Nilgiris Ultra 2016

Ultra #4 – 2016 #NilgirisUltra 100k

Completed in 14:35 Hours and finished on top. My first podium finish that too on a Killer course makes it a very special one.

This was one of the Ultra which i wanted to do after my first Ultra in 2014. Registered last year but the event got cancelled due to Rains/floods in TN and hence carried forward to current year.

Niligiris Ultra with 3088 mts of elevation gain is a tough course on the Ooty Hills. Starting from the city the route goes through Lovedale till Upper Bhavani and return back totalling 100 kms. After speaking to a few people who have done this race before decided to go with personal pacers.

Three wonderful souls Babu Suresh, Aswaththa Narayanan, Senna Kesavan agreed to join this madness. The plan was to finish in 14:59 hours with specific time cut-off for every 25k.

Anticipating a delay in reaching Ooty had requested K7 and Aswath to reach early and attend the pre race briefing also collect my bib. While Suresh joined me in the delayed drive from Coimbatore and eventually reached Ooty around 5:30 pm. Skipped lunch to have an early dinner owing to a 2 am start but could not finish dinner before 8 pm. Cooked our own dinner having brought rice from Mumbai so that my system is in control.

Alarm went-off at 12:30 am since I had to reach the venue before 1:30 am for a medical. Had a quick shower and rushed to the venue.

Fear of Unknown – 0-25k

The race started at 2:20 am after unsuccessfully waiting for the medical crew who couldn’t reach the venue on time. The freezing temperature, pitch darkness and virtually no sleep created my worst fear though attempted to put up a brave face. Started quite slowly until I got my rhythm. We were stopped at couple of places by cops wanting to know what the hell we were doing on those inhumanely hours. Kavitha kept following us in her car and guided us till we got out of the city limits. Not a soul could be found on the roads other than the street dogs who somehow felt threatened by our presence and kept barking. After Lovdale the visibility was very poor with complete fog. I kept running with Vikram from Bangalore who ran a 80k at Goa last week. I was continuously looking for the road marking so that we dont miss the route during those wee hours. We saw two of the runners taking a wrong route and we stopped and shouted at them by that time they were already turning back. As per the plan I should reach the 25k mark in 3 hours and will be joined by my crew. Aswath would pace the next 25k.

Dawn – 25-30k

Reached the 25k in exactly 3 hours as planned. Had my first round of elixir (curd rice) which we made the previous night and started the run with Aswath. The plan was to reach the 50k mark from here in 4 hours as this stretch had the highest elevation gain. Aswath pushed me hard in this stretch and we reached the aid station at 37.5k. At this point I realised that I was leading the race as some of the 75k runners who were ahead of me took a u turn and went back. With some curd rice and water refill we started again. This stretch till the 43rd km had quite a few down hills and we were rolling. But the 7-8k stretch before 50k was total uphill, fatigue started creeping in and I was struggling. Sunil, a strong runner from Bangalore who was behind us almost caught up with me when I reached the 50k mark. We were 15 mts ahead of our 4 hour plan. That’s 50k in 6:45Hrs

U-Turn 50-75k

With some body stretching by Suresh and a dash of curd rice started the run back. K7 was to pace me from here till 75k. But Aswath was all charged up and wanted to pace me till 62.5k. We were flying on the down hill and reached 62.5k mark quite comfortably. K7 took over from here and with quite a struggle reached the 75k mark in some 3:15 hrs.

To the Podium – 75-100k

I was totally drained out after 10+ hours of pounding my quads and calf. The stretch from 73k to 86k had the nighmarish elevation gain and I know i have a task in hand with my body started playing the bloody old dirty tricks on me. K7 and Aswath took turn to bring me back to senses. In some stretches I was walking/running with my eyes closed. With huge sigh of relief reached the 85k mark. Suresh did his best to stretch my muscle and every muscle of my body was screaming in pain. Had a Red Bull here and motivated myself to start the run as we had plenty of downhill in this stretch. Sunil reached the 85k mark visibily drained when i was about to leave that aid station. I knew if i can stretch here i will be able to finish on top. Suresh joined me around the 94k mark to pace me till the finish.

Suresh: Sir, are you fine?
Me: I’m not…
Suresh: Where is the pain?
Me: Total body…

He kept quiet for sometime. He told me this is your time to glory if you can run the next 5k, podium is yours. And then we started running and I was floating. With tears rushing down I entered the finish line with a huge sense of accomplishment….what’s NEXT

Kudos to The Three Muskateers Suresh, Aswath and K7 without them I couldn’t have accomplished this.

Overall a well organised event by Globeracers and kudos to Kavitha for pulling this one through in style…

I dedicate this special run to a special kid, first grand child to my parents and my niece Sanjanaa Narayanan. I want her to take up running and make me proud sometime…

Bhavani, Arya and Yashu continue to support and bear with my Insanity…God bless them…

Time for some zombie walk before I hit the road again….

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