Monday, February 16, 2009

Auroville Marathon

You can't have a better experience running a Marathon than you would at Auroville.I can vouch for that.
Had a mind blowing experience yesterday running in this mini forest at Auroville.

You could call it a one of a kind experience. Away from anything to do with the city life. Running almost entirely amongst trees of different kinds, on tracks which were totally dug out at certain stretches and at some they were just or maybe less than a foot wide.
The trees or shrubs almost brushed your head as you ran.
The whole event was well organized. I had made a visit the previous evening to collect the number and Bibs. Since there is no organized transport here one depends on the good will of the Auroville residents, which, generally overflows in abundance.
On the event day,though, I did not want to test the Good will too much , so played safe by taking an Auto.
Reached the venue at 5:45 AM sharp. Hung around for a while, answered to the roll call, stretched a bit - peed and was ready.
At around 6:05 we were off. The route was well marked so no problems with that,absolutely.
All one had to do was put the head down and jog. 10 kms per hour must qualify as a jog. A marathon Jog. By the 3 km mark each was on his own.
I followed someone who wore only socks.I did that for quite some distance assuming him to be good runner if can do a long distance run without shoes.
After a while, felt I could loosen a bit and overtook him. From then on I was on my own for long stretches. I went past some and some runners overtook me. My guess about the sox runner came right as he overtook me, about five kms before finish line, at a mighty good clip.
I was enjoying myself running, listening to the birds - I could make out at least 4 different varieties. Even heard a peacock(what sound does a peacock make?).
Around the 6 km mark there was a good bit of revelry in the form of Drum beating a la Pune-Marathon.
Till around the 12-13 kms mark there were no problems. At that point I was feeling fit for another 20. But the pain started building up just around that time.
Tried walking for sometime as my legs felt heavy and a couple of times I had banged against stones jutting out - losing my balance in the process.
On a 1km stretch which was particularly trackless I decided to walk it. As I walked quite a few runners went past.
Well, that kind of re-motivated me to start running again. Which I did- again putting my head down and just looking at my shoes.
It was quite satisfying to see the ground move under my feet. Otherwise, when you looked up you saw the next closest guy was a good 300 meters ahead of you , well that can be demoralizing.
Around 3 kms from finish a pretty lady in a cycle egged me on telling me it was very close adding that there were only beautiful paths ahead.
Soon enough the path became very narrow and enclosed with low hanging branches - at times I was running between the bambooed fences on the backyards of tiny huts.
Further down it opened out into a field and I was onto a metalled road and I knew it was close.
I just made a dash for it.

Next year I am sure to be there.

Planning on bringing the entire family along.

Recently added a video of the event

Image courtesy - Ram Viswanathan