Thursday 22 October 2009

Safer Long Distance Running

The last week has seen tragic and unfortunate deaths of half marathoners in Detroit, San Jose and in Mumbai - of reasonably seasoned, well trained runners.
It raises questions particularly for those seeking to push for the distance too soon and sometimes without adequate training and taking the several weeks schedules too lightly. This is the first thing that runners pushing the distances of half marathons and beyond need to adhere to.
The second would be to listen to your body before and during training and the race telling you to slow down and not push yourself as hard, there is always another race - unleass of course you are a champion athlete.

A great article in with comments in from Cardiologist Paul Thomson highlights one of the less predictable risks of rupture of cholesterol plaque with severe stress, which upsets blood flow, and leads to clotting and high chances of death. These are things we need to be more educated about as we test the limits, as in any extreme sport.

He also states" The risk of dying from a heart attack goes up about 5 to 7 times during marathoning or other strenuous exercise. It's actually lowest among those who exercise the most and the most vigorously--it's may be double for them, while it's 30 to 50 times more dangerous for weekend warrior types who exercise infrequently. At the same time that you see these during-exercise risks, we also know that regular exercisers have about a 30 to 50 percent lower overall risk for heart attacks."

I would add - Mind over body is one issue that long distance runners focus on, but we must remember that tuning the mind into the body is as critical, though less talked about

So exercise is great but while we are under stress we need to be ever more aware too. The article is a must read.

Train well, listen to your body which should be a critical part of training, manage your diet and cholesterol especially, and you will run safer.

Have fun and get High while you run

Long distance running - safely

There have been a few unfortunate deaths in the last week in Detroit, San Jose and Mumbai of fit, young long distance runners in good shape - collapsing and succumbing to a cardiac arrest. It has been both tragic for the families and friends concerned and worrying for the broader community of long distance runners.

These were not weekend runners seeking to push more and more and go beyond the limit but all seemed in reasonable and great shape.

More learnings may come out but some articles and news point to the fact that

we need adequate training and adequate rest.
get our comprehensive medical exams done once a year.
and then we need to 'listen to our body' as we push the limit and not go overboard. Cholesterol plaque as Dr Paul Thomson comments in a great article in runners world online, can be a hidden threat so diet, cholesterol management and a more holistic approach to a running lifestyle becomes more critical for those planning to push the limits.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

The Most Beautiful Half Marathon in the World

 The 1st Shimla Running And Living Half Marathon - Oct 4th 2009

More pictures to view or download online at (taken by our photographers - Shalini, Rahul, Neerav and Rana)
If you have taken snaps and uploaded them online, send me the link which I will share with the group.

This is a long read with many photo links so sit back with your chai - and relive the expereince.
103 Half Marathoners ran in probably the most scenic half marathon in the world - The Shimla Running And Living Half Marathon on 4th October 2009. They raced down from the flagpole on the Ridge, past the Municipal Corporation office and Scandal point, to get to the steep downhill on the mall - past the Railway Board Building, and then Gorton's Castle, The Vidhan Sabha, to the Ambedkar Post office.
This downhill sprint was light in energy burn, but taxing on the knees, as positions got shuffled around a bit on the climb to Peterhof hotel, with a descent post the porch and then back again to the Ridge. This return, especially the last 2 km was really tough as the road got steeper, closer to Scandal Point and the Ridge.

Shri VC Pharka - Principal Secretary - Himachal Pradesh for Youth Services and Sports - flagged off the half marathon at exactly 7am and followed it up with flagging off the 6km run at 730am, which comprised over 250 runners. Many schools participated in this 6km run, as did a few people from outside the State. This too, was a more gruelling course than any other, most runners had experienced.
They too followed the same route to the Peterhof Hotel, but the return was tough. Climbing up past the Cecil Hotel and the Army Training Command and The DC's office and finally a steep climb upto the CTO and beyond Scandal point, brought the 6km runners to their destination, as the half marathoners whizzed by the juice corner, and down the steep 100m to the mall. They continues past Clarke's Hotel, the High Court and then up to Oak Over and Raj Bhawan. That was the second set of uphills on the route, which then flattened out a bit and continued along the scenic Forest Hill Road till Bedes Chowk.

Water and Electral were provided to the runners by the Team from Raid-De-Himalaya, as an ambulance stood by to help, as needed. The CMO had provided 3 ambulances at The Ridge, Peterhof and Bedes Chowk. Watchful eyes of vigilant doctors, looked for fatigued runners. The Traffic Police had heavily manned the section where the runners hit the Circular Road for a stretch of 50m. The Volunteers then beckoned the runners to take the left fork up towards Indus hospital, at which point most shook their heads in disbelief, because this was the steepest section of the route, going up towards Indus Hospital.
"Even after all these years, running continues to amaze me. Mostly in its ability to clarify - to make things OK and bring you back down to earth, even when things are insane. Especially when things are insane. "

Mark Remy, Executive Editor, runnersworld.c
Well things were insane at this point - and very humbling. Everyone was 'brought down to earth'
Running paces went down to half the speed and another 100m further turned into a brisk walk, and another 100m later, into a panting, laboured, walk. This was the time to enjoy the view of the forested track. Thank God for the Electral before the climb!

Then finally came flatter sections and a steep downhill towards Indira Gandhi Medical College, and a gradual slope through Lakkad Bazar nd back to the Ridge where there were a few cheering, and the by now familiar faces of the volunteers. It felt good to be on the Ridge and soak in the expanse, and then the view, which however was misted up. Perfect running weather though. 13km down and 8.1 to go.
So back downhill to the Peterhof, which for most was a welcome blessing, as breath and timing were both regained a bit, as the infamous Shimla monkeys scurried for cover. They had not seen so many humans running on the road, and they decided to stay off for a while. Water and Electral at the Scenic Peterhof where the hotel staff and volunteers were doing a great job of managing hydration, photographs, cheering and timing, along with the medical team which had an ambulance on the ready. Coming back up from Vidhan Sabha to the Ridge was another very tough section because of the steady uphill, which was reasonably severe and the runners were much more tired than on their first time around on that section. But the sight of Scandal point was a relief as the flat Ridge was nearby, even though not yet in sight.
Water and volunteers and cheering teams outside Ashiana, brought welcome relief. 2km and a bit to go.
A steep descent to the Mall and then past Indira Gandhi Sports Centre, The Clarkes and the High Court, got the runners to arrive at the 20.05 mark which was the turn around point. The last 1km was a matter of so near and yet so far, as the path was quite steep, the runners were exhausted, and several were walking at this stage. The final 100m up from the Mall to the Ridge was as steep as the Indus climb. Mixed feelings of - 'Oh my Gosh! 'to 'The end is near' and several variations which would be less diplomatic, rushed through each runners minds, as they reached the Ridge and got a gleaming Gold Medal on their neck, a packet of biscuits and then glugged some water as they cooled off and collected their certificates against the backgrop of the Church - Thank God it's over!!

Everyone was a winner. You did it!!
Each runner had experienced the beauty and history and the toughness that Shimla had to offer.
They had run the most beautiful half marathon in the world - The Half, in Shimla.
The Gold medal had the Church etched into it and each runner had this run, etched into his/her memory.
The Director General of Police, Himachal Pradesh - Shri Gill, gave away the plaques for the first 5 placed in the 2 runs and hoped that these runs would be a more regular feature both in Shimla and the rest of the State. He was accompanied by Director of Sports Mr Katwal, and Suman Rawat - India's champion marathoner, from the DYSS, who helped in coordinating permissions for the run.
Adesh Kumar ran an amazing 1:27:10 to set the course record. Definitely 20 minutes or so, slower than a flat marathon in the plains. He was closely followed by Sachin Kumar, 1 second behind him, who inturn had Shiv Singh, a second behind him. What a photo finish to a gruelling run.

Our 60 volunteers from all over the country did a stellar job of keeping things moving and making the experience memorable. Thanks.
A special thanks to Emily, Raji, Anita, Jagdish, Pooja, Amardeep and team from Shimla, Reyhan and team from S Delhi Polytechnic, Sanjay and team from Raid de Himalaya, Roshan Thakur and Team from Ashiana, SS Thakur and the team from Peterhof, Alice and team, and several others who did a stupendous job. This is what made this run special.

Shimla Half Marathon Desk clocks
You saw the clocks, and then it was a race against time after the finish, to catch your bus, train or plane connection. Many of you said you were interested in purchasing one or more - we can courier this to your address. Just email us at
Your postal address and mobile
Number of clocks wanted
A cheque payable in Delhi for Rs 600/- per clock - all inclusive, favouring - Running And Living Infotainment Pvt. Ltd. mailed to 132 Vista Villas, Sector 46, Gurgaon 122003, Haryana

We are looking for someone to start running groups in Shimla and around?
Let us know if you run at least once a week and would like to lead a running group in your neighbourhood
See you next October, each with another 10 friends and lets get Himachal Pradesh and India, running!
Before that - let's meet in Gurgaon on Dec 6th- for your personal best, at teh coolest marathon in the country - The Marathon and a Half!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Running in the most beautiful half marathon in the world

The breathtakingly beautiful Half Marathon in Shimla - Oct 4th
The weather was perfect - cool and mildly moist as the half marathoners ran in the mist. Those who had been on course walks for
acclimatization and orientation the previous 2 days, were well prepared for the challenges ahead. The Principal Secretary Youth Services and Sports, for Himachal Pradesh, Shri VC Pharka, flagged off the Half Marathon at exactly 730am. on 4th October 2009.

The runners started off slow and measured, to Scandal Point and then as the slope increased, so did their pace; a good way to get the first 2km over and done with (but the thought stuck - shucks I have to come back this way again, and one more time back up. Yikes!)
This was a run through Shimla's best - starting with the more historic parts of Shimla - via the Muncipal Corporation, The Railway Board Building, Gortons Castle, The Vidhan Sabha and then onwards to the scenic Peterhof Hotel.The climb to the porch of the Peterhof from the main road and then back up from the parking lot to the porch, was the first leveller, and there were many more to come. Here our partners - HPTDC, did a great job of managing the hydration point along with our volunteers
The PeterHof
The climb back up from the Cecil Oberoi to Scandal point was tough, but the runners were fresh, and after some quick hydration, they were back on their way, down the Mall Road, past Clarke's hotel and then onwards past the HIgh Court to the CM;s residence at OakOver.