Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Auroville Race report

"Run for the joy of running" is the motto of Auroville marathon. It needs a special kind of effort to execute such a lofty motto. Several things have to be in place to ensure that runners can think beyond  quotidian and enjoy the race.  Auroville marathon delivered on this promise.

With no timing chip, and hence no timing certificate, it clearly sends a strong signal. Indeed, time does take some joy out of running. Although, they did had a clock timer at the finish line. Auroville trail was beautiful. Auro organizers were able to carve out a full 21K loop. Running 21K fully in an unknown stretch is a rare occurrence in Indian circuits. The aid stations had refill points where people running with bottles can fill-up directly from a can instead of wasting small cups. They were appropriately placed after a good gap of around 10 feet from regular tables to avoid any jams.  Aid stations itself were well organized with bananas, oranges, and Chikki. The trail was shaded most of the time. In a couple of  stretches, we were running on red sand. Otherwise it was nice trail ground or paved road. Weather in the start was great, mist covered us everywhere. It did became hot after 8 am. The trail provided enough variations to not get bored of the run at all.

The cheering support at Auro was much better than what i had seen in Delhi and KTM. There were a lot of volunteers helping with the trail. Cyclists were patrolling everywhere and asking us to run on the left whenever a full marathoner was passing us. In the last 2-3K there were some folks standing with Spray cans, spraying water on your face to finish off the race soon. At around 2K mark, I remember seeing an old lady with white hair standing in front of her house, which was in middle of this jungle, tightly holding a crutch in her right hand standing and cheering. Locals came out and cheered with big smiles. It was inspiring. The 7+ member band at 1K mark was a delight.

My run was good. It took me about 2 hrs 24 mins to finish the race. I slowed little bit in the end as i was exhausted, otherwise it was a good run. From 6K to 16K i had the pleasure of running with Prasad who had sharing nice stories about INTACH, their Amritsar chapter, partition, Pondicherry and French colonization. He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge.  I am glad that he was able to talk and run at his pace. Thanks to him, the run went quite fast for me.  The food later - pongal, vada and sambhar was delicious.

Auroville the town had won me over the day before. With such nice coffee shops and food options, i am already a fan. Auroville is a race that i am definitely going to run next year.

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