner: Because we do not do the household work and the field work that you people do. So we run to keep healthy
Villager: OOOOhhh!!! Heegooo unte (Translation: Oh my! Is there something as ridiculous as this)
Villager: Do they give you food or do you just keep running
Runner: They don’t give us food if we do not run
Villager: Bewildered look Come and pull out the weeds with us

Villager: Do you pay to come and run here
Runner: Yes
Villager: Did you also pay?
Runner: Yes
Villager: How much did you pay?
Runner: We all paid Rs.1000.
Village: Oh My! In our village no one will pay Rs.1000 to run.

Coming back to my run, as I started along I had it in my mind that I need to do a good time. I know Santhosh says that timing is not important and we need to enjoy the run and the beauty around us. But, in some unfathomable way, I had this notion that I must run fast and get a PB. So out went the tortoise and the hare story of Santhosh and in came my own theory that I must run fast in the first half of the race as I usually tire out during the second half and start walking. Added to this was the memory of the mock run where I had walked the entire distance from 6km to 10km. So, despite being reassures that the actual run will be better than the mock run as we have started one and a half hour early, I started running fast at the first instance. I maintained an 8min pace up to 4 km. I reached the 5km aid station well within my set target time.

I had worn the new fuel belt that my sister had sent me and I got a few admiring comments from many runners who were running behind. After the 5 km mark I slowed down to a walk and saw many runners run past me. I was disheartened that I was being overtaken by so many. I met Chandana and Ashutosh on the way and decided to stick with them. Ashutosh heard my loud breathing and huffing and puffing and advised me to take it easy and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful surroundings. But I had my own agenda. I had decided to race against time.

My fuel belt was my accomplice in my strategy to get a good time. I did not stop at any of the aid stations to save on those few minutes and walked past them sipping water from my fuel belt. Each time I over took Chandana and Ashutosh and they over took me during my walk breaks. This continued on and on till finally I lost them completely when I took a longer walk break. I have noticed that when I am lost in thought and forget myself and forget the fact that I am running, thats when I would have covered a considerable distance and suddenly I come back to the present and lo and behold! I am farther than I thought that I could have been. 

I reached the 9 km mark and decided to run as much as I could. But my body was refusing to run and  I had to really coax it, cajole it and threaten it into running. I came up to the bridge which is 600mts away from the finish line where we had to cross the bridge and take a detour of 150mts and come back. It was a very narrow bridge with a two way path and runners running out and runners running back in.

Alas! When I reached the end of the detour and turned back a bullock cart came by and we all had to stop to give it the right of way. After all we are the trespassers and are using the trial and the bridge that belongs to them. We have borrowed it from them for those few hours. We had to walk behind the bullock cart and the runners who had to enter the path had to wait for the bullock cart to pass and give them the way. It is a real compliment to the running community that not one runner complained about this or cursed about this reducing their time or spoiling their run.

Finally I got back on course having successfully completed the detour and not getting lost! At the 300mts mark I was struggling and walking to the finish. I saw Santhosh and he yelled “come on Asha, no walking, the finish is just around the corner and you have to finish strong”. There was a very steep incline looming large ahead of me. I told Santhosh “no santhosh, I cannot run”. He said “after the up you have to run”. I saw a very reasonable possibility in this option her had given me. I said “yes”. I walked with renewed purpose and strides up the incline and ran with new vigor and determination.

I blazed to the finish completely exhausted but feeling right on top of the world at having finished a tough race but came out with flying colours. I was breathless and trying to catch my breath as a volunteer came and asked me if I wanted water or Enerzal. I said I just want to catch my breath. After that I asked someone for water and someone else went running and got me water. Felt like a superstar to be pampered like this. I realised I had not collected my medal and went and asked the volunteer for one. He put it around my neck and I felt like an Olympian receiving her medal with the national anthem playing in the background. Must say that by these small attention to details the organisers manage to make us feel like champions which makes us come back to KTM year after year.

My phone beeped and I got my timing and was thrilled that despite everything I had got my PB. I might not be the fastest runner around, but with each run I am improving and with each run I am learning something new. Each run has become something important and an irreparable part of my life.

 When people say running is a metaphor for life I have not understood what it means. But running for me is something that I have found all of a sudden. I had not known that all my life I was looking for something to giev meaning to my life without even realising that I was searching for something and suddenly I find that running is fulfilling that need. Running has completed my search. Now a new quest has begun on the roads or on the trials during each run where I get newer answers and more questions.


Why did this post take so long in coming? Almost a month?

First of all I was not very sure about my writing capabilities, my command over the English language, my grammer, my creativity and skills in writing. I used to just write to compose my thoughts and give vent to all teh buzz going on in my head. But I felt that I should not torture people into reading my poor attempts at blogging, not that I was much of a blogger and waste other people's time in reading my ramblings and mumblings.

Also, I was not getting the words to express and write about my KTM run. All I could remember was the next day's cheering session and the fun that we had on our return journey.

But all of a sudden my friend asked me why I was not writing anymore and I thought why not!? I opened a new blog page and out came the words pouring all oevr the screen. I have not editied them and they are raq and direct. I apologise for any mistakes and errors and am open to any teasing and welcome any ribbing that I might get from everyone.



I will post a few pics very soon! Promise!!



  1. ahaa :-)... what a brilliant piece...was so engrossed. Your writing is keeping pace with your PB at running.
    Enjoyed reading every bit of it.It is like watching a nice little movie with little twists and turns. And you can go on.

  2. Hey Asha, reading thru your blog, felt as if I was running once again… you have captured KTM trail very well and have written beautifully… keep the blogs coming