I love observing people and I am always at it even when I am running a marathon. Yes, I am always excited and nervous about a race. But, I am also excited to meet a lot of people on the route, during a race, well, sometimes not. You like it or not, you will definitely meet one of these characters during a race. I have listed them into 17 different types. One may have a list longer than this. So, on your mats, go!!!
17 types of people you encounter during a race:
- The Storyteller– when I began running…..my nutrition plan, my future race—–zzzzzzz ‘my last race’, ‘the race before that’………ZZZZZZZZ (wake me up when it’s all over!!!!!!!)
- The conversation striker: ‘Is this your first race?’ (like seriously, you can come up with a better line than that)
- The coach: you should drink this before the race, you should tie your laces like this, you should put powder in your t-shirt (Race se pehele kyon nahi mila??????)
- The finding faults in every thing : ‘not enough Enerzal points, there is a water station at every 1 km only (abhi pani se naha kar, Enerzal se moisturize karoge kya mere bhai?) oh, wait for it ‘The race started exactly 5 seconds later- this is crap, bad organisation!!!!!!’ (bhaaag lo)
- The one who thinks your are the organizer: Do you know the route? Is there a turn here? What is there for breakfast? Where is the finish line? Is it going to be exact 21 km or more or less? Where is the next aid station? Where is the loo? ‘(ek raat pehele booklet, kyon nahi padhi, meri ammma?- PACE BADHAO)
- The one who wants to tell the answer (speak about his knowledge) through a question: What is your VO2 MAX? What is your resting heart-rate? What is your pulse? What pace is this? (Don’t worry if you don’t know, he/she will tell you)
- The selfie expert: at start, with you, ahead of you, everywhere, they just never stop taking the selfie. (smile and move)
- The gossip monger– ‘do you know….haaaawww and do you know ‘ooohhhh’
- The flatterer: you form-waaah (arey!!!! but, I am dying), your shorts, your breathing style, oooooohhhh (race course se seedhe, I have reached atop World Towers!!!!!)
- Disapproving of everything you do types: This one is finding fault in everything that you do: ‘Your stride, your shoulders, your hand, your leg!’ (Seriously, my mother will be more optimistic about me than this guy)
- The excessively competitive: His/ her race depends on your pace. Chutney test: if this person is running next to you during a race, try increasing the pace, he/ she will follow the same, then go easy-there!!! your test is successful.
- The excessively patriotic: Having an Indian flag at the finish line or on the jersey at every event, whether it is Republic/ Independence Day or not.’ Has loud music and songs such as ‘kandho se miltein hain kandhe’ playing right next to you, yes on speaker. (Thane marathon hain dude, aur hum India mein hi hain! Relax.)
- The enthu cutlet: If this person is running next to you, then you better have ear plugs or at least cotton in your ears. As this type will cheer for everyone on the route. The sweetest of the kind, actually and the nicest to run next to. But you don’t want to get deaf during your long run.
- The speed-breaker: A person who wants to run ahead of you for a few seconds but will come to an abrupt stop right in front of you, not just hampering his or her pace, but yours too.
- The popular one: He/ She has a cheer at every step he/she takes, sometimes runner next to you will cheer right in your ears for this runner. Their hands are always in the air too, obviously acknowledging the shouts from the crowd.
- The happy go lucky: doesn’t care about who has organized the race, or about the route, distance, time, pace, nothing rocks his boat. ‘We are too cool for this’. The focus is straight ‘Omlette and beer post run’ throw in some wada pav too.
- The winner: Who doesn’t indulge in any of these luxuries of meeting interesting people on the route and is straight seen on the podium.
I recently participated in a marathon, where the challenge was to run for 36 hours. YES, 36 HOURS AT A STRETCH. Now, I have participated in many events where the duration of the run lasted for about 20 hours. But, I have definitely have not run even a minute more than that.
But, the real catch was to run for 36 hours in a 400 meter stadium. Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore.
the group who ran for 36 hours
sometimes you are by yourself
chats during the run
sometimes you need to walk
one foot after the other
A change of direction
Day 1 of 36 hour stadium run
My mother thought my daughter has definitely lost her mind. And for the longest time she thought I was joking about the fact that I am going to run for 36 hours. Knowing me well, she knew I can not, absolutely cannot let go of my sleep. So she asked, ‘Can you rest?’ I said, oh yes for some time. And this is how it all began. It began by telling my mind to not sleep for my usual 7 hours in the night and maybe cut it to a smaller time. 🙂
I was treating it as if running was that long was ‘ok, whatever, secondary’! In reality, it wasn’t.
So the drill was this: the run started on August 6 at 6 am and it ended on August 7, 6 pm. You had 36 hours and you had to go round and round on the 400 meter track for 36 hours. Every one hour is change in direction- clockwise or anti-clockwise. Hydration, nutrition, toilets, beds to rest, a team of docs, every one is right there. Every 6 hours was your medical check.
But coming back to the biggest question mark on my mother’s forehead that said ‘WHY??’ in CAPS. Here is my ‘WHY’ and ‘WHY’ will I do it again with 17 reasons:
- It is an experience that you will not get on any ultra marathon. Now, typically most of the marathons (and I am speaking ultras) have a distance to cover in the given time. It could be any distance above 42 km. 46 km, 86 km, 101 km, 220 km, etc. Here, you choose your own distance within the time given to you and keep it as a target and then tell your mind ‘one foot ahead of the other, sweetheart and repeat’. That is exactly what I did. Having run not a km more than 100 km, I was targeting 180 km, managed 184 km in 36 hours (I am glad)
- Everything is under your control. Since you are moving in circles of 400 meters, you have easy access to hydration and nutrition, every 400 meters. The organisers NEB sports and Nagaraj Adiga and his team had done an excellent job and we were given whatever we asked for. The list included the most bizarre food requests including ice-creams (seriously, who eats ice-cream during a run?) This hydration/ nutrition point was kept inside the innermost circle of the track and we just had to stop by to do the carb loading.
- There is no need to run with money to buy stuff on the road, no backpacks or hydration belts needed.
- there is no better test of your mental endurance than something like this- going round and round in circles, for 36 hours -again, SERIOUSLY!
- Ultra running community is like a family. We are these bunch of runners who run for long hours, share each other’s problems, running related experiences, etc. Essentially, we talk a lot. But the conversations are bound to inspire and make you a better runner.
- You can carry as many clothes you want and change clothes as many times you want. The track is your ramp. And the baggage counter, your dressing room.
- You get the best running pictures as there is someone or the other clicking you from some point in the stadium.
- You can learn a lot about other’s running style, their diet, etc. to take the best and leave the not so suitable. Hence, it is a fantastic learning experience.
- You get to know so much about your own running style, at what point in time do you need food, when do you need to hydrate, what makes you run better, which shoe is helping you, which shoe is making you slow, etc. It is a great time to experiment with your own body to understand it better.
- If you have been considering for a long time to run barefoot but couldn’t muster the guts to do so considering the dirt, dust, broken glasses and nails on Indian roads, this could be your time to do barefoot. I ran about 40 km barefoot and loved it. The track is super conducive for a barefoot run.
- You understand a lot about your sleep pattern during such a run. So typically, at times you would sleep to rest or even if you are not sleepy you want to just lie down and then gradually fall asleep. Or then at times your eyes are shutting and you really really have to sleep. Either which ways, sleep or rest is as important as your run.
- You know how to use your energy in a more conservative way. This will happen only by experience and knowing your body well. Your body will tell you when can you build a rhythm and run well without spending too much energy and when can you conserve a bit of energy to spend it in the forthcoming hours. For example, I can run really well in the sun. But, as soon as it is cold, I simply can’t run.
- You start appreciating the time spent with yourself, without phone much better on such run.
- you will not get the crowd support or cheer for any other ultra spanning over 36 hours time as you will get for the one happening in the stadium. This really helps. When you hear your name in the crowd suddenly your form improves (well, it has to).
- You get to know a quality about you other than discipline. This quality is persistence. You you were disciplined enough to wake up in the morning, on weekdays and weekends for those long runs. But, it is nothing if you are not persistent enough to continue and go on and on for those 36 hours at a stretch.
- In case you are planning a long run in the near future, this can form a good well supported training run. If you haven’t planned, then you should within a month or 40 days of a run like this. Your training mileage will be easily taken care of.
- Your appreciation of time and what can you do with it is way higher. Suddenly, one hour more of work seems like a cake walk, when earlier it used to feel like a lot of time. And you understand the importance of what you have done only after 36 hours and one minute.