Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Marathon # 5 - Auroville Marathon

Auroville Marathon
Five down.. five more to go my target of 10 full marathons.

After my fiasco at Chennai Marathon, last week, was determined to finish Auroville Marathon and I did @ 4:55. This timing is slightly better than my Singapore Marathon timing but could have been lot better. Here again, my target was 4:30 and it seems to be as elusive as ever. But, I am determined to get there in the next 5.

Here is illustrated report of Auroville Marathon.

Chennai Runners at the starting point - Drive-in Woodlands.
Chennai Runners hired a small bus to trek to Pondicherry to participate in the marathon. We were about 25+ that went from Chennai. One bus and a few cars. Karthik.. at times, it might have felt like herding a bunch of cats, but you handled the 'cats' well.. thanks for taking the initiative and going out of the way to make this trip happen. Also, Thanks to Big Toe (Senthil) for arranging for the bus and the goody bag. Sorry Big Toe, we missed you.. hope to see you back in action soon.

The night before at Auroville Visitor Center.. All runners were asked to assemble to there to collect runner's pack
We reached Auroville around 5:30 PM and waited for the organizers a little bit. Chandresh and a bunch of volunteers distributed the race packet which was followed by a sumptuous carb loading dinner.

Chennai Runners at Auroville Dorm.. getting ready for the big day..
After the dinner, we were taken to a dormitory style accomadation which was kind of bare minimum but served the purpose very well.

Full Marathon starting point..
Full marathon started at 5:30AM when it was pitch dark. The first half hour or so was challenging as there was zero visibility. Each of us were given a pen torch to follow the arrow marks on the ground and look for volunteers. Even though, this was unsettling initially and was was unable to get in to a rhythm, started liking it after a few minutes.

Auroville Marathon running track
Much of the course was like this.. dirt pathways, undulating and uneven. This was unlike any of the other marathons I have run before. This made this one challenging but at same time very interesting.

Rajendra Patel near the finish line..
Rajendra Patel near the finish line.. he is an example of grit and determination. Going beyond what we believe is possible and never giving up.. We caught up with each other at the first km or so and pretty much ran together till about 25 kms. Then he stopped all of a sudden due to bad cramps.. It was so severe that I thought he would stop and take a ride to the finishing line. But Mr. Patel is no quitter, he fought his way through the pain, shed his shoes and started walking and running and finished. Hats off to you Sir.. have much to learn from you.

Ram Viswanathan at the finish line
Yours truly at the finish line with the timing of 4:55:32. I am came 7th (in a field of seven !!!). I was good till about 30kms or so and then the hit the wall, I wasn't strong enough to break through it and just barely made it thru the end. I kept giving all kinds of excuses for not running and started walking. At one stage, when there was a remote chance of 'losing my way', I wanted to take that as a reason to call it quits. But, with the Chennai Marathon fiasco still fresh in my mind, I somehow continued and finished. And, what a feeling at the finish line.. that alone is sufficient to forget all the pain..

Thanks to wonderful bunch of ChennaiRunners who made the trip enjoyable and pleasant. Now my target is Turin on April 13, 2008.