In Running

Last Sunday, the Chennai Runners went on the much awaited long distance run from Toll Gate (in the outskirts of Chennai) to Mahabalipuram. 28 kilometers distance. 27 members turned up for the run at 4:30 in the morning. That means, guys like me, who live on the other side of the city, had to wake up as early as 3:15 am to make it to the starting point on time.

We all met up inside the city at two locations (Alwarpet & Anna Nagar) at 3:45 am to carpool our way to Toll Gate which is about 15 kms away from the city. The reason why we chose the far away location is to avoid the congested city roads. The East Coast Road, where we made the full run, is a fantastic picturesque route which runs right along the ocean all the way to Mahabalipuram.

We spent some time warming up and working on our stretches. We’ve trained long enough to know that slacking on the warm up can lead to injuries during the long run. Vidyuth, who is our ‘drill master’, made sure that we did the stretches well.

Do you see those small strips glowing the runners’ dress? Those are small reflective stickers that Ramesh, one of our fellow runners had the foresight to bring along for all of us. At 5:00 in the morning, it is still quite dark and its not exactly safe to run on the highway. Such small details greatly enhance the safety of the runners.

We had another member of the team, who owns a mineal water plan, sponsor cartons of drinking water bottles for the entire team. He could not join us for the run but the water greatly helped the entire team.

KK, who is the main organizer of the run, is seen here writing the emergency phone number on the stickers. Should someone need help, all they need to do is call this number. We had four wonderful volunteers helping us with all support tasks. It was dark and hence you see a guy holding a cell phone to throw some light for KK to write those numbers.

We made sure that we ran on the right side of the road, facing the traffic. Here you see Shumit, one of the runners running on the Muttukadu bridge.

Runners in action. You can also see two volunteers handing out water to the runners.

The team of Abhi, Sathish, Aravind and Jay did a stupendous job of supporting the runners. All four of them are runners and have participated in marathons. But they chose to sacrifice the run to help out the team. Amazing team spirit. Without them, half of us would not have finished the full race.

Some of the runners were way better than the rest of us. Seen here are the early finishers who are relaxing and tending to the pains on the lawns of Surf restaurant. The hotel staff were kind enough to provide cold towels and lots of ice to soothe the pain.

That’s my peloton. The smile on our faces say it all. We finished the distance and it was a personal best for all of us. The four of us stuck with each other in the second half of the race, the tougher part.

There were amazing personal stories. Rajesh, the guy in the grey tshirt and shorts, is 100 kilos heavy. Its not easy to run the distance butRajesh had the sheer grit to want to come back to being fit and lean again. Supratik (red& white tshirt) and Sundar (in blue) have never run past 10kms before. This is the longest distance they have covered in their entire life.

Our gang was the last to finish, but we were absolutely determined. Each one of us kept egging on the others to continue in spite of all of us experiencing a lot of pain.

Honestly, if we had run separately on our own, none of us would have finished the race. Its because of the team spirit that we clung on. Each of us would fix a small distance for us to finish and we took turns fixing our targets. We would walk a little and then continue running again. Towards the end, the pain was unbearable and none of us could run. We finished the race by walking.

As we entered the hotel, everyone gave a rapturous applause and that was a touching gesture. Sure, we finished last, but the support and encouragement from the team symbolises the amazing spirit of the Chennai Runners.

After a sumptuous breakfast, where we gobbled up Idlis, Masala dosas, Pongal, Upma and Vada, we got together for a group photo.

The special equipment on Hari’s shoes calculated the exact distance. 28.2 kilometers. It also calcurates the speed of the run.

We all headed back in Shahid’s van back to Toll gate where our cars were parked in his palatial beach house.

I was on a ‘high’ the whole day. I started the race knowing that I won’t be able to cross the 10 kms mark. I even brought along money to hire a auto or take a bus to Mahabalipuram. I beat my own expectation. I broke that glass ceiling. I’m now more determined to train for the marathons.

The next big run is going to be in October. Next time, longer distance. This will happen once every quarter. However, we will continue to train for shorter distances (15 kms) every Sunday and even shorter runs (10kms) during mid weeks.

Ram Vishwananthan and KK have interesting writeups about their experience in the run. Recommended reading.