We were attempting something unimaginable for the first time in our lives –a 100 km trail walk….
When I had decided to take part in the Oxfam Trail walker, I was aware that this is not going to be easy. But, when we were starting our trail walk, there was no doubt in our mind about the completion of 100KM. We were targeting the time of 30 Hrs but, as it turned out that due to some technical mismatch we could not start at scheduled 6.00 AM (and we were tensed/nervous/helpless). We could start our walk only at 6.24.42 AM (to be precise). By this time most of the teams had taken off and would have covered 1.5 to 2 KM ….but we were not perturbed and continued our journey.
By the end of checkpoint 2 (23 KM), our bodies had started giving early warning of stress and blisters and we were also lacking in pace. 55 teams had already left when we checked in at Checkpoint 2. We used the excellent services of physiotherapist there and continued at a faster pace in scorching heat but the walk only got eased due to the amazing picturesque landscape. The view of the Mulshi lake was therapeutic.
When we reached CP 4 we had completed (43.8 KM) and when we decided to leave from here we found that 45 teams were already ahead of us. The walk from CP 4 was pleasant as the scorching sun had hit the sack and near full moon was in sight. Cool winds blew across our ears and with a slight nip in the air, our pace automatically increased. It was almost meditative to do the brisk walk in dark. We were walking fast but, silently.
We walked through the night as was decided earlier. When we left CP7 (75 KM) at around 4.20 AM our entire body was under tremendous pain and exhaustion largely due to lack of sleep. We were awake for more than 24 hrs by now ….but, we felt high and our determination to finish fast only grew stronger. By this time 22 Teams were ahead of us.
CP7 to CP8 was the best walk as we sang all along the trail, cracked jokes, pulled each other’s leg and passed 3-4 teams ahead of us. We reached CP8 (86.6 KM) by dawn.
We were in a very bad shape. My left knee was in tremendous pain but mind was determined to do better. We took the physio service, Umesh my teammate popped a combiflam (pain killer) and we left. By now we realized there were only 12 teams ahead of us. This fact got us charged up and we now wanted to be among the top 10 teams.
The idea of being in top 10 crossed our minds but we were still 7 KMs away when we reached CP9 (93.7km) only 11 teams were ahead of us. The gap had considerably reduced and we are now more determined to finish within the top 10 teams. Hence we skipped taking a break at CP 9 and just continue faster. At 96 KM, my teammate Naresh and me were limping but Balwant and Umesh -With renewed energy of combiflam were stronger. The gap between us was increasing.
I thought with this limping I will not be able to cover the gap so I started jogging and passed Balwant and Umesh. The idea was to move ahead and create a long gap and then rest for a while. Suddenly, I saw another team ahead. We as a team got together and decided that let’s attempt to cross them by running and try to be in top 10.
I could not believe myself and my eyes that we had actually started running. Naresh began with his limping but soon picked up pace. So last 4 Km were fun, we not only crossed the team ahead but, also got the 9th place overall with a timing of 28hrs:11Min:9 sec. We danced to the tune of the Bhangra music playing at the finish line and danced our way to the podium to collect our medals and certificates.
This journey could not have been complete without the support of many people. First and Foremost…the biggest support is our family. No words of thanks can do a justice to this.
We were also lucky to get two amazing guys, marathon runners and experienced Oxfam trail walkers Vishal Mahajan and Suresh Sharma as our support crew. Their smile/high fives/motivating words at every intersection and checkpoint kept us going. Their knowledge of the trail helped us a lot. How much ever we say thanks to them it is still not enough words of thanks are enough for them.
Also to be able to do this we had practiced for close to over 2 months. Since we are runners we used to do 7 to 8 km run daily and 12 to 18 km run on weekends. We did 2 practice walks one of 40 km one of 29 km by walking over 10-20 km and more every week.
Thanks to GOQii for support and motivating us and arranging many small, small things… Special thanks to Krishna Kumar and Vishal Gondal and above all thanks to all our donors who contributed towards the cause that we were walking for and without the donors this walk could not have been possible. Last but not the least a big thank you to my GOQii coach Kruti for supporting me with all the right advice for me to be able to complete this 100 km trailwalk.