A salute to the tireless and relentless volunteers still cheerful after all is done and dusted
– Proud volunteer
What is a hill run?
What is a trail run?
What is an ultra marathon?
As I sat out to find answers to these questions with four colleagues from Marina Runnerz, Murtaza Tasira, Murtuza B.M, Vishvesh Patel and Zuzer Shabbir Madraswala, I had a very faint idea of a trail run which was at Sholavaram Chennai Trail Marathon.
But the answers I got were totally different. At 7th and 9th km when you see the hills rising menacingly in front of you (I heard one was a 40 mts incline almost equivalent to a 12 storey building), you get your answer that buddy, this is not for faint hearted.
After the U-turn at 12.50 kms when the helpful volunteer warns you to be careful as the decline was rather steep on a trail full of gravels and stones, big and small, you get your answer that running downwards on slope can also be dangerous, deceptive and you need all the powers in your muscles to control your body.
When you run alone for a long distance in eerie silence broken only when you pass through a few huts in the so called villages, you get the answer to what loneliness is.
When in that lonely state, you encounter a few cows with sharp horns blocking your way, happily munching their green food but also hitting one of your colleagues injuring him badly, you get your answer that a cow is not always an innocent animal.
And after running a half marathon distance, you encounter a not so steep but never-ending incline almost for three kilometres, you get the answer what ultra marathon is all about.
But wait, I am not trying to put fear into your mind about trail, hill and ultra running. When you finish your run and a volunteer puts a medal around your neck, all these answers evaporate in thin, high-altitude air.
A city-based highway runner will be surprised by the tranquil atmosphere, beautiful green surroundings, innocent, smiling faces of tribal village kids wanting to high-five you and wishing you best of luck (I would have high-fived atleast thirty of them), a beautiful young girl asking, ‘yedakku odaringa?’ (why are you running?), I was stunned for an answer. I meekly told her, ‘Chumma, fun kaage’ (just like that, for fun). The absence of plastic waste and the presence of pure, non-polluted air, rejuvenates you and your moods.
I have heard many people telling running is like meditation for them. Here in the hills, when there was none ahead of me as far as I can see and there was none behind me till I can look back, I realised the real meaning. It is you, your panting breath and the sound made by your shoe. That is the music for meditation.
At one stage, even a thought passed my mind that why this torture to your body. Do you need to do this at this age? But the next moment the thought was thrown out, as far as I can throw. And after finishing this gruelling run, I have already started planning for my next Jawadhu hills ultra trail marathon. The only difference is, I will be running not 25 kms but I will run 50 kms
Double the pain, four times the joy.
Yedakkuppa? Just for fun. Yes, run, it’s Fun.
Imagine I felt this for 25 kms but there were Bravehearts who ran 50 kms (8 hour cutoff), 75 kms (15 hours cutoff) and 100 kms, yes, one hundred kilometres (18 hours cutoff with the start time at 2.00 am in the pitch dark terrain). Imagine how blissfully they would have felt accomplishing something only a few of us could accomplish. My salutes to all of them.
And if you ask them, ‘yedakkuppa odaringa?’, I am sure their answer would be same as mine.
One refreshing entertainment for soul,the witness.
First ever running event that was registered in my name
First official Ultra, truly blessed to have been launched in an endearing home crowd #ChennaiTrekkingClub
Maiden 100 kilometers(plus couple of detours 3K)/1800 meters elevation gain trail race finished in 17h47m.
It was not long before when Peter had invited me to join the hill runs from this January. So I threw myself to the wolf pack called Team ultra when I was only capable of moving(not running) marathon distances.Since then I have been possessed by hills and trails, so much that all my miles are solely from there.Kicked off Jawadhu hills Ultra with a swift pace until the first 30k after which my plans shattered because of an acidic reaction triggered by baking soda in the bread sandwich.This made it difficult to eat anything at all in the aid stations and people were wondering as they knew food is my strongest area.Loose stools and scorching sun made it even more challenging.All I could do was capitalize on the bliss quotient of the run by banking on the positives. Though I was super drained out of energy, the only motivation was the love from friends and selfless volunteers on the course. When I was moving like a tortoise having run out of time, there came a Black Bison indulging in some off-roading on the trail, Peter got down from his Fortuner and made sure if I could manage.With this meeting, my long standing war finally came to an end when I ran for 16Km not even halting for water. The warm welcome and cheers in the finish line made it totally worth this quest, for trail runners keep up their promises.
FYI: I am not a good writer so tolerate me 😉
From the guy whose official longest run was 25k last year in Jawadhu to complete my 100k ultra in JHU again, life has taken a huge turn
The run had lot of ups and downs just like the Jawadhu trail. Last week i had my PB set in Kanchipuram half marathon @ 1hr41mins, but nothing prepares for you to a hill run. At some point felt so good, i was thinking “is this it? so easy” and at another time “i am not up for this 100k and should sell my other ultra run bibs”
Around 53k felt dizzy because of Sun, and thought next 47k is going to kill me. Being in CTC for more than 2.5yrs now, one thing i learnt is quitting is never an option. So kept moving slowly reaching for the Aid stations to see some familiar faces. The volunteers pep talk and their belief helped a lot.
Around 65-70k, found the company of Joehein Jackson A, another CTC ultra crazy. From there we timed our run, so that we dont end up injured. Reaching the 75k was a huge relief and we decided to sleep for sometime. But Ashok Daniel came up and said do not take long time 😉 thanks for that advice Ashok, otherwise i would’ve never woken up. Thanks Santhosh Gowda for that wonderful massage, owe you a lot bro 🙂
Funny stuff, myself and Jackson ran the last 25k much faster and relaxed than the initial 25k, trying to decode why is that 🤣 Finally the end came, we stopped in a shop to eat something and decided to put on a show-off at the end Finished the run in 17hrs 35mins, but it definitely could have been better.
Thanks everyone of my friends who gave me company Arun Mohit and the volunteers without them i cannot even dream to finish such a run. My special thanks goes to Peter Van Geit taking me up in all of his hill runs. His energy, encouragement, and the lot of invaluable tips he shared about hill runs are the sole reason i am standing up here smiling at the end. Thanks a lot Peter 🙂
And my final thanks but not the least goes to my “Lets Run” group friends from Infosys who waited for me the whole day, encouraged me, their sheer belief on me is unblievable. I am not even sure whether i deserve their praises and looking up towards as if i am a good runner.
Being a newbie to the ultra category, i was too cautious which led to slower pace than i used to run. As usual, enjoying the moonlight and muddy trail, took a detour of 1.5k and ended up nowhere and had to trace my way back. Again this made me too careful and slowed up further afraid of losing way another time.
Note: Due to running most of the time i have missed a lot of Ainthinai events and most of the time do not have energy to participate in those events. Even after that Sivakumar ShanmugaveluManoj Kumar still treat me like a regular. Nadrigal 🙂
People ask me “Why do you go to these hill runs, treks, and Ainthinai events”, my only answer is “this is where i belong, either in the trail or in midst of a hill or in the company of people who want to give back to nature”
From 21K trail running at Chennai Trail Marathon last year graduated to 50K hill running at Jawadhu Hills Ultra this year thanks to Peter Van Geit and CTC’s inspiring hill running team and experiencing trail bliss on the most beautiful scenic remote hill trails with them. JHU 2017 was tough but it was made possible thanks to the awesome support from CTC volunteers and fellow runners who cheered and helped to finish. Big thanks to Peter, ALL CTC organizers and volunteers! (Hope to go for 75K at next JHU)
The best part was getting compliments from Ahamed Hanifa and Ashok Danielthat i have improved :)Thanks for the compliment! Peter Van Geit and the selfless volunteers who put in their own time to help others in a marathon, a huge respect to you people who are responsible in making us complete the run! For people who want to know what humanity is please do come and visit a Aid station in an Ultra marathon!
Ahamed Hanifa Khushal Gore Thomas Habel Paandiyank Vijayakumar Selvam gifted to have u guys around who are so grounded and humble always! You fella’s are Inspiring as always!
Concluded the 100 day challenge with 853 kms of running!
Proud to be a part of 3 figure Ultra Marathon running club!
Jawadhu Hills Ultra (JHU), a 100 km trail run nailed in 2017 (bitter experience of downgrading my run from 75 km to 50 km in 2015 was alive in my memory, thanks to fb) in 15.51 hrs (my PB in 100 km category) with an elevation of 1960 m.
A pure trail throughout the route (80-85%) with rough rocky patches is a different story to tell to trail lovers and I am lucky to experience it.
There were 3 categories, 50 km, 75 km and 100 km. Due to its toughness and killing heat, the dropout including DNF was 20-30% (my heart goes out for them).
About Javadhu Hills (Source: Wikipedia, not independently verified)
The Javadhu Hills (also Jawadhi, Jawadhu Hills) are an extension of the Eastern Ghats spread across parts of Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts in the northern part of the state of Tamil Nadu in southeastern India.This range separates Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts. They consist of bluish gray granites, with peaks averaging 3,600–3,800 feet (1,100–1,150 m). The hills are sparsely populated; the majority of the inhabitants are Malayali tribespeople. I could also see the local vegetation including a wide variety of butterflies. Their multiple colors flying in pairs was a blissful experience to see them throughout the route.
CTC (Chennai Treking Club), the organizer
If I put about CTC in few words, it would be an injustice to them and their volunteers. Awesome arrangement throughout the route and their ready to help approach always. Be it ice bath, helping with eatables etc, they were flawless. Needless to mention, they organise these races just for the pure bliss at a fraction of cost (Rs. 1300 inclusive of stay in a school, food and other arrangements; that’s it) unlike other event organizers charging multiple times. Thank you Peter Van Geit and your awesome volunteers. Take a bow for all of you.
Loved the whole experience throughly; though painful but a life time experience. I strongly recommend Javadhu Hills Ultra to all runners looking for trail experience. You test your endurance here. I sign off till my next trail run.
Javadhu Hills Ultra 2017 100km run in 11:05 hours. I am blessed to have hundreds of runners, volunteers and spectators cheer me! Everything seemed surreal in the hangover mode. Saw the extremes of temperature. I was shivering when started at 2am and was burning in midday. Surprisingly no cramps at all.. must be because of unived salt capsules I was consuming each hour. The experience was unique and beautiful. Each time I run this event it gets closer and closer to my heart <3. Cannot thank Peter Van Geit, Ashok Daniel and their team enough who worked day and night to make us realize our dream. Loving you guys and loving my life. Time to hit Himalayas <3.
What will you do when you see your girlfriend/wife after some 2 long months of no talking/chating/seeing… ?? 🙂 pun intended 🙂
That’s what I did when I run MY FIRST 50KM ULTRA run at javadhu hills with no/little running for nearly 2 months. I kissed the trail and then the joy of, running on the trails, has taken me to complete it within the cutoff – 7:25. ( Still waiting for the official time though ). This is the longest I have ever run so far. Except for the ITB issue, this was a remarkable and memorable run for me.
Ashok Daniel bro, seeing you at the finish line and getting the hug and medal from you was one of an experience bro. Thank you for inspiring many like me.
What’s more happier than seeing you friends as volunteers on the AID stations and encouraging you. To all the volunteers of CTC, despite a heavy rain on last night, you all did a remarkable job. Thank you for that.
Finally to my dear thala Peter Van Geit, thank you showing me what I can be. I know I’m still not at my best, but will never stop pushing myself and the thirst for trails will not fade in me. Missed your hug this time at finish line though.
Raj sir it was indeed a pleasure to be with you. My admiration for you will always be higher.
Arjun Raghav thanks for helping and supporting me post the run macha…
I’ve a big list to thank and tell about every one of my friends. Few are Ashish Tiwari An Bu Avinash Anbu Rakesh J Vinolee Ramalingam Joehein Jackson AKhushal Gore Vijayakumar Selvam Mahesh Sukumar Pudhuma Bharathi KAhamed Hanifa Varatha Raja Paandiyank Niranjan Raja Sundhari Thevar Hari Krishnan Soor Ya Shweta Chahar Nagarajan AS Jagannath Ganapathy Nilesh Rj Vipul Kumar Thomas Habel Mani Raj Ram Ganesh Abishek Kj Charan Tej Naik Saikarthick Raghupathy
Thank you guys… See you all at CTM next… 🙂
My maiden 100KM ultra run JHU2017. Done dusted!!! BIB no: H143
This is my first running event, the build up to the race felt like an eternity. The training, reading and preparation… not to mention all the conversations with family and friends. Finally, I was on the start line. I couldn’t wait to just run, and put all the uncertainty behind me.
For the first 40KMs or so, I chatted with lots of other runners and everyone was all smiles. It was great fun – we were in this together. After the 50KM the field became much more spread out. Runners were few and far between. The people I came across were starting to struggle. Lengthy, enjoyable chats in the first half of the race became much shorter exchanges. We were all fighting our own battles. After KMs 80 my pace was slowing and my thighs were screaming. The doubt crept in: ‘Had I overdone it on the hills?’, ‘Would I finish?’ I tried to keep my mind distracted from my thighs. I started thinking about work, my garden, my kid,#positivethinking
I knew that every step I took beyond 85KMs in the race would be new territory for me, both physically and mentally. So I kept the strategy for my first ultra nice and simple:
1) finish safely in one piece, 2) try and finish it before it got dark.
As I crossed the finish line and felt the medal around my neck, a range of feelings and emotions flew through my head. Sheer joy I’d finished. Relief I’d completed it safely and on time. Pride I’d trained and prepared well.
The run itself was surprisingly enjoyable. After you’ve been running for 10+ hours every little thing becomes an incredible luxury. But nothing quite compares to the feeling of being a finisher.
I’ve had a few ups and downs over the years. One thing that works for me is finding something to focus my energy on. That way, my brain has less time and space to hook onto all those anxieties and worries.
Thanks to all the volunteers. Love you guys.
IM dedicating my maiden 100KM Ultra to Samir Singh “The Faith Runne”
Successfully finished 100k- JHU2017 in 17.30 hrs.
Well first of all huge respect for all amazing volunteers who worked day n night to make this event successful : Jawadhu Ultra Hill Marathon 2017
Saturday 5th August reached venue in the morning : first time i was driving all the way from chennai to Jawadhu, ( Thomas had around +20hrs working day n required rest)
Lot of learning happened in two days.
On Sunday 6th August Race started at 02.00 am, Moonlight running meditation was awesome,
it became difficult to run in scorching sun, took 10min break at 58th kilometer, and started again, volunteers played major role to make me finish the race within cut off time, Special thanks Varatha Raja Avinash Anbu Ganesh GagsSanchana Ramanathan Niranjan Raja Jotsna Iyer ++ passing the positive vibes to me during the run, Karthikeyan Vee for the knee treatment.
It’s special feeling to run along with awesome people – Thomas GaléronPaandiyank star, Arun Mohit Madanapalli Mohan Ajay Appaden Ahamed Hanifa Joehein Jackson A Vipul Kumar Vijayakumar ++
Thank you Peter to taking all of us to next level. (three pillar: Praba, Murali, Peter)
Ashok Raja, Prabakar, Manoj : sweaty Hugs, shouts, claps encouraged me to not give up.
And many more I missed them to mention here
Loads of love and blessings to all volunteers.
Keep inspiring n celebrating life.
I recommend all international runners to become the part of upcoming events organized by chennai trekking club with love n care of volunteers
#TrailRunningBliss #CTC #JHU2017 #Kodai2018 #gratitude
Full story of my First Trail run – JHU 50k:
For rookie runner like me – the numbers are always fascinating. Always wanted to run a Full Marathon. But due to pre-planned Brevet rides this year, wasn’t doing enough justice to running.
Initially registered for JHU 50 and then changed it to 25 – as I had only 5 days in between for “The Gates of Heaven”. But since that ride was cancelled due to some difficult circumstances, thought of upgrading to 50. The idea was to try and break the 42km barrier once and build it from there.
Was really apprehensive about Running a 50k with the previous max distance of 30k odd on road. Should thank CTC and Peter Van Geit for planning a practice run just a week before JHU. Ran a 50 odd during practice with Paandiyank. Was totally in awe of Paandi, with the ease at which he runs. Realized that the trail dynamics are totally different. The practice run helped me understand what to expect. Thoroughly enjoyed the run – particularly the fresh water which the villagers offered. Felt that the water was really quenching that the bottled ones which we drink here. Though Jawadhu was hot, one cant miss out the lush green mountains, the smell of the sand, the raw(green) smell from the fields. Some times we ran alone in the woods which was really an inexplicable experience. Trail running was really a bliss – it sure is not over quoted 🙂
Cudnt sleep the whole week leading up to the run. Was super excited. Did some decent distance and bridge climbs throughout the week. Slept well and ate well.
Found company in Sanjay Sinha and Jenish Stanslas to drive up to Jawadhu for the race. Found some cover in the school and we were up and ready way too early. The overnight rain had left a cold weather behind. It was a super start. The initial plan was to finish the run in 6.30 hours.
Ran the first 25km to the U turn in 3 hours – without stopping at any of the Aid stations and never walked as well. That gave me a bit of confidence and I was way within my planned time. But after 30 odd kms I felt a bit of fatigue on be quads and calves. So, decided to add some fast walk to the run. On the way back stopped at all the aid stations and had enough hydration and salt. Completed the Full Marathon in 5 hours and 40 mins.
I should say it really was a struggle to run the last 8. Particularly, the last 3-4 kms was really tough as both legs were completely worked out. One good thing – the energy was always there. Its just the legs due to the newer workout and sudden increase in mileage. Decided to keep the momentum going by taking short steps with high cadence. Reached the finish line in 7 hours and 5 mins.
Overall its was a great experience with plenty of positive takeaways.
Thank you CTC and all the selfless volunteers.