Garhwal Run 2019 – Road to LA Ultra 111 kms

Guest post by:- Dr. Anupam Das

About The Runner:

Mohd Rizwan, 32 Years, Male.

Works at Tabono Sports (Which Organized Millenium City Marathon, Gurugram, Lucknow City Half Marathon, Lucknow).

He is a passionate runner and cyclist, started running in 2015. Around 2015 he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and spinal pain along with being overweight at 90kgs. He realized that it was high time to make fitness a priority and used it as a trigger. He has since then competed in many long distance runs and this is the story of his first steps towards being an Ultra Marathoner.

At a Check post

Garhwal Run 2019- Road to LA Ultra 111 km Dehradoon to Dhanaulti 74 km

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” – Tony Robbins

People know me less as a runner more of a person organizing endurance run events.

I realised this when people in my circle started to ask me recently, “When did you start running?” some of my friends were enjoying also “Ohh! You became an ultramarathoner, now.” This was after I did 50 km from ‘Dehradun to Dhanaulti’ in The Garhwal Run 2019.

Garhwal Runs is a qualifying run for ultra runners who desire to take part in 111 km category at La Ultra – The High. Those looking at qualifying for La Ultra – The High 2019 has to cover the 74 Km distance in 11 hrs. Though the overall event cut-off is 12 hrs.

The Garhwal run puts the runner through his endurance capability, testing his/her ascent throughout the distance, running through lush green forests and countryside of Himalayan foothills. Till the finishing point, Dhanaulti at the TOP, the runner travels through the villages of Kokriyal, Dubhra, Sakalana, and Daulagiri.

Total elevation gained by the runner on the race route is 7300 feet.

Yes, I was DNF at 74km run at “ Garhwal Run”, qualifier for La-Ultra, but I did attempt this tough challenge, because deep inside me there is a runner, who started way back in 2015 with 1 km difficult walk, to be followed by 200m walk runs, to be guided by an elderly person in a local park at Lucknow. Which later translated to a couple of 21km half marathons and a 12-hour stadium run in December 2016.

Being associated with Ultra Man Abhishek Mishra in organizing endurance runs during the running season, I get less chance to find time for run during the busy running season.

I targeted 74km Garhwal Run, Dehradun to Dhanaulti, which is a qualifier for the La Ultra. Being associated with runners in the last couple of years, I knew very few runners target this tough challenge.

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” – Tony Robbins. Not exactly the quote, but similar thoughts in mind, I registered for the event on the last day.

The time of the event suited me, as it was just after the 4th edition LCHM, so it was a break for me from my busy schedule.

During the run

I told deep inside me there is a runner, we runner’s take a break from routine by running only.

We reached Dehradun after almost 16 hours of exhausting travel road, by the evening of the 8th Feb 2019, & checked in a hotel, to sleep at about 12 O’Clock at night. It was a challenge for me to wake up at 5am in the morning after the daylong exhaustion.

I depended completely on the alarm to wake me up.

Though alarm God did not ditch me, & woke me up at 5AM, my calculation went little wrong. I had planned to check out while going out. Check out process took a little longer than expected, as the staff at reception took longer than expected to complete the formalities.

This was my first mistake as the flag off was to be at exactly 6:00AM. Though I reached just 1 minute before flag off, I missed vital warm-up & stretching before the Herculean Task ahead. When I look back, I feel, I should have started warm up and stretching while my friend Arpit was completing the formalities of check out at the hotel.

There were approximately 25-30 runners with me who were there at the flag off of 33km & 74 km event.

I started to run in pitch dark with my headlights on, it was very cold as it rained continuously for the last two days and there was snowfall above, our destination Dhanaulti.

The initial 5km was to some extent flat with fewer elevations, I was running the pace of 6.30-6.40 min per km. I was tempted to run little faster, but as I had heard from other runners, that always conserve energy while you are on ultra, I restricted my pace to complete 5km in 33 minutes approx.. I thought I will conserve my energy as suggested to run faster after 21km, which one of my friends told that there will be 26km downhill. Throughout this first 21km I kept thinking the easier part is ahead, let me conserve my energy, by running easy now, which I will make up in 26 kms ahead.

In a way to conserving my energy, I ignored the proper assessment of the cut-offs. The official cut off at 21km was 3 hours 15 minutes and the cut off at 47km was 7 hours.

At 19th km, as I was running through the narrow hilly curved route, all of a sudden I heard the sound of, some stones & sand falling from my right side, the side which had the hills. It was my first encounter with landslides in life. It took me a fraction of a second to realize what it is.

I had to decide quickly, either I run forward very fast to avoid getting hit by the stones, or I moved to the left side of the road to fall several hundred meters below to the precipes of the hills there was nothing on that side except steep downhill.

I escaped the stones, but only to realize that I had developed little uneasiness behind the back of my right knee, which gradually kept increasing.

I finished first 21kms at 2 hours 55 minutes. I now realize that I could have finished this distance easily at 2 hours 40 minutes with 15 minutes more in my hand to reach the next cut off more easily, without stressing my body.

I reached 21km well within cut off, took refreshments & hydration support to start again within 1 to 2 minutes of reaching.

Post 21kms, I was eagerly waiting for the downhill part of the route as was described by one of my fellow runners. But actually, the route was little uphill to be followed by little downhill, which continued as I advanced.

The wait for my uninterrupted downhill track continued till 30km and I was getting impatient. At this point, I saw some villagers, who were enjoying the cozy comfort of sunrays with bonfire light around them. I paused for a moment and asked one of them, “ Ye batao bhaiya, ye chadai kab khatam hogi, aur dhal kad suru hoga” (Please tell me, When will the uphill route finish & downhill start?).

His answer was not at all encouraging for me.

I now came to know that the route is a mix of uphill and downhill throughout.

All that I could get was a mix of downhill and plain route of 4 to 5kms, which I could get only after 43km to up to 47kms, the finishing point of second cut off.

After crossing the villagers, though their reply broke my heart, I continued to advance on the tough hilly track to conquer the remaining distance.

The uneasiness at the back of the right knee has by now converted into a full-fledged pain. I applied pain reliever spray in the 33rd km, the finishing point of the 33km category.

By this time 4 to 5 runners had finished their 33km run and I could see they were relaxed by their teammates with supports and aides from the ambulance.

I thought I have Miles to Go before I can avail these luxuries.

Continued to run again to reach at 40km, by which time the pain had become severe. I stopped to take help from my support van. I discussed with them about the pain and told I would not be able to continue anymore.

Luckily I had Ultra Runner Nitin Pandey with us, who immediately came to my rescue & started stretching my legs.

As Nitin was stretching my legs, I saw a runner carrying a bag with two water bottles, running and cheering a fellow runner Mr Kartik.

I exclaimed to the well-built runner, “Sir’ are you from the Army?”

I could not believe a person can run with weights in this hilly terrain. But I could very well see, he was carrying two water bottles and a bag in his back and cheering runner Kartik.

The well-built runner told, “Yes, I am from Army”. Whatever difficult my condition was at that moment, I felt a sense of deep respect from inside me for this person as well as to our army brothers.

L.L Meena is a major runner. He has represented India at World 100k & Asia 24hrs where India won bronze

It was later when I quitted the race, I came to know he is one of the fastest Ultra Runners of India “Mr. L L Meena”

I was comforted by the stretching, but the pain was persisting. I started to run again, now with Mr L L Meena & Mr Kartik. I discussed with them about the pain, to which Kartik suggested, that I could take a pain killer.

I have not thought about this option until this time. Luckily the medical ambulance van of the route support team was crossing us at that moment. We stopped them and got a pain killer tablet and they applied pain killer gel to the area again.

This relieved my pain a little, but by this time both my fellow runners had crossed me and gone ahead.

I did not feel comfortable being alone at this stage with pain and exhaustion overpowering my will power. I needed some support, even if it is psychological; having a fellow runner by my side.

I started to walk-run faster as much as I could and I met them again at 42nd km.

But the pain was not allowing me to run properly, I had 30 minutes to cover 5km to reach the 2nd cut off at 47km. I told L L Meena & Kartik to go ahead, as I would not be able to run at the pace of 6min per km now. I felt horrible.

At this moment Nitin Pandey reached again with the support van. He got down from the van and tried to motivate me by saying that he would be running with me to help me to complete in time.

Nitin said, “ It’s either a ‘Do’ or ‘Die’ situation.“ To relieve me of the weight I was carrying, he took off my jacket, spectacles and kept running with me.

I started to run again with him with my all energy left. The condition of my body and the tough terrain was not in my favor to cover the remaining 5km in those 30 minutes to reach 47th km within the cut off 7 hours. But I do not know how I gathered my energy and ran as fast as I could.

“Your watch might not be giving right time, his one might be correct” – Nitin told me when I was 200 meters from the cut off line of 47kms, when I told him it is already 7 hours.

These were his words of motivation for me as he wanted me to give a last try and not leave any chance of technical fault to put water to all my efforts.

I ran like as if my life is at stake, with all the pain in my right leg.

It was approximately 1 minute over the cut off finally and I was disqualified officially.

I still wanted to test my limits, I tried to complete the target and started again to reach 74km mark, but I had to give up at 50th KM as my pain had become too severe to continue anymore.

In covering the highest distance of my life, 50 km in this tough yet beautiful hilly terrain I took 7 hours 49 minutes and gained an elevation of 4,723.6 meters.

I decided, I will come back again to conquer soon, as “I have begun the journey already, it’s not going to be impossible anymore”.

– Mohd Rizwan’s Story as Narrated by Dr Anupam Das.


The Cricket Bat

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The Cricket Bat

The continuous ringing of doorbell was a unique trait of Papa’s arrival. Every time that happened I almost instinctively knew who would be on the other side of the door. I was right this time too.

As soon as he entered he announced, “Listen I have a meeting in the evening and I will be leaving early. Sit down, I want to have a quick chat regarding the preparations of the reception”. We both sat down on the sofa in the living room and started discussing. I told him about the things that were already taken care of and what were the expenses involving that.

He went to the items that were yet to be finalized and what would it approximately cost us. While he was still speaking I don’t know when I involuntarily stood up and started walking to and fro. In fact, I didn’t realize until he pointed out to me.

“Why can’t you simply sit and continue a serious conversation? Why are you so restless always?” Papa questioned digressing from the main discussion. By now mom and sister had also joined in. In an attempt to showcase sincerity I blurted, “I am all ears and listening very carefully to what all you are suggesting”.

A smirk had already formed on my sister’s face. She knew where this was heading, like the usual conversations where, in the end, Papa will get angry and frustrated and without completing the discussion, shout at me and leave for some work.

My Cricket Bat

Papa began again with the details. A few minutes later he shouted again. This time I was unconsciously shadowing batting postures with my favorite childhood bat in my hands. “I am earnestly listening to you, Papa. I swear. I can repeat each and every word that you have said”, I pleaded to keep him calm.

It was too late. He was already irritated and all I could overhear was he shouting at mom saying what’s wrong with this boy? Why can’t he just listen to me? Even if he can’t…he can at least act? Someday I will definitely burn this cricket bat of his, somehow it becomes a part of every discussion. My mom sarcastically replied to him, “You are the one who gifted the bat to him”.

The ignition of the car suggested that Papa drive away. My sister was now laughing, as it was a daily routine for her to see every discussion end this way.

My parents say that I have a good memory and a decent recall power. As far as I can remember the first memory about myself is holding a plastic cricket bat and being surrounded by plastic cricket balls. I was about 8 or 9 years old when Papa gifted this bat to me.

Even in ‘the State of Happiness’ I highlighted this. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

I would carry this bat along with me everywhere possible. Like the girls have their dolls by their side, I would have my bat. I would even sleep with it. I have scored most of my childhood runs with this bat. I still remember how Papa taught me to oil a cricket bat and how I would take care of it like the most precious thing in the world.

It has seen its ups and downs. They were phases where I felt that it might get broken but with the help of some adhesive tapes and extra love and care, it has seen those treacherous and scary days off.

Even today, if you visit my house you will find it in the living room living along with us. You will still see me playing around with it, mimicking cricketing postures even during serious discussions. There were many times when my mother and sister during their clean-up drives, tried to get rid of it. But they know that it is like those older movies of fairy tales where the villain will only die once you kill his pet parrot, similarly my lies in this cricket bat. It is my first cricket bat and is like my first love.

For all those who love cricket,

For all those who have their bats with them,

For all those who still play with them,


For all those who are still living with them…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul



This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living

Healthy Living

Indulging in sports and outdoor activities can make you a healthier and fitter person both physically and mentally. Let’s take a look at few of the top reasons why you should be out there having some fun right now rather than staring at your screen!

1. Goodbye stress: Is life giving you lemons? Put on your sports shoes, go for a run, come back drenched in sweat, sip on the fresh lemonade you just made and voila! The lemons have been taken care of, and you are now eagerly awaiting fresh ones. Okay, what I mean by that is that working out can effectively reduce stress and prepare you for future challenges.

2. Natural anti-depressant: If you have been feeling them blues lately then prescribe yourself some exercise! Exercising for a few hours every week has been proven to increase the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and nor-epinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for a healthy brain function, and lower levels have been linked to vulnerability to depression.

3. Battle addiction: Dopamine is a ‘feel good’ chemical present in our bodies. We normally produce dopamine in response to exciting and stimulating activities like eating, exercising, sex and sadly, consumption of alcohol and drugs. People become addicted to such negative substances as they act as a source of anywhere, any time dopamine. Don’t you think a much healthier alternative to feeling good would be exercising? Exercising is highly recommended to those who are battling addiction and can help prevent relapse.

4. Boost creativity: Incorporating exercise in your daily routine can actually spark creativity in you. Recent studies found that regular exercise can boost the creative process of the brain by improving convergent and divergent thinking. While the former is concerned with coming up with the correct answer to a problem, the latter is a purely creative thought process.

5. A lighter you: It’s a known fact that indulging in physical activity burns calories and keeps you fit. Breaking a sweat can do wonders for you if you want to reduce weight. Just make sure you are wearing sportswear and not ordinary clothes when you hit the gym. Fitness clothing is specially designed to improve your performance by regulating the rate at which your body sweats and prolongs the duration before you exert yourself.

6. Cure insomnia: Lifting weights in the gym, going for a walk or playing a game of football all have a somewhat similar effect on the body. The body works hard and tires itself at the moment and demands rest by signalling the brain. Hence, resulting in deeper sleep cycles.

7. Bigger, better, faster, and stronger: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and that’s exactly what happens when you indulge in sports. When you work out, your body breaks the existing cell tissues causing the notorious muscle soreness. This damage is repaired and newer and bigger muscles are formed when you are resting. Now the fastest way to build muscles is by enrolling yourself in a gym. However, inadequate gym wear can cause injuries and must be avoided at all costs.

This is a Guest post by Parul Chahal, Jabong.

Here’e the author’s bio:

Parul Chahal is a fitness freak who likes to engage in various sports to stay active. Being a passionate writer, she likes to pen down her fitness stories to keep her readers abreast of how sports and outdoor activities can help us feel good.


For the LOVE of the GAME

For the Love of the Game…

The oldest but the strongest memory that I have from1975 my childhood is of me holding a plastic cricket bat and my father bowling with a plastic ball in the small verandah of our house. He always reminds me that he saw cricketing signs and potential in me from the very beginning and hence made it a habit that I get a daily dose of cricket with him after he returned from office. He played the game at a respectable level and always egged me to do the same. Whether it was playing the game or watching it or following it over different mediums, both of us were cricket fanatics at least since my existence.

1979          I was just two years old for the 1987 world cup and hardly have any account of it imprinted but, by the 1992 world cup, I was grown-up enough to remember glimpses of it. I remember how my father made me sleep by 8 pm so that we both could get up by 4-5 am and catch the day match as it was being hosted in Australia and New Zealand. Our cricket love didn’t translate only to India’s matches. We watched most of the matches and cheered on not only for India but also for cricket as a whole.

Currently witnessing my seventh World Cup, again being hosted in Australia and New Zealand life has kind of come a full circle for me. I have seen cricket in colored clothing with white balls under floodlights for the first time. I have seen Jonty Rhodes fly to run out Inzamam and have seen the same Inzamam single handedly batting New Zealand out of the World Cup. I have seen the terrific South Africa, on their world Cup debut, being robbed of their place by the rain gods and some genius that formulated the then rain affected matches’ rules. I have seen a captain’s (Martin Crowe) masterstroke by opening the bowling with a spinner for the first time and using Greatbatch as a pinch hinter in the 1992 World Cup. If I close my eyes I can still see Wasim Akram’s hatrick and then Imran Khan, the cornered tiger, lifting the shinning crystal trophy.1983

I have seen two Sri Lankans (Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana) opening the batting and destroying bowling attacks in the first fifteen overs. I have seen Amir Sohail intimidating Venkatesh Prasad after hitting a boundary and then losing his off stump the very next ball. I have seen the mighty West Indies being floored by the debutant Kenya after Richie Richardson failed to get them through. I have seen the Eden Gardens being decorated by plastic bottles and stones by the spectators to get the match abandoned and an in form Vinod Kambli in tears after the match was called off in the 1996 World Cup.

I have seen a cricketer1987 who was written off to play one-day cricket, score the most number of runs by a wicket keeper in any world cup by Rahul Dravid. I have seen Gibbs dropping Steven Waugh’s catch and then that lead to their ouster. I have seen Lance Klusener blasting attacks after attacks and then failing to score one run. I have seen a team (South Africa) draw a match and still being thrown out of the World Cup in 1999.

I have seen Sachin Tendulkar hit an upper cut to Shoaib Akhtar for a six and playing one of his best knocks though this was not one from his century of centuries. I have seen one of the greatest leg-spinner (Shane Warne) the world has ever seen, sent to home after being tested positive for banned substances. I have seen an associate member, a non-test playing nation (Kenya) reach the semi-finals of the biggest event in cricket in the 2003 World Cup.1992

I have seen two of the biggest cricketing nations, India and Pakistan, being knocked out in the first round of the World Cup with one of them resulting in a coach’s death which still remains a mystery. I have seen Dwayne Leverock of Bermuda shake the earth with his one handed diving catch. I have seen Ricky Ponting lift Australia’s fourth title in the 2007 World Cup.

I have seen Kevin O’brien score the fastest world cup hundred and chasing down a mammoth English total. I have seen Yuvraj Singh demolishing teams single handedly and win man of match award game after game. I have seen Australia not making the finals for the first time since 1992 world cup. I have seen the famous MSD six at Wankhede, which fulfilled Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s biggest dream to lift the 2011 world cup.

Over the ye1996ars I have seen many performances…many legends being made and destroyed. I know I am no cricketing expert but still one thing which really bothers me, is the standard of cricket that is regularly dropping. I know the numbers in the performances have been improving but that doesn’t mean that the standard of cricket that is being played is of the highest grade. Blame it on the newer and newer cricketing rules, which hugely stack against the bowlers or the pitches being prepared flatter and flatter or the grounds and boundaries becoming shorter and shorter or the cricket bats becoming bigger and bigger. Many will counter this, but to rest my case I won’t give example of Viv Richards the batsman or Wasim Akram the bowler but instead of Jonty Rhodes the fielder. I believe when Jonty burst on the international scene in the 1992 world cup he took fielding to an all different level which no one ever imagined but I’ll say, still after 23 years and six world cups later he is the greatest fielder the game ever saw. Many have come close but he is the one who still sets standards. If you observe the current world cup there has hardly been any match without a drop catch. Remember during 2011’s India Vs Pakistan match, Sachin was given three to four opportunities from Pakistan as if they were the ones who never wanted Sachin to get out.1999

Similarly, now if you watch other facets of cricket, the great players can be counted on fingers of a single hand whereas in earlier world cups every team had about three to four potential match winners who could single-handedly turn a match on its head. Even the same can be said about captaincy where a world cup leader was known by his decisions and performances. From Clive Lloyd’s leading from the front attitude to Kapil Dev’s inspiring a generation…From Imran Khan’s never say die attitude to Martin Crowe’s pulling a new rabbit-out-of-the-hat every other game…From Steven Waugh’s gritty attitude to Ricky Ponting’s aggressiveness…From Sourav Ganguly’s in your face attitude to Arjuna Ranatunga’s never back down strategy.

2003         Lets talk about bowling for a moment. Every world cup team had a great bowling line up in the past, and even if they didn’t have three to four frontline bowlers, they always had one or two world-class bowlers up their ranks. Remember when Zimbabwe defeated India in the 1999 World Cup they had Heath Streak and Henry Olonga in their side. But sadly that doesn’t reflect in the recent teams. After Wasim, Waqar and Akhtar retired no one seems to fill their shoes for Pakistan, Similarly for Australia and likewise for West Indies and every other team. For me the biggest downfall for West Indies was their inability to produce Fast bowlers of the caliber and class of teams that played till 1996. The last spinner who has an awesome record in all formats of the game is Daniel Vettori but sadly he will also finish this world cup and then we will be left with some part-timers who can just roll their arms over to complete the quota of overs. I guess by the next world cup we will have all the 11 players as batsmen and whosoever scores more wins.2007

I don’t think so I should discuss about all-rounders because I hardly see any genuine ones at this world cup, considering the fact that you can’t even consider Afridi as one these days. Its high time that we realize what impact T20s are having over the game.

I believe that for any sport to grow it needs heroes and super stars for the younger and coming generation to idolize them. Just look at the stars playing the 2015 world cup who are tipped to take cricket forward and become the next legends of the game, From Virat Kohli to AB De’villiers, from Hashim Amla to Kane Williamson, from Steve Smith to Shikhar Dhawan, all are batsmen with a lone Dale Steyn or Mitchel Starc here and there. If the game really wants to maintain the standard of the game it needs to produce stars in all departments. Otherwise you’ll have Virat Kohli breaking Viv Richards’ records and in a months’ time Hashim Amla doing the same to Virat, without being in2011 the same league in which you could keep Viv, Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, Jayasuriya n the list goes on. They are legends because of the bowling they faced in that era. Viv Richards to have a strike rate of around 92 in that era is actually freaky. Just imagine what he would have done in this era when the many of the grounds don’t have 60-meter boundaries.

My humble request to ICC would be to make the game more competitive and this can only be done if there would be a balance between bat and bowl and then only there will be players who will go from good to great and great to legends otherwise it will be just like the present world cup, win the toss…elect to bat first and score more than 300 and make the match a big bore. Make it an even contest otherwise that day isn’t far away when the stars that rule the game will be very few and even fewer who appreciate the game, who follow the game and the ones like me who simply worship the game.

This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul