Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech Marathon Report

Reproduced verbatim from my own race report, what was supposed to make to the RFL newsletter, but didn’t. Did the weight of engagement ring add any extra to the timing?? Find out in the analysis of my own race in the section “Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best” at the end.

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech marathon featured in the coveted list of ‘new’ marathons along with the likes of Auroville, The Great Tibet & Coorg marathons. Some pioneering RFLers (Bhasker, Shyam, et al) had run the last year’s edition, and the feedback was very promising. (Bhasker’s best Indian marathon timing in his 12-marathons-in-12-months was at Hyd). With Rajesh Vetcha (a passionate runner & ex-RFLer) at the helm of organizing, my expectations were naturally, right up there.

My training goals for the year filtered out just 2 runs – the Hi-tech marathon and the Ultra. With so much at stake, I was delighted to see the dates for the marathon announced about a month in advance.

Right from the registration process, there were signs of meticulous planning (the site accepted ‘Mastercard’ credit cards ). In the days leading to the race day, Rajesh confirmed our stay in the dorm of the Gachibowli Stadium, the race route was published on the event website, emails with instructions on how to reach Gachibowli had reached us.

There was a loud & noisy gang that landed at Hyderabad on 29th Aug taking the Kachebowli Exp or the Gareeb Rath – BHUKMP team (Rishi, Amrita, Vasu, Nari), Deepak, ANS, Ram, Manmohan, Shumit & Rahul. We received fantastic support from Ganesh, from the organizing team who ensured (as Rishi put it) we were treated like the elite athletes.

A few of us got to test the conditions with a short 5k run in the synthetic tracks of Gachibowli stadium. Ganesh ensured that we focused on rest & carb loading – he took down names and t-shirt sizes and saved us the trouble of travelling for registrations.
Carb-loading was at Paradise in the evening over late lunch. Heaps of Hyderabadi Biryani disappeared & some more was packed for dinner.

The Race Day:
The Route: The race was a A to B run, starting at KBR Park in Jubilee hills via Hi-Tex City to ISB campus, then into the Hyderabad University & ending in Gachibowli Stadium. The entire route is undulating, with an overall gain in elevation of 850m. There was no shade cover for nearly 75% of the route and there are some uphills that last for a couple of kms. It’s definitely not the easiest course, but what made it memorable was the way it was managed.

• A High-Tech bus to take the outstation runners to the start
• An early 5:30am start
• Well stocked aid stations every 2km (water, electrolytes, bananas, oranges, biscuits, muscle relaxant sprays, sponges dipped in cold water). All of this was available right through the route, the sponges make a lot of difference of a hot day
• Good support from Hyderabad Police & Athletic Association. The Police riding motorbikes alongside runners towards the end of the race. Although there was sparse traffic, the Police made sure that they manned every intersection. There was no single incident that I faced where there was traffic hindrance
• Fantastic route – the organizers had worked on feedback from last year and had made subtle modifications to the route to avoid boring sections towards the end of the race.
• At the finish, medals were given as the runners finished and timings & names were recorded accurately to avoid mistakes
• Warm food was available at the finish is sufficient numbers (I cleaned 3 packets myself). The Pongal (Khichidi) was way better than the sandwiches that are provided at the finish of some races. I could see a Rajesh Vetcha chapa in most of this nuances.
Little wonder then, that, the BHUKMP / RFL team from Bangalore bagged 5 out of 10 positions in the amateur category (and RFLers came 11th in both full & half marathon). We had 3 out of the first 5 – a majority, whichever way you slice it. ANS had a lot of answering to do after his 3:32hr finish. Deepak & I stuck to plan – finishing in 3:43 & 3:50 respectively. Vasu came in 5th at 4:01hrs. It was a PB for all of us. Chandru was 10th at 4:23hr.
As was claimed by the organizers, it was truly “A run for the runners, by the runners”, one that should definitely be added to your running calendars.
And… time to take me out for a by-two filter coffee, Mr. Arvind Krishnan!!
“Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best”
Coincidentally, the last time I got a personal best was with Chest No. 25 at Auroville. I was pleased when the number was handed to me again.
On the eve of the marathon, while Deepak & I were discussing strategy on how we should pace ourselves for the run, Nari who stopped to listen in, dropped this pearl. He said “(In spite of all strategies)…finally it comes down to how badly you want it”. Take a moment to think, doesn’t it all come down to that, wow!

So I decided to go for it… might as well try and fail, than not try and fail – Try and fail, but don’t fail to try. So Deepak & I decided to keep 11kmph pace for as long as we could, my own personal goal was also to keep running for the entire race duration.

And this is what we did, we ran at steady pace including the climbs. But we made sure we increased the strides on the down-hills throughout the undulating course. Vasu remarked after the race about how we nearly blasted away on the long down-hill after ISB (at the 28k mark or so). The Gramin charts shows the fantastic co-relation between elevation and our pace!
The Result: A personal best at 3:50:01 for me, 4th position in the amateur category, Rs. 2000 in prize money – truly, the extra weight of the engagement ring did not affect the result. Perhaps, as Rishi pointed out, it only add the weight of responsibility on the shoulder…


Arvind said...

Just say when sir, will he happy to buuy you coffee!!

Arvind said...

Sorry, "buy"