Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Running on Empty

Just finished reading Marshall Ulrich's book "Running on Empty" - his story of love, loss and a record setting run across America. This guy is a true ultra marathoner nut in the sense that he has incredible feats under his belt like finishing Badwater Marathon 18 times, winning it four times, and then doing the Badwater route solo i.e. without any team, but only with all his supplies in a cart that weighed 200 pounds, Badwater Quad which is like utter crazy - doing badwater four times back to back. Who can attempt such crazy ultra running feats. His ultra running or rather his running started with the loss of his first wife to cancer when he used to run to escape the depression and thereafter running became a lifelong passion. He has also some mountaineering feats up his sleeve like summiting the tallest summit in each continent and also ascending the Mount Everest.

So it was to be a culmination of his running career by running across America, starting from San francisco to New York a total distance of 3063 miles in 46 days at the age of 57. The previous person to have covered America thus was a 27 year old Frank Gianino about 28 years ago. It involved Marshall running 2 marathons plus 10K every day across terrain and weather that varied from state to state from heat to cold, snow, rains and all. It led to a process of discovery within himself and brought his family close together. The daily travails of running coupled with diet, nutrition, injury, illness, exhaustion, plus the logistics of daily runs are not given in much detail but the reader can very comprehend what it must have taken for the crew to get this runner across America. At the beginning Charlie Engle who ran across the Sahara desert accompanied Marshall during his run but somewhere approximately half way through a fight broke out between the two and Charlie quit and then came to crew and there were recriminations with the original crew which included Marshall's wife. So it is a kind of an eye-opener as to what really transpires in all these multi day ultra marathons. Read it to see whether he manages to break the record of Frank Gianino. Nice read for running fans. There was a movie made out of it “Running America” but could only find a trailer on youtube for it. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Ran the last event of 2012 the MUSTRun 10K in December which was organised by the Bandra H West Federation. They had quite a few sponsors but the inside knowledge was that big sponsors were shying away from the event, probably due to economic recession. Anyway, the event is being held for the 2nd year and this year they added a half marathon to the 10K which started last year. The route was to pass through the western suburbs of Mumbai, starting from Bandra and going all the way to Santacruz before winding back to Bandra. The start and finish points were at different locations.

The added significance for me was that i had somehow coaxed my daughter Nikita to take part in the 10K race and she had agreed to come for the event. The race was to start at 6.10 a.m. but when we reached the venue we were informed that the start has been delayed by 30 minutes due to late arrival of the volunteers.

That was fine because much shouting, encouraging, back slapping followed with most of the Mumbai runners descending on the venue. The 5Kers started first and then we set off. The race started at Bandra Hill road, went to S.V. Road all the way to Khira Nagar in Santacruz went back to the Link Road all the way back to Bandra via Carter Road Promenade.

Since it was her first race, we started slowly and got into a run-walk-run mode early on itself and kept at it all along the route, walking for exactly 30 seconds and taking off again. i was not sure if Nikita would complete the entire 10K, but she started showing strength and determination to go the distance so i kept on encouraging her all the way. By around 6K i knew that she needed pushing and would definitely make it to the finish line. We kept at it but by 9K or so, she started showing signs of immense fatigue and was repeatedly asking me “how much more to go”. Finally we reached the finish line together in 1.21 hours but there was chaos as usual at the finish line. Later on we came to know that the distance was more by 1.6 kms so we had run 11.6 kms instead of 10 kms. Her 10K timing was 1.15 hours approximately.

The organisation of the race was chaotic with the distances mismatch for both the 10K and 21k categories. But it was a satisfying day for me and Nikita, although she was quite nonchalant about the whole thing and was probably wondering what the fuss was all about!!