Monday, October 29, 2012

Vasai Virar Marathon - a tough one to conquer

Vasai Virar Marathon – a tough one to conquer

It was a late decision to run the Vasai Virar Marathon on October 14th. There were a few other commitments coming my way and by the time those commitments were cleared and i was free to run the Vasai Virar marathon, i guess the entries were closed. But thanks to Anand and Bruno Goveas who is the main organiser of the race, i got a late entry.

There were no butterflies in the stomach at the prospect of running a 42 kms race because i was intending to take this as a practise long run for the marquee event in January i.e. the Mumbai Marathon.

So bibs received the previous day we went by Raj’s car to the Viva College in Virar which was the starting point for the race. Alongside me were legends of running like Bhasker Desai and Raj Vadgama and young upcoming marathon runner Sandesh Shukla. Sitaram Meena another young and refreshing marathon runner was in another car.

Mani had arranged with his friend for a room near the starting point which was a blessing in disguise for us because we could refresh ourselves before starting off for the race as well as relax afterwards. The starting point arena was agog with activity befitting a city marathon with pandals, police barricades, scores of volunteers, announcements galore.

The race was to be flagged off at 7.00 a.m. but almost got off three minutes before itself in the enthusiastic melee surrounding the event. Ultimately it got flagged off at the right time and off were at 7.00 a.m. along the roads of Virar.

The first five kms wound through a village and it was amazing to see the number of people out on the streets cheering and rooting for us with all their might. People of all walks of life and all ages and many school children were cheering, rooting, shouting, exhorting the runners amidst a cacophony of live music, drum beats, bugles et al. The adrenaline rush was tremendous and never before in all the races have i encountered such a cheering enthusiastic crowd. The non-stop cheering just lifted our tempo and myself along with Sandesh were going at a fine clip of 6 minutes per kilometre with nary a struggle or effort. There were plenty of water stations along the road and the two flyovers were encountered on the way up was dismissed with the contempt that regular hill runners give to such flyovers.

Sandesh had set a target of 2.15 for the first half but we were well within that time limit passing through 21 kms in 1.59.32 seconds, a personal best for me and a first time that i had run that distance in under 2 hours. So one achievement already under the belt.

From 22 kms onwards the pace started dropping for me but Sandesh was going strong so i advised him to carry on nevertheless. A combination of heat and traffic started affecting the runners later on exacerbated by lack of water and medical aid in the latter part of the race. There was only sporadic cheering from now on, but whatever cheering brigade was there they were very enthusiastic and rooting for even one runner. It was very enervating to the tired legs. The traffic started getting denser and the heat was affecting the runners more at this juncture. I had one gu-gel with me which i thought i will take only at 37 kms when i need it the most. There was one gentleman who was providing glucon-d powder and it was like a manna from heaven. I got one small packet of parle-g biscuits at around 24 kms which gave me tremendous strength to push through another 3 to 4 kms comfortably. I was looking for a banana vendor along the way but looks like Vasai Virar is not a banana country because i could not espie even one such vendor along the route. But the people on the street were very friendly and encouraging and clapping for the runners along the way.

At around 35 kms i got talking with a young guy all of 16 who had run the 7 kms race and had come 22nd in the event. He was pretty enthusiastic about long distance running but i advised him not to overdo the stuff. The toughest part was between 23 to 30 kms but after crossing that milestone i was pretty damned sure that i am gonna finish and from the time on my watch, with a decent personal best. After 37 kms we again enter the village belt but this time the sun was beating down mercilessly though the traffic was negligible along this route. The only worry was water getting over but thankfully there  were many good Samaritans along the way providing water at exactly the right stage. Mulraj Gala came at around 38 kms and gave some cold water which was a great relief. Finally the end was in sight and ran down to the finish in a personal best time of 5.07.00 hours.

I would say it was a gruelling tough marathon due to a late start and not sufficient water on the return leg. More volunteers on the return leg and especially when the runners were finishing would have been great but i guess the organisers would improve upon it next year. Their heart was in the right place though and the sincerity was evident along the route. This is one marathon which i feel is going to grow by leaps and bounds in the future. .  .

So that concludes my racing calendar for the year having run 4 events only during the year, three of which were first timers.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ultra Marathon Man

Just finished reading "Ultra Marathon Man - Confessions of an All-Night Runner" by Dean Karnazes - an absorbing and overwhelming story of his early athletic prowess, loss of his sister to accident, his subsequent forays away from running for 15 years and rediscovery of running to running ultra marathons to running crazy distances and impossible feats like running the south pole marathon, running 199 miles non stop etc. His heroic attempt at running the Western States 100 miler and succeeding first time and the Badwater Marathon and failing first time have been very poignantly told. A very nice inspirational story with dollops of quotable quotes for keeping in one's mirror or desktop. The paperback edition has given details of his training plan, nutrition, strategy etc. at the end so that helps in people who are planning to run short distances like the marathon instead of crazy distances like ultra marathon and beyond. A must read for all running addicts. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mumtaz Qureshi conquers the distance - 100 kms

Mumtaz Qureshi and Apurba Dass two runners from Mumbai completed an arduous feat of running 100 kilometres across Mumbai and parts of Thane on Sunday, 8th April 2012.

Starting off on Saturday at 11.00 p.m. from the Bisleri junction at Andheri east on the western express highway, the duo started with Kavin, Atul Tuli for company alongwith Mahesh Gune on the bicycle. Mayank and Aishorjyo were on a car which was carrying supplies like water, Gatorade, bananas, oranges, wafers, boiled eggs, chikkoos along with ice. They ran the whole night upto NCPA in South Mumbai where they were joined by Anand. There was a brief half at NCPA for recouping supplies of water, refreshments etc. and then they started running back along the same route back to Sidhivinayak Mandir. At the Mandir, Mumtaz got the divine presence of his coach Giles Drego who joined him at Prabhadevi along with Mehamood Anwar. From the Mandir, they took a right turn to go past Plaza cinema, Tilak Bridge and Dadar T.T.

At Dadar T.T. which they reached in the early morning on Sunday, they were joined by Mani Iyer, P.V. Subramanyam, Jitendra and Kartik Suresh and here the second car with Mohan Kumar gave company. The second car was also similarly stocked with supplies. By this time the team were running at least 90 minutes late as per the scheduled chart and route map which was carefully planned and made into a nice little booklet by Vikas.

Running down the Eastern Express highway now, they went past Sion and Chembur where they were joined at Chembur by Kshitij Sharma, Sunil Gwalani, Haridasan Nair and a couple of their friends. Giles Drego was running barefoot on that day and being his coach, was constantly encouraging him and guiding Mumtaz. Apurba of course was an old hand at running 100 kms and this was to be his 4th 100 kms run.

I joined at Chedda Nagar, Chembur at around 6.30 a.m. when the weather was still okay and the sun was not out yet. By then the duo had already completed 50 kms and looking fresh as ever. Mani’s mother had got up at 3.00 a.m. on a Sunday morning to prepare a big tinful of delicious idlis with chutnies. This was savoured by the runners at this junction. There were also vadas, wafers, boiled eggs to carbo load for the runners.

Mani had arranged with few of his office friends to come at specified venues at specified timings with fresh supplies of lime juice, water, dates, Gatorade etc., and the first of his friends Pandarinath Savanur and Satyadev Singh came at Kanjur marg junction with fresh & cool lime juice.

The sun was out by then and early morning highway was replete with Sunday cyclists who were puzzled to see a bunch of runners determinedly running – one of them enquired what this was all about and when told that a 100 kms run was on, he said he would have joined the run for 20 kms but not for 100 kms. Mumtaz was looking good at this stage while Apurba was going strong with a good pace.

The lead vehicles were stopping at every 2 kms to give the runners refreshment which was required at this stage because of the heat and humidity. Mayank who was driving the car all night long expressed and got his wish fulfilled of cycling a while on Mahesh Gune’s cycle which refreshed him a lot from the all night stress. It was a good team work going all around.
When we entered Thane, Dinesh Langauni had come with a photographer from Thane Plus to click some pictures and he enquired whether we needed anything specific in terms of supplies and quickly went round and bought a block of ice. The pace had dropped by then because of longish stretches of road with very little tree cover or shade whatsoever along the highway.

When we entered the dreaded Ghodbunder road it was choc-a-bloc with traffic and the space for running was very less what with lots of construction activity going on in the beginning portion of the GB road. By then Varun Joshi had joined us on his bicycle after doing an arduous 60 kms the previous day at Kharghar. Swami joined somewhere along the GB road with Venkat Krishnan for company and he had fresh supplies in his car. So now we had three cars going along and Swami decided to keep the cars at 1 kms distance each because the conditions for running at GB were very tough to impossible. But impossible is not a word which runners understand so there they were running along at slowish pace but the breaks at each water station were getting shorter. There were again few gentle enquiries from people and stares from few others because it was past mid-day and people were probably wondering what we were upto.

Sridhar B came on GB road with lime juice water, dates and brought his mother along for blessings, which was very kind of him. GB road took its toll on the runners because coupled with the hot noonday sun, there was no tree cover anywhere along the road and the road was brutally climbing at few places and to top it all, macadam work was being carried out on one section of the road which was emitting hot fumes from the tar being burnt.

When the runners finally hit the Western Express highway there was relief all round but it was another 16 kms to go for the finish line. W.E. highway again teeming with traffic on a Sunday afternoon but the going was okay at this stage. There was a determination to complete the distance against all odds which prompted both Mumtaz & Apurba to keep going on their feet by taking short breaks.

Pramod Pai appeared somewhere along the Mira Road with fresh supplies of water and most importantly beer cans which was for savouring after the run. So now we had four cars along with the runners. Another of Mani’s friend Nitin More and his brother came at BNP gate with orange Gatorade. There was only 7 kms to go for the finish line and the urgency of the runners were apparent in the determined looks on their faces.

Finally at 4.30 p.m. Mumtaz Qureshi and Apurba Dass reached Aarey check naka at distance of 100 kms from the starting point at Andheri, a staggering 17 ½ hours on their feet. It was a feat of endurance of unparalleled proportions in the deadly heat of April in Mumbai. Both the guys had showed that they were made of steel and the grit, composure and determination showed by both the runners was worth emulating.

The support for this run was magnificient right from the planning stage to vehicles, supplies, co-runners, friends, well wishers etc. coming out to support them. It was a daring plan to run across Mumbai and parts of Thane, so the logistics were to be meticulous, which it was. Exemplary efforts by the entire team of support runners for this event.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Auroville Marathon 2012 – nature’s fury, runners’ determination

Auroville Marathon 2012 – nature’s fury, runners’ determination

For a brief while after Cyclone Thane devastated Pondicherry in December, I had brief apprehensions regarding travelling to Pondicherry because I had received tales of the massive amount of damage that had happened due to the cyclone and how the homes, business etc. were all ravaged. I made few enquiries with friends who were going to Pondicherry to participate in the Auroville marathon 2012 and they suggested a wait and watch approach.

So, there I was on morning of Saturday, 11th February 2012 on a flight to Chennai enroute to Pondicherry. Unmesh had already reached Chennai the day before and had arranged vehicle for us from Chennai to Pondi and back and Jo & Pramod were to join me from Chennai. For a 6 a.m. flight, I had to wake up at 3.00 a.m. and a brief peek out of my window to check the weather suggested it was normal cold winter morning unlike the totally abnormal cold winter mornings that Bombay had been witnessing the past one month or so.

Chennai was misty when the flight landed at 7.55 a.m. We first had a hearty breakfast at near the Chennai airport and set off for Pondi which was a 3 hour drive from Chennai. On reaching Pondi found out that the hotel where I had booked my accommodation had inadvertently cancelled my booking, so there I was in Pondi without any hotel reservation whatsoever. Luckily the same hotel booked another room for us the International Guest House which was a basic room only kind of place with unbelievable room tariff of Rs.250/- per night.

Room having found and bags settled in, we set out for lunch at the promenade at Pondi which was a beautiful strip of smooth concrete road adjacent to the Bay of Bengal which with alluring blue waters was inviting us for a swim, but luckily I did’nt know swimming, so that part was left for others to accomplish on a later day. 

We decided to have lunch at an exotic chic open air restaurant called La Café which was veritably situated on the rocks so to speak. But they did not have anything worthwhile to eat especially for marathoners looking to carbo-load on the day before the race. So, off we went to the famous Saravana Bhavan on M.G. Road for a sumptuous meal at Rs.60/-. The meal consisted of a large portion of rice fit for 6 hungry people plus sambhar, rasam, curry &papad. Meals done we rested for a while in our rooms before deciding to head out to Auroville in the evening for collecting our bibs and listening to Barefoot Ted McDonald and meeting friends.

Auroville is a sleepy little commune created by French speaking people who believed in the principles of Mother – so they have a kind of holistic peaceful living – a kind of heaven on earth. Auroville is 13 kms from the main Pondi town of which 8 kms is a sleepy village which leads to Auroville. It is from here that we could see the kind of destruction that the cyclone had wreaked on the city. Mighty trees were uprooted and temple walls were broken down exposing the gods to the cruelty of nature.

Upon reaching Auroville, we immediately headed for the hall where Barefoot Ted McDonald was about to commence his talk. Since the hall was packed to the rafters, the venue of his talk was shifted to an open air auditorium which again filled up faster than one could say Barefoot Ted McDonald. When asked by one runner during his talk as to which roads in India were the best for barefoot running, BFT categorically said it was the Mumbai roads – smooth as a baby bum!!

Bibs collected from the venue, we waited for the pasta dinner at 7.00 p.m. It was the most delicious pasta dinner that I have ever had – a super round off to carbo-loading. Since the marathon was starting at 5.00 a.m. and half at 6.00 a.m. and since Unmesh, Jo & Mahesh from our travelling party were scheduled to run the full, we decided to start out the next day morning at 3.45 a.m. to reach the starting point venue.

On peaking of the window on Sunday morning at 3.45 a.m. I thought it was not cold at all – definitely not to worry about the chill factor. But the mosquito factor was a worry for sure because the previous night while sitting on the lawns waiting for the pasta dinner queue to subside, the mosquitoes surely sucked away copious quantities of my blood – probably one of the factors for my laggardly performance in the second loop!!

The Auroville marathon is a lesson in marathon organization. Everything precisely co-ordinated and neatly arranged in a low key manner – from the baggage counters, to the pre-race warm-ups to the beat of music, the announcements, water & aid stations, direction markers et al. The full marathon started at 5.00 a.m. in utter darkness but with all the runners going with a torch or a headlamp which the organizers insisted upon each runner to take as a necessity. The half marathon was to start at 6.00 a.m. but they deferred the start to 6.15 a.m. in order for some of the daylight to filter in and help the runners navigate the way in the early morning light, without falling over.

The half marathon starts on a tar road but quickly veers off into a trail road which is a kind of soft mud with loose top soil on it. There are gentle bumps on the road it is a pleasure to navigate these bumps because you are able to accelerate on the downside part of the bump. There are numerous twists and turns to the route but essentially major part of the route is on the mud track with loose soil. At one patch I thought the soil was like beach sand. There are gentle stones jutting out from track, but nothing treacherous to make one fall. There is also a small patch on paver blocks, after the 7 kms mark.  But what hits you as you run along the route is the extent of devastation and damage that cyclone thane has wreaked on this forest. Entire trees had been uprooted and at many places the trees had fallen on the roads, but the people of the community had done a magnificent job of clearing the path by cutting those trees and so you have those neatly cut trees staring at you at several places.

For half marathoners, the route was two loops of 10.5 kms each, but the kms markings were way off the mark. I did not get to see the 10K and the 20K markers at all. Since it was not an out and back route like the Kaveri trail and the Bangalore Ultra you did not have people coming back on the same route. But there was certain paths where the road was narrow and you had to say “excuse me” to the slow runners or walkers ahead of you. It was a beautiful route and the organizers had taken pains in charting a different path for the full marathoners and half marathoners by creating some additional loops for the full marathoners here and there.

I was enjoying the scenery and holding myself back until the half way mark. From 12 kms onwards, I started struggling so I slowed down the pace for a few kilometers and thought I should concentrate on the last 5 to 6 kilometres. Unfortunately that could not happen because of the humidity and my shoes were not giving me the grip to accelerate on the track – I took water breaks at all water stations after 12 kms mark and stopped by to pour water on my head and neck. I took electoral replenishment at one water station and one quarter banana. Since I was not able to force the pace, I thought next best thing to do is to stay the course and complete comfortably. 19kms went by and I thought last kms was mine so while I was waiting for the 20 kms the volunteers told me to take a left turn which immediately announced “200 metres to finish”. I was surprised because I had not espied the 20 kms mark. I immediately jacked up the pace and finished strongly in 2.11.13 hours a personal best in Trail half marathon and just 2 minutes off the absolute personal best in a half marathon. But I was devastated with my second loop performance and so i was not in a celebratory mood at all.

Somebody put a medal around my neck, but on close examination it was not a medal but two doll figurines strung around a strap. How innovative!! 

The announcer was constantly asking runners to collect their free t-shirts and have refreshments at the snacks counter, but I took a while to recover my breath and sauntered around the arena while drinking water. Both the t-shirt and snacks queue was long so decided to wait awhile before venturing into one of them.

The breakfast was pongal vada with delicious sambhar and hot coffee to boot, so had a double helping of the pongal and double offering of coffee. Hunger and thirst quenched, I picked up my free t-shirt and bought few things for back home – some locally made sweets and a t-shirt for my daughter. Looked around for the massage stall, but found it too crowded, so decided to wait for my colleagues and one by one they started to trickle in. It seemed the humidity had troubled many runners, so almost all the runners were way off their mark which they had achieved at Mumbai marathon a month ago.

I thought that loss of tree cover and the canopy that goes with it had a major impact on this year’s Auroville Marathon – humidity is always there at Auroville, but the pleasantness that comes from running in a forest was probably missing. For us Mumbaikars, coming from an unusually extreme winter – 8.8 degrees on Wednesday before the race was a dampener for running in the extreme humidity of Auroville – the hydrating went for a toss in the run up to the marathon. While the trail itself was not difficult, the loose soil was making gripping difficult putting lot of pressure on the calf muscles – so trail shoes were a must for running in such a track.

While we were waiting in the tent for our friends to come in, Nikhil of Olympic Gold Quest, started giving post run stretches to Unmesh which was really helpful to him, so others started queuing up for his Olympic style stretches – it was a treat to watch!!

By the time Jo came in at 6.45 hours and his post run carbo loading and stretching, we were late for the planned lunch of the Mumbai runners party at Satsanga Hotel with Venkat, so we quickly came back to the hotel for a quick wash before leaving for the Chennai airport.

Reminiscing the day’s events,  we i.e. myself, Unmesh & Jo decided to come back to Auroville next year with better travel arrangements so we don’t end up rushing up from one venue to another with barely any time for rest and recuperation. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mumbai Marathon 2012

Mumbai Marathon 2012:

2011 was a hectic year for me in terms of running – I did my first ever full marathon, graduating to the ranks of a marathoner, although I took little over 6 hours to complete the distance – latter in February, I broke my personal best for the half marathon in Thane and then in August, I broke a sub-one hour for 10K. During 2011, I also redeemed myself at the Kaveri Trail Marathon and Bangalore Ultra in between tackling a tough and grueling Hyderabad half marathon in August and a tough, humid half marathon in goa in December. In all, 9 nine events during 2011 was a busy year in terms of running events, the most that I have done in a year.

But during all these events, there was only one thought that permeated my brains and that was my second full marathon in Bombay in January 2012 for which I wanted to come under 6 hours. I believe in laying modest goals for myself so that when I achieve these achievable targets I am mentally satisfied.

During 2011, I also started doing core strengthening exercises believing that a strong core is required for a long distance runner. I focused on one core workout day per week and usually it was a Thursday or Friday that I used to do at least 45 minutes core workout. I became quite religious about my core workouts not missing them except perhaps on a few occasions, when travelling. It was also during this period that I started doing a lot of hill workouts and focused hill repeats of the dreaded Aarey Forest and Borivli National Park taking especial delight in conquering the hills and doing as many repeats as possible sometimes taking in 4 to 5 hill repeats.

I wanted to do as much thing as perfect as possible and that is why I kept probing and questioning the experts offline and online – some of my best running buddies are in both spheres. It was during one such exercise that Bobby from Bangalore recommended that my tapering be very focused and intensive rather than slow long runs – a complete antithesis to what I had read and known about marathon tapering – yet there I was doing a brisk 21k on two Sundays before the marathon (it was cold winter morning and an absolutely beautiful day to run) and a fast 10K at the hills at Borivli National Forest the Sunday before the marathon race day and followed it up with two fast 5ks and 7ks respectively during the week preceding the race.

I was in as best shape as possible and eager to throw the gauntlet so to speak at the 42kms of superhuman effort. I was also determined to do as perfect carbo-loading and hydrating as possible during the 2 days before the race day and therefore ended up drinking 3.5 litres each of water/ Gatorade on Friday and Saturday before the race day. Carbo-loading done, hydrating done, bibs pinned and ready, chips tied and ready, GU-gels, water bottle, cap, socks, shoes all kept in readiness for the morning of the race, I went to sleep at 10.00 p.m. half expecting any sound sleep. I was to get up at 2.45 a.m. to get ready for the marathon journey. But since I had a comfortable siesta on Saturday, I was not unduly worried about lack of sleep.

2.45 a.m. – I am up and started getting ready for the race – had my usual oats milk with one teaspoon each of honey and chia seeds and one banana, took a shower, did my usual quota of 10 surya namaskars and got out at 3.45 a.m. for Bhasker to pick me up from outside my house. We were to latter meet Aishorjyo Ghosh, Vaishali Mane & Mithika D’Cruz, the four of us cramped comfortably in the back seat of the cool cab and joking as if we were going for a picnic rather than to run a dreaded 42 kms on the roads of Bombay.

Azad Maidan was abuzz with activity at the unearthly hour (well, no time is unearthly in Bombay) of 5.00 a.m. with police around and V.T. station foyer witnessing more runners than passengers. We walked under the V.T. station subway to the holding area at Azad Maidan passing through numerous police barricades who were asking us to show our “pass”, which was pinned to the t-shirts.

The number of my friends has increased vastly in the last couple of years due to my running activity and due to the inter-actions on the numerous social networking sites and so when I reached Azad Maidan there were numerous hand clasps and hi-5s to be given to RFL, FB, DM friends et al. There we were at Azad Maidan on the morning of the most important day in 365 days casually joking and chatting and guffawing aloud with nary a care in the world of the enormous task at hand that of running a grueling 42 kms. I was completely relaxed and not thinking about the finish line but of enjoying the race. I was planning to run at my easy pace for a couple of kms and then see how it goes. I am not the kind of runner to constantly peek at my watch to see what pace I am running at.

So off we go at 5.40 a.m. from V.T. station, the first thing I noticed is that the number of runners doing the full marathon had increased, nay almost doubled from last year. In every one there was an intensity, a religiousness which meant that these guys were into serious training!! At the Marine Drive going into first of the loops at near the Trident Hotel, I was still behind the venerable Giles Drego who was chugging along looking at his watch time and again!! I passed a few people at this stage but latter on more people started passing me along the Marine drive. I was happy that the 5 hour bus was behind me, so I was doing good so far. The weather was beautiful a nice gentle breeze blowing across from the Arabian Sea.

The going was good until the start of the sea link, which was 15 kms when I had my first GU gel as planned. The pace dropped in the sea link but I was still before the 5 hour bus. I picked up some Gatorade at the only stop where it was available i.e. at the end of the sea link just before the bandra causeway. When I turned into bandra causeway I saw Dr. G.B. Sharma coming back. When queried he gesticulated that he was puking and therefore quitting the race. Natasha gently inquired about my progress at near the Mahim masjid and a little after that the 5 hour bus went by, singing raucuously. Well, anyway, I thought a sub 5 hour marathon would have been a dream so I thought the next best strategy – don’t allow th3 5.30 hour bus to overtake you!! By that time 22 kms had passed and it came to my knowledge with consternation that Gatorade were simply not available at any water station. Everywhere you inquire Gatorade was “no Sir, not available here”. From here onwards I started taking walking breaks of 30 seconds at each kilometer board/ mark and that way I reached Worli Sea Face into kilometers 27, 28 & 29. Somewhere around kilometer 28 i mixed plain water with the Gatorade that I had in my water bottle since Gatorade was anyway not available, the next best strategy was to have sufficient water. The humidity and heat were still not an issue at this stage. Subsequently i was to realise that even relispray was not available save at a few places during the run.

From kilometer 29 onwards i.e. just before the old passport office turnabout, I started feeling cramps in my left calf muscles – from then onwards it was a struggle and I resorted to run/walk/run with as little walk as possible. Soon the cramps spread to right calf musle, ITBS on my right knee started hurting, then more cramps. Like this I kept going ticking off one kilometer mark after another. At Pedder road hill, I tried to climb it without stopping but could not do so due to cramps. But for the cramps I was okay physically and also mentally. It was at Marine Drive that I started feeling the heat of the early morning sun but at the end of the Marine Drive before the turn to Veer Nariman Road was delighted to see my daughter standing in the middle of the road and clicking photographs – that was indeed a moment of satisfaction and glory – she got a good number of photographs of me as well as other runners from that vantage point.

Turning into D.N. Road from Flora fountain I was determined to finish strongly, but the damn cramps were severely impeding me now. Every time I was trying to accelerate to finish sprint style, my leg was hurting, still a good run in the last 100 metres to finish in 5.34 hours a whopping 36 minutes better than last year. I was happy with the timing and the result on my body as I was not fatigued or completely exhausted like last year. Met with Madhu, Vignesh Easwar who were at the finish point cheering the runners and thereafter walked slowly to the finish holding area, collected my medal, refreshments and wanted to lie down for a few minutes, but the damn cramps attack was severe this time. Luckily Abhijit Shome who finished in 3.28 hours was there to help me with stretching. Later on met with friends from Bangalore – Bobby, Pani sir, Suresh, Gerald (from Shillong) and enjoyed the post marathon party with beer and food and friends.