VVMM Full Marathon, December 2017- Hazy Dazy Run

This year after the Runbuddies- Great Monsoon Marathon Challenge, Salaj and I were all geared up for the Western Ghats Ultra 50K on 24th December.  In fact I registered for the Mumbai Marathon FM only because it would be all tapering after the Ultra 😉.  However, the Ultra was postponed, a classic case of Runner proposing and Runbuddies disposing 😂.  Fortunately I was informed about the change by Kalyani Tokekar, a runner friend from Pune.

Having put in some serious mileage, I was in no mood to switch gear and allow all that training to just lapse.  Tweaking our training schedule a bit, we decided to do the FM at Vasai Virar despite having heard that it’s not exactly the best in terms of Support.  After all, if nothing else, it would serve as a practice run for the TMM in January.  Later, Pradeep who was originally planning to do the HM joined us for the FM.  Talk about Peer pressure 😂.

Sunday morning, Salaj picked me and Paddy at around 4 am.  Turns, out we had to go via Thane and pick up Shweta Kapadia; Salaj’s trekker friend doing her HM, who was stranded due to her travel buddy backing out.  We quickly picked her and rushed to Virar cutting it real fine.  Luckily; thanks to decent roads and sparse traffic, we managed to reach well within time by 5:30 am.

It was good to meet many other Runner buddies at the Starting line-up.  Bang on at 6 am we were off and running making our way ahead through the crowd.  Running for a bit alongside Comrades Runner Satish Gujaran listening to his latest multicity run was wonderful.

The weather was muggy and hazy making us all sweat profusely right from the very first kilometer courtesy Cyclone Ockhi 😥.  Soon, Salaj and I were plodding along together keeping our eyes constantly peeled for water and enerzal.   We made sure we were sipping and pouring water on our heads right from the beginning.

The locals and even school children were all out in full force even in the wee hours cheering and clapping making us feel like stars.  Thanking them we ran ahead soaking in the joyous atmosphere.  At around the 7-8k Mark, saw a youngster in Black fumbling while running.  He seemed to be disoriented, probably due to dehydration.  Helped the lady volunteer catch hold of him handing over my bottle of water and moved on as he was duly taken care of.

Further on we met Lalit Periwal who was running comfortably whilst playing music.  He advised us to breathe deeply through the nose and keep eating and drinking to sustain our energy throughout.

A little ahead, we crossed the flyover cheering other faster FM Runners across as we reached the U-turn.  Soon, we crossed the 11K mark where we saw several of the super-fast finishers in the Category finishing in style amongst applause and announcements.  Further on, we saw the Half Marathoners on the other side as well.  Had a blast greeting and cheering them as we ran in opposite directions.  Good to see so many familiar faces; some focused while others were having a ball.  After all it’s not every day that you get to run to the sound of live Dhol beats, peppy music blaring from strategically placed loudspeakers, various school kids with placards cheering and giving us high fives and the locals handing out water throughout the Route.  The Vasai Virar Half Marathon is one amazing experience 🤗.

Running steadily we made sure we stayed hydrated constantly drinking water, even turning back to stop and drink Enerzal from the cups on offer.  Quickly we covered ground and passed the halfway mark thanks to our Chitchat session 😁.  That’s when Salaj told me to go ahead as he had cut his foot due to chaffing of his Sandal strap. Spotting an Ambulance just ahead I told him to get a bandage as I moved on.

Accepting some Rock Salt from Lalit Periwal I ran ahead.  Ajay Ghose joined me for a bit but I moved on running quickly whilst giving high fives to the little kids on the side 😃.  Feeling good, I picked up pace after the 25k Mark overtaking Shibani Gharat and Suresh Pillai.  Just ahead, a man was doling out Glucon-D from a huge pack.  Gratefully accepting and thanking him I walked for a bit licking the white powder.

I was pleasantly surprised when a grinning Salaj rejoined me after bandaging his foot at about the 26k Mark.   We ran together jumping up on to the pavement as a bus transporting the 11k runners to the Venue took a sharp U-turn.   Just ahead at one of the water stations, we picked a bottle of Enerzal that the volunteers had filled and ran on.  However; at about the 29k mark the dressing slipped off again, and Salaj urged me to go ahead whilst he went easy.

I ran on confidently overtaking a few runners as I went.  I was surprised to overtake speedster Shweta Soral at the 32k Mark.  Poor girl had a bad case of cramps and was really struggling 😔.  Encouraging her, I moved on spotting Neha Lodha and ran quickly to catch up with her.  Somehow I didn’t see her and moved towards the flyover as I saw Chitu Shetty running up on to the other side.

Taking the U-turn I ran on to the Flyover making my way up steadily.  Soon I reached the top and waving at the Volunteers controlling traffic, made my way running down quickly.  By then I was prepared to switch to Self-supported Run mode based on the past feedback.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to get Oranges with Salt as well as Enerzal even at about 35k.  Volunteers as well as Police were doing their best clapping, cheering and managing traffic as the roads opened.

Further on, I picked up Glucose biscuits from a Volunteer and walked a bit while eating and drinking water.  Refreshed, I ran on enjoying the beauty around the Virar village roads.  Passing by the pond I met Amit; a Borivali resident working at Glenmark, who was doing his very first FM 😎.  At the 38K mark he told me to move ahead as he walked for a bit.  Encouraging him to finish strong I ran ahead steadily.

Feeling good; I kept going, determined not to walk now.  The HM sign boards didn’t make it any easier as I kept reading them calculating the distance ahead.  Overtaking a few more runners I ran on finally reaching the 40k mark.  Urging myself on, I ran thinking I had to just take the next right to the Finish Line.  Obviously we had to go a little further to finish our FM.  Running past Milan Rai and Ishu Budhrani who had another bad case of cramps, I saw the Runner ahead scream loudly.  Asking if he was ok I ran and took the final U-turn.  Heading back towards the final turn to the Finish line, the earlier runner told me he too had cramps 😑.

Encouraging him that it was just about the last kilometer, I moved towards the final turn.  Catching sight of the 4:30 pacer walking ahead I felt I had a chance to get my PB.  I picked up my pace as I saw the Clock waving to Arjun Virdi.  With a last burst of speed I crossed the Finish Line all smiles as Photographer Michael Dsouza captured the moment perfectly 😊.  Yes, I had managed to get my PB of 4:27:28; marginal though it was, finishing 5th in Women.  Definitely, an event I will do again; totally Value for Money, of course with plenty of scope for improvement.

 

 

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Tiger’s Point Hill Challenge HM, December 2017- And The Wind Blows

Last year we skipped the First Edition of this Lonavala Event as it was just after Pune Ultra.  This time, once Registrations opened for 2017, Salaj and I pretty much registered for it immediately.  We convinced Anupma Diddi, Pradeep Rajalingappa and Sachin Gupta to join us for the Picnic.  It had been too long since all of us had an outing together after all 😅.  Salaj’s and Pradeep’s wives- Sunita and Shalini also joined us in the fun along with MSCI Colleague, Sujit.

Sunday morning, our motley group along with KC Kiran piled in and took off in two cars at 4 am for Lonavala.  Had a blast chatting and laughing as we drove enjoying the beauty of the Glorious Full Moon.  Reaching Hotel Manik Moti comfortably by 5:30 we collected our Bibs and freshened up.  It was wonderful meeting so many other Runner Buddies; some after a long time 🤗.

It was quite chilly that morning with a gusty wind blowing.  We decided to go for some hot chai at the Stall across the street.  Warming up, we were back just in time for Yogesh Namjoshi’s beautiful Rendition of “Morya Morya.”  What a fantastic way to get us all upbeat and ready for the Race 😎.

All of us HM Runners then moved towards the Starting Line-up.  Soon after some quick photos we were off and running at precisely 6:15.  Just as we took off we encountered a car immediately thanks to the Blind turn though we managed to bypass and move ahead quickly.

Salaj and I ran together comfortably.  We had already decided to take it easy and walk uphill wherever required just as in Satara.  The route was a tough one and definitely not one for PB.  We moved ahead steadily picking up water and drinking Enerzal as we went.  The weather was fabulous though the strong  gusty winds didn’t make it exactly easy for us.  Soon Mufaddal overtook us exclaiming about enjoying running in his Coldest Race yet.

A little further, we encountered a group in Orange that had been running earlier.  I quickly joined them and found out that they were the gang from MIG Bandra doing their long run of 56K+ there 😌.  Wishing them Luck as they ran back and forth from CCD to Amby Valley we went ahead.

Further on, we crossed the Lion Point where we stopped with Salaj pointing out the Lion’s face as well as Tiger point view several times as we moved ahead.  We were soon greeted by Samir Kulkarni cheering “Come On Manasi, Come on” loudly at the next water station.  Quickly ran to him and asked “Ab Bolo, kahaan jaana hai.” 😂

We ran on enjoying the fabulous Scenery around catching sight of the beautiful Orange Sun at one point.  Salaj made sure that we walked-ran in tangents throughout.  As we ran past the Fantasy Resort we came across Manoj Rane sprinting away to glory.  Teasing him about having run 50K, we proceeded and soon saw several of our faster Runner Buddies as they ran back 😃.

Cheering everyone we ran ahead and finally reached the U-turn making our way back downhill.  At one point, I quickly stopped and bowed to Deepak Ingawale as he whipped out his Camera 😀.  Bit further, thought I spotted a Swan in the pond of one of the Resorts as we ran listening to their sounds 😮.  We moved on making our way cautiously as some Bombastic Harley Bikers zoomed off over the Rolling Hill Route.    We kept hydrated drinking and pouring water on our heads.  Water Stations practically every 2K with enthusiastic volunteers and well placed Photographers made sure we were well taken care of 😄.

As we ran back, I followed steadily trying to keep pace with Salaj who was a little ahead.  With about 5k or so to go, a Car with some Idiots suddenly stopped and slowed down shouting in a bid to get my attention.  Finally realizing it was futile they moved ahead spraying Air Freshner as they went 😠.  Quickly catching up with Salaj I told him not to go too far ahead.  All the while he’d thought it was a Volunteer Car.

Running together comfortably we reached the water station at the last 2.5K mark.  Suddenly I realized that Vaijayanthi Ingawale who had been following us steadily was right next to me.  Electrified, I just took off from that point on sprinting all the way with the Easy Run plan going for a toss 😂.

Crossing the last water station I urged myself to just keep going till the end.  I quickly ran on as I glimpsed Anupma climbing some Rock.  Elated to finally see the End in sight, I turned and entered the Ground crossing the Finish Line all Smiles amongst loud Cheering 🤗.  Finished in an unexpected 2:02:14 standing Second in Women’s Open Category while Anupma stood Third in 10K in Veteran Women’s Category 😊.

Had a wonderful time singing and dancing to the Yogesh Namjoshi’s melodious songs.  Indeed a fantastic End to a fantastic Event.  The Eggs at breakfast and Chotu Vaseline in the Goody bag were a wonderful touch by the thoughtful Runburn Organizers 😁.  Icing on the cake was kidding around post Race as well as having our buddies Sachin Singh and Vijay Kamath join us for our Lunch.  Yaari, Dosti, Masti- Majjaani Life 😎.

 

 

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Devendra Mane- From the Couch to Coach

As a youngster, Devendra was not really into any kind of sports in School or College. His sporting ability was pretty much restricted to Gulli Cricket. Going on to work in Sales and Training lead to frequent traveling. In 2008 his work-related Traveling increased drastically taking a toll on his weight and health. He pretty much ballooned up from a sprightly 68kg to an overweight 85kg. 😓

Realisation time

During this phase, he experimented with Crash Diets like the GM Diet when he lost about 5kg in a week and ended up regaining the same and more when going off it. He soon realized that these short cuts were not going to work. 😑

Devendra’s father, Gajanan Mane, an ex-Navy man was an ardent walker even walking distances from Mumbai to Pune. A very well-known social activist in the field Leprosy Eradication, he has won many accolades from the Local and State government. 🤗

Gajanan Mane
In 2011, Gajanan Mane decided to set off for a Multi-day walk to Ratnagiri covering a distance of 365kilometers in 8 days with the intention of spreading awareness about Leprosy Eradication.
That morning, Devendra decided to accompany his father for a distance of 3k till the Highway and bid him adieu for his journey. Returning home he realized he enjoyed the 6k walk tremendously and decided to do it regularly.

During the same period, Devendra’s Boss from AEGON Religare, Delhi who was a Marathoner came up with a Sales Strategy based on “Ultramarathon Man- Dean Karnazes”. Books of Ultramarathon Man were distributed to the Sales team. Basically they were to achieve a target of 150 crores over 3 months. Essentially it was taking inspiration from Dean who ran 50k daily for a period of 50 days. Similarly, they were to achieve their set targets just as Dean accomplished his mission. A contest called “The Biggest Loser” was also introduced wherein the person who lost the maximum weight would be awarded.

the meets that changed me
Inspired by the book, in November 2011, Devendra decided to take up his 6k walk diligently in order to achieve this goal. Plugging in his earphones, listening to music the Evening 6k walk became a daily fixture. He started enjoying this special time when he went into Switch off Mode. He ended up coming down from 83kg to 76kg over the next 3 months winning the Contest in the process. 🤗

He went on to lose another 6kg over the next 6 months getting fitter with proper exercise and nutrition.

At the time, Devendra stopped eating Sweets completely besides skipping Rice during Dinner. Running 4 times a week covering about 30k per week along with a day of Core and Strength training further helped in weight-loss. Having skipped Strength training lot of times due to boredom and suffering from an ITBS, he learnt it’s importance the hard way 😑 and now ensures he does it diligently.

In 2013 Devendra mentioned to a friend that he was contemplating doing 7k at the SCMM Dream Run in January. Since he was already doing 6k walk daily his friend said that he should do the HM instead. Obviously Devendra shrugged him off in disbelief but when he spoke to his Marathoner friend, Dhananjay Shettigar, he encouraged him to do so. Training over a period of 6 months Devendra went on to do his very first HM on August 15, 2012 at BNP finishing in 2:40 😃. However, this was more like a friendly run organized by Ram Venkatraman and Group and not a timed event. Thereafter he did several such other untimed events.

First HM
Reality hit hard when he was unable to register for the HM at SCMM in 2013 due to lack of timing certificate 😥. That’s when Devendra did his very first timed event, 10k at the Powai Run finishing in 60 minutes in 2013. He went on to do his first SCMM HM in January 2014.

First SCMM
Till then he was not active on social media and for over a year after that he had been a Solo Runner just like so many of us. It was only in March 2015 that he joined the Mumbai Road Runners (MRR) group on Facebook.

Connecting with Bijay Nair, he volunteered for the May 2015 MRR and went on to meet many other fellow Runners. On his way back home to Dombivli with Shashin Rao, he got to know about Gaurav Bharadwaj and the Kalyan-Dombivli Runners (KDR) group 😊.

Devendravolunteered for the next KDR Run getting to know other local runners in the process. Thereafter he went on to do several HM’s, FM’s and Ultra Marathons. He also introduced many office, college and school friends to running. 😎

Mumbai Ultra 2015
KDR, a motley group of about 10 runners who met and ran together fortnightly (2nd and 4th Sunday) has grown to more than 75 now. They have 7k Promo Runs on Dussehra and Diwali to encourage and inspire others to join this wonderful Free Runner Group. The enthusiasm has grown from about 75 runners at the first Promo Run to more than 1300 now.

KDR Group1
Devendra gives all credit to MRR and in turn KDR for playing a huge role in improving his Running Form as well as Knowledge. They served as an excellent platform to interact with Senior Runners who shared their thoughts and clarified several doubts. 😀

In 2016, Devendra took a sabbatical in order to pursue his PhD. Meanwhile, he also did the ACSM Marathon Training course and became a Certified Marathon Coach. ☺

Team RunBurn
Along with friends Dhananjay Shettigar and Vishwanathan Iyer he founded RunBurn, a fitness events company. RunBurn is into arranging running events as well as providing coaching at Kalyan, Dombivli, and BKC. They have had low cost, well managed niche events including Tiger Hill Lonavala, Dombivli Pride Run and the Alpha Trail Run. RunBurn Academy is training more than 85 Runners including 30-35 newbies who will doing their very first Mumbai Marathon in 2018 having successfully qualified for it. 🤗

Runburn Coaching Gang
In 2016 Devendra moved on from racing to pacing. He has paced for 10K Runs successfully in more than 10-12 events. Now he wants to restrict to racing in 1 or 2 events while pacing and helping others achieve their goals in the rest. 😎.

Currently he follows a training schedule of 4 days Running- Including Speed Intervals, Tempo Runs, Slow Runs and LSD (Long slow Distance), 1 day Legs Strength, 1 day Core/Stretching along with 1 non-negotiable Rest Day.

Devendra advocates setting small Goals. He does not believe in putting too much pressure on oneself as regards Running in different Events as long as one continues achieving the primary goal of Running to stay fit. He also advises going slow as too much too fast is a sure shot Recipe for Disaster while ending on a note stating, “It’s Fun to Run.” 😊

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Stone Ridge Valley HM, September 2017- Brahmagiri Pradakshina

After the heavy downpour last week, we were looking forward to a wonderful time at Nashik on Sunday.  On Saturday, my family took off along with Smita Lahigude for Stone Ridge Valley.  When we reached in the evening for Bib collection, the weather was awesome and we thought we would have a fantastic run the next day 😊.

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Dropping of Smita at the Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan we proceeded to Hotel Three Leaves.  Post check-in we went to the Trimbakeshwar mandir for Darshan.  Later after visiting the Gajanan Maharaj Mandir, we went for dinner along with Sunil and Smita. Enroute it was good to meet other MRR runners 😃.

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Sunday morning, I met Anand Kane and Gang just outside our hotel room.  They were kind enough to offer me a lift to the Venue.  It was nice to meet other Runner Buddies in the Assembly area.  We had fun cheering the FM guys as they took off at 6.  I met Salaj, who arrived directly that morning 😌, and gave him his Bib.

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After a quick warm up it was time to line up at the starting point.  We took off running precisely at 6:30.  I was soon joined by Anand Kane and we ran together comfortably chatting away to glory 😀.  After the first kilometre or so we slowed down a bit, enjoying the luschious green sorroundings.

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Picking up water from the water station we moved ahead together.  At about the 4K mark a Runner actually did a cartwheel for the photographer as we looked on in amazement 😯.  Cartwheel guy was Yash from Nashik.  He ran along chatting with us for a short distance before taking off with the 2-hour Pacer 😎.

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We moved on turning right, crossing the bridge, moving upwards reaching the strategically placed trail at about 7-8k Distance.  We walked up steadily trekking all the way to the top of the hill. Just as we were reaching the top, I teased Anand “Chalo ab Dabba nikalo” 😂.  Bowing down and paying obeisance at the Gautam Rishi- Ahalya Smarak, very sweetly he gave me Rajgira wadi saying “Dabba to nahi, yehi kha lo”, as we turned to descend the steps 🤗.

The toughest part over we carefully ran down the steps.  Picking up and sharing Enerzal we moved together comfortably swapping stories of other runners and runs 😄.  It was a pleasure running on the exclusive path with the dam waters to the left and majestic mountains to the right 😎.  A little ahead, we just had to stop and click a picture with the flowering field in the background reminiscing of our respective trips to Dalhousie.

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Further ahead we were greeted by the sight of some kids drawing pictures on the ground with chalk.  Moving on we shouted out as we crossed Rahul and Gaurav at about the 13th km.

After about the 14th km, Anand slowed down to relieve his ACL injury pain and told me to move  ahead.  Running down the hill I took the last turn and headed onto the highway.  By then the sun was beating down on us strongly with absolutely no shade whatsoever in sight 😑.

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I plodded on looking around at the beautiful green hills.  Soon Anand rejoined me and I told him to enjoy the view as it was just about 3-4 kilometres to Trimbakeshwar from here.  A little way ahead, I crossed over to the other side of the road following the Runner in front of me.   Catching up with him we realised the ones in front of us had crossed to catch some shade of the Rocky patch on the opposite side.

Crossing back to the Right we chatted as we moved on.  As we got talking, I realised Gautam, from Raheja Vihar Powai, was the same guy with whom I had traveled by Cab to Azad maidan for SCMM in January along with Sachin Singh and Anupma Diddi 😀😂. Talk about a small world.  The heat had started getting to him by then.  I encouraged him saying we had just a little more distance to go as we ran along while cheering the fast FM Runners who were running back after their U-turn.

Catching sight of Shibani Gharat ahead, I picked up pace.  Cheering her on, I moved ahead finally catching up with Rajesh Mallya in the final 2-3k.  Waving to Nikhil Shah in the support vehicle I ran strong weaving my way through the numerous buses and tourists.  It was nice to cheer Sunil Lahigude as he ran in the opposite direction.

Now, I was in a mood to just finish off my Run.  Quickly I took the final right turn near the Sai Palace Hotel.  I ran on quickly in a bid to finish strong.  By then I was wondering why the Finish Line wasn’t in sight 🤔.  Just then I met Sanjay Bhingarde who told me I had just another kilometre to go.

Feeling good I ran ahead waving to Jay Mali who asked if he should pace me 😊.  Telling him I was fine I ran on finally crossing the Finish Line amongst loud cheers and applause 🤗.  I managed to finish in 2:07 standing First in the Girls Open Category.  The First Monsoon Marathon Package sure ended with a Bang.  Couldn’t have asked for a more scenic route for sure 😊.

 

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Aarey Forest Run 10k, September 2017- Dosti Unlimited

“Let’s go for our long run to Aarey this Sunday.”  Just the thought of running along with Roshni in this wonderful place would make me feel so good.   In fact the very first time I met Roshni was in a Rick as we headed to Aarey in the wee hours of the morning.  I have so many vivid memories of running in this little bit of paradise along with Roshni and the Mumbai Runner Girls Gang.  So many of us girls just connected as soon as we met and parted as old friends by the end of our Run 😊.

I was thrilled when the Mumbai Road Runners decided to organize their very first Race– a timed 10k and 5k as well as a 3k in Good old Aarey 😀.  Needless to say Salaj and I registered quickly and I pretty much started tagging everyone to join in the fun.  Later MRR even released a poster with my picture considering my overenthusiasm 😉😂.  Of course we all knew that it would be a super well organized event what with the MRR tag.

Our Bibs and t-shirts were duly collected by Neha Lodha from the Vile Parle Centre on Friday itself and we were all set for some fun running together.  Sunday morning as we waited at the Bus stop near my home, Anupma Diddi and I reminisced about the very first time we met when we went for our run along with Roshni in Aarey 😄.  Somehow felt like just another long run as we got into Sachin Gupta’s car along with Niranjan, Salaj and Bhupendra Saluja.  We sped off to the New Zealand Hostel laughing and chattering nineteen to the dozen.

It felt wonderful meeting and greeting our Runner buddies as we all gathered together at the Assembly area.  Despite the sultry weather, the spirits were high with loads of positive vibes.  Having collected and pinned on our bibs after a bit of stretching, I followed Salaj who insisted on a short Run to warm up properly.  Everyone was already assembled at the Starting point when we returned already sweating profusely.  We quickly got in place and grabbed some Fast and Up from Girish Bindra and Chitu Shetty.  A quick selfie along with Shilpa Bhansali and gang and it was time to start.

Precisely at 6:30 we were off and running out of New Zealand Hostel with a quick right and slight upward slope moving straight ahead towards the turn at the Gamdevi Mandir.  We were greeted by the wonderful volunteers at the first water station just a kilometer ahead.  Neha took off like a bullet and was running really fast downhill.  Kept telling her to slow down a bit as we still had another loop to go.  Salaj and I ran together quickly covering the distance.  We were greeted by the shouts of “Watch out for the Holes.”  Volunteer Poornima Shetty was doing a stellar job alerting all of us 😎 .

A little further ahead we were greeted by Dylan Dpenha and gang at the second water station cheering us as we ran.  One of the volunteers was practically positioned like a statue pointing us to take the right turn towards the Gamdevi Mandir.  Running steadily ahead enjoying the green fields around we went comfortably together.  It was amazing watching the Elite MRR Runners– Dnyaneshwar Morgha and gang as they ran back for the second loop.  Further ahead we cheered on our other fast runner buddies Sunil Handa, Girish Bindra, Jay Mali to name a few.

Soon we too reached the U-turn after Neha and Dhaval and headed back.  It was loads of fun shouting and cheering our Runner buddies as we moved on.  After the Second Water station when he saw Neha cruising ahead, Sachin shouted out that he wouldn’t take me home in the car if I wasn’t first 😂.  Talk about being blessed with such wonderful friends 😁.  Glaring at him I ran on to be greeted by Poornima shouting “Keep to your Left”.

Sipping water and Fast and Up as we went Salaj and I ran steadily together.  It was wonderful to see my friend Sonali Patil who was doing her very first 5k.  I shouted and cheered her as we moved to the killer uphill section.  The hot humid weather didn’t make things any easier either.  Of course we did manage to smile at Kartik Iyer as he clicked us as we ran past 😉.  Reaching the top we picked up water from Prerna and gang we ran ahead towards the U-turn for the Second loop.

Feeling strong we ran steadily up and moved on together waving to Ashok Someshwar as we went.  The sight of our Runner buddies on the other side was enough to get us shouting and cheering throughout.  A little further ahead Salaj and I crossed Neha who seemed to have been struggling for a while now.  Again, telling her to slow down and go steady we moved on.

Soon we took the final Right turn after the second water station. Thanking the two wonderful girls who cheered us at the Final U-turn we ran back.  It was good to see Neha looking strong as we saw her on the other side just a little bit behind 😊.  Dhaval was doing a good job pacing and encouraging her on.  Looking out towards the fields on the right we were rewarded by the sight of a mixed flock of white egrets and brown mynas 🤗.

Picking up water from Dylan I ran on constantly sipping and pouring it on my head.  It was wonderful to catch sight of the golden orange sun in the hazy sky and I shouted out to Beena Nair and Anupma to look out for the same as we ran our respective way 😀.  Yup, it was time for the final stretch.  Mentally gearing up Salaj and I ran forward towards the hilly area.  Immediately Christopher joined us to encourage us to run up strongly.  Just when I wanted to walk, he handed me over to Joy who makes sure I joyfully get rid of the thought 😉😀.  Last but not the least, here came Vinit who ensured I finish strong all the way up and I finally wave him away saying “I’m doing fine.”  He agreed and moved on to assist someone else.  Hats off to these three Angels- the Hill Motivators 😎.

To top it all Prerna runs along with me as I descend down.  Jokingly asking Mufaddal for a lift on his bike I ran ahead.  Getting my bearings back I manage to finish in style sprinting across the Finish Line straight into the arms of Deepa Raut and Yogesh Yadav captures the moment perfectly.  All this amongst loud cheers and applause.  Gosh it makes you feel like a star.  Thank God for such fantastic friends 🤗.  Yes, I did manage to stand First beating Neha by a whisker finishing in 57:28.  So glad to have lived up to the fabulous MRR poster 😃.

 

 

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IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon, August 2017- And the Rain God’s Laughed

After a wonderful time at the IDBI Federal Life Insurance HM last year, I was really looking forward to this year’s event. I was fortunate to be one of the Brand Ambassadors this year and we had loads of fun at the numerous Promo Runs arranged at different places by NEB Sports 😊.  Icing on the cake was the chance to meet and share the stage with Aapla Sachin Tendulkar at the Press Conference 😎.

Unfortunately things went awry, police permission was denied and at the last moment the Organizers had to shift Venue to BKC instead of the much awaited SOBO 😒.  Needless to say, there was a huge uproar with loads of positive and negative views expressed on Social Media.  Some chose to withdraw Registration as offered by the Organizers though most Runners chose to stand by them based on last year’s experience.  Organizers also decided to do their bit 🤗. They provided Buses from SOBO to Venue considering the major inconvenience to the Outstation Runners who made Travel arrangements keeping earlier SOBO Venue in mind.

After a break in the Monsoons, the Rains were back with a vengeance right before the event adding to the woes of the Organizers 😏.  D-day arrived and we friends took off together for BKC wondering about Running in loops amongst hoards of Runners in the pouring rain 😬.  We reached just in time and moved towards the Starting Line.  Meeting the 2-hours Pacer Abbas Shaikh, Salaj and I decided to try to run along with him 😁.

Race started bang on time at 5:45 though thanks to the huge cheering Runner  crowd oggling Sachin, we finally crossed the Start line at about 5:50. Salaj and I moved together making our way ahead. Soon I started weaving my way through the sea of Runners not realising that I went too fast leaving Salaj and Abbas behind 🙄.  Confident that I wasn’t too far ahead I kept on running, greeting friends as I moved on trying to find space after the first 3-4k.

I ran looking around at the tall buildings in BKC missing last year’s Heritage Route.  Around 6-7k we were greeted by the Rain.  Oh yes, it was back after a brief breather.  Just as I started feeling uneasy due to stomach cramps at around the 8k mark, I was greeted by the welcome sight of Abbas and his Bus 🤗.  Feeling better I ran along laughing with them as Abbas extolled about the wonderful weather.  I teased him about singing a song and he actually started humming 😎.

Unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with them for too long.  Slipping behind, I ran on as best as I could as Abbas kept turning and encouraging me.  Just as I turned for the second Loop, Salaj joined me with a huge smile on his face.  Boy, was I glad to see him 😊.  We ran together side by side picking up water as we went.

Shouting out, cheering and waving to the hoards of 10k Runners we moved forward.  Unfortunately we ended up skipping the Fast and Up and Bananas at the water station on the Main road and later got only water 😥.  I tried to divert my mind by chatting with Salaj and soon Ashay Warik joined us just in time for Tashi to click us together.

Still feeling uneasy I told the Duo to carry on ahead while I tried to just keep going as best as I could.  Cheering others as I went I kept running urging myself on.  The constant twists and turns throughout didn’t make it any easier though I kept seeing loads of Runners throughout.  The Distance felt Never ending and I ran on jumping across and even wading through some puddles.  It sure was pouring cats and dogs making the Run even more challenging.

Finally crossing the 18k mark I tried to regroup.  Now All I had to do was keep going till the end.  With about a Kilometre or so to go feeling confident I pushed forward.  Encouraging others as I went along I picked up my pace.  Waving to Amit Kumar and Ishaan Dutta I ran ahead.  Gosh, it was so good to see Sachin Gupta right before the final turn who told us it was just another 200m 🤗.  It felt wonderful to finish strong as I raced across the Finish Line.  Yes, I had done it. Managed to complete this HM in 2:07 😊.

After collecting our Medals, locating and gulping down much needed water we proceeded for Breakfast especially relishing the Fruit plate 😊.  It was super meeting and chatting with so many Runner friends.  Somehow managed to locate Kiddo and Hubby who ran 5k amongst the throngs of Runners 🤗.  They decided to forego Breakfast and after some quick pics together we all happily headed back home.

 

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Durshet Forest Marathon, August 2017- Sounds of Cicadas

After the wonderful time at Prabalgad and Matheran I skipped the Nio Run in Pune as planned. Felt it was a bit too soon and decided to have fun with friends at the final IDBI Federal Promo Run at Thane instead 😊. Now it was time to gear up for the Durshet HM. Had already heard it was another tough though beautiful route and looked forward to enjoying the serene scenic beauty.

My family decided to join me yet again with the Father-Daughter Duo registering for the 5k. We set off on Saturday itself and reached the Durshet Forest Lodge for Bib Collection. It was nice to see Dolly Dsouza and Ganesh Bhagwat as they arrived at the same time. Salaj, Pradeep and Shalini were gonna come down directly on Sunday morning.

Bibs duly collected, after snacking on Bhel and Chai we took off for Hotel Cafe Sagar in Khopoli about half hour from the Venue. The next morning we arrived just in time for me to get off and locate my friends while Hubby and Kiddo found parking and came in later. Within minutes it was time for flag off as we all assembled at the Starting Line for the quintessential Selfie. At precisely 7 we were off whooping and waving as we ran together down the slope out of the gates 😀.

After the first kilometre on the road, we took a right turn and ran inside towards the village making our way forward. It was really humid with absolutely no signs of Rain and we started picking up water from the beginning itself. In fact Salaj was a bit disheartened when he got Frooti at the Water Station at the 3rd Kilometer. Running comfortably ahead chitchatting, waving and smiling I teased Salaj as he posed for the Flying Drone J. Thrilled at the sight of Enerzal at the 4th Kilometer we literally grabbed it along with water 😌.

A little further along we passed by the River where some women were washing clothes. Soon enough we crossed the 10k U-turn and moved forward crossing the bridge shouting out and cheering the fast runners running back after our first U-turn. Energized we moved together climbing up the Rocky uphill portion as we quickly turned back to descend strongly. I moved a bit ahead running along with Rajesh Mallya from Malad. He told me he had just done the Bangalore FM the previous weekend and was taking it easy today. The only reason he was running slowly along with me 😛.

He decided to slow down further after a bit and I moved ahead hoping for Salaj to catch up soon. I was enjoying the lush green surroundings despite the sultry weather with absolutely no signs of rain. It was fun running to the rhythm of the musical Cicadas in the Forest 😊. I kept looking out towards the Cloud covered Forest ahead as I ran past catching a glimpse of the cascading waterfalls in the hills. Making my way carefully through the slushy patch ahead I ran on waving at the Physios and high fiving Kiran Chaturvedi as I went.

Drinking and pouring water on my head I ran forward cheering and shouting out as Speedsters Manoj Rane, Amit Yadav, Amit Kumar et all passed by. Further ahead met Sayuri Dalvi who told me it was just 500m for the U-turn. Grinning and cheering her I moved on meeting Sunil Lahigude as he descended down. Walking a bit on the steep climb I picked up water again as I ran down after the final U-turn. Spotting Salaj I shouted at him to come quickly to join me.

I moved on running cheerfully spotting a walking Paddy going up the Incline. Further on near the Slushy patch encouraging other Runners I made my way back. Spotting Kiran I jokingly told her to join me and later shouted in full filmy style “Mujhe chodke mat jaao” as she passed by in the Support Vehicle 😝.

Further ahead as I ran through the Village was greeted by Loud Applause as a group of small kids cheered for us 😃. Crossing the 10k turnabout Sign I ran past the river waving to toddlers sitting near the Well. Feeling strong I ran ahead grinning at the sight of a Runner Mom glaring and telling some Runner kids and adults to get out of the water and head back. Overtaking a few runners I ran further smiling at the photographers and thanking the volunteers as I went.

Soon enough I reached the final 250m before I hit the road. With just another kilometre or so to go I felt charged passing some more runners and volunteers manning the Traffic. Quickly I turned inside the gates of Durshet Forest Lodge running up the final ascent just in time to join my daughter posing along with a bunch of Elite Runners as Hubby Dearest clicked us 🤗.

Though she didn’t enjoy this Route as much as Matheran and wasn’t in a mood to run Kiddo had stood Third in kids and unexpectedly won a Plaque stating “I’m a fast runner too.” 😎. So proud of her. I managed to finish in 2:09:49 and stood Second in Girls Open Category. Already looking forward to more masti at Stone Ridge Valley at Nashik.

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Matheran Endurathon 25k, July 2017- Family Run-cation

Once I started running at more and more events from 2015 the idea of Runcation came to mind. After all what could be better than enjoying a holiday with Family and Friends with a Run thrown in to boot 😃. Somehow due to all our busy schedules this was not possible though we did manage to club our Family vacation up in the North East with the Kalimpong Run in May 2016.

This year Salaj and I signed up for the Runbuddies Monsoon Marathon Package with something similar in mind. We decided to have fun along with our families at Matheran. We were especially all gung-ho after our wonderful experience at Prabalgad in June.

Unfortunately, I was down with slight fever and severe chest congestion just a couple of days prior to the event. Immediately started on all possible remedies and rested as much as possible deciding to take a call regarding going to Matheran closer to the weekend. I was particularly feeling the pressure since Hubby and Kiddo had also registered for the 5k 😯. Luckily though still feeling weak, I was in Recovery Mode from Thursday.

The weekend arrived and post lunch we took off for Matheran by Cab. Getting off at Dasturi Car Parking we ventured inside heading towards Ashok Hotel for Bib Collection. By now, I was wondering what had prompted me to sign up for this 😑. It was tough enough walking leave alone running the next day. Based on the training involved and our respective Family Vacation plans we had registered for 25k instead of the 50k that we had been contemplating earlier. Thank God, better sense prevailed 😌. In fact, I would have happily switched to the 10k.

Finally we reached Ashok Hotel. Somehow it seemed like we had been walking pretty much forever. It was good to see so many familiar faces and meet Runner Friends chattering away to glory. Spirits revived after collecting our Bibs and some much needed hot tea, we trudged off to Hotel WestEnd to meet Pradeep, Salaj and family. Settling in we friends hung out and relaxed together watching the kids play together. After a quick dinner we turned in for the night deciding to leave for the Venue at 6am.

Sunday morning we all gathered at the Venue. We had fun meeting and greeting everyone followed by some quick photographs after all who knew how the After pictures were gonna be 😂. After the announcements particularly warning us about the overzealous Monkeys that were prone to snatching stuff from our hands and Zumba session, we moved towards the starting line-up.   Precisely at 7 we were off down the steep decline, making our way over the jagged slippery stones. Salaj and I ran together with the only goal of returning back in one piece 😀. Running and walking we moved together on the trail joking that we better be extra careful as no one would be coming to pick us up.

Soon enough, we reached the clearing at Sunset Point. After a quick hydration break we ran onwards looking down at the cloud filled valley even spotting a waterfall or two. We ran along comfortably making our way carefully through the slushy mud, jumping over jagged stones and broken branches as we went. Walking wherever required we maneuvered our way forward crossing Echo point and finally reaching the serene Charlotte Lake 🤗.

Shouting and waving to Nikhil Shah we ran across the bridge crossing the 10k U-turn wishing we had opted for it. Admiring the Beautiful Sorroundings we ran forward reaching a huge puddle around the 6-7k mark. Gingerly walking by the side we proceeded ahead waving to Arvind Bijwe as we went along. It was good to see the 50k Runners making their way back on the opposite side. Spirits boosted we ran Cheering, Hi-fiving and Shouting out to each other. Further ahead at the 10k mark we were greeted by loud cheering and clapping by the volunteers 😃.

Proceeding to the Turn Around at Paymaster Park via Adamo Resort we joked about simply taking off to our Hotel round the Corner 😉. Cheering the speedy Runners on the opposite side we reached the U-turn and gained momentum as we ran down the slopes. Now it was just matter of putting one foot after another and tracing our steps back to the Finish. We kept moving from one water station to the next drinking and pouring water on our heads. Conserving our energy by walking on the uphill slopes had helped in a big way and we ran back comfortably. Salaj kept complaining about the jagged stones on the downhill sections which restrained our momentum though. Poor fellow had already stumbled a couple of times in his Sandals.

Cruising by the Charlotte Lake after crossing the earlier humongous puddle and we were almost home free. Overhearing some shopkeeper shouting about Fresh Bhajiya jokingly I asked Salaj if he wanted to stop and have some with Chai 😉. Just then while having Lime juice, glucose biscuits and peanuts at a Water Station, we caught sight of Sanjay and Abhijit inside a shop ahead 😁. Running ahead passing by a few runners and we made our way through the walking tourists. Taking a last glimpse at the breath-taking scenery and bidding adieu to the verdant valley below, we reached the final Sunset Point.

Refreshed after another quick water break we ran-walked the last vicious patch through the forest. Sipping some Kokam at the last Water Station I ran ahead to catch up with Salaj as we proceeded towards the Finish Line. Someone cheered “Just another 50m to go” but what a 50m it was 🙄. Striding ahead quickly I reached the clearing and dashed across in a final speedy burst to finish strong amidst loud cheers and claps by Family and Friends 😊.

Boy, was I happy to see their glowing cheerful faces. They had a brilliant time at the 5k. Thankfully it hadn’t rained at all throughout saving us from an even more slippery challenging terrain. Turns out Kiddo had run throughout finishing first 😎. As for me, I managed to finish in an unexpected 2:54:11 getting First Rank in Girls Open Category. Guess, all the Consistent Training paid off 😊. Best part though was when the next morning my sleepy-eyed Kiddo asks me when she could do her First timed 10k.

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First Monsoon Marathon Prabalgad, June 2017- Singing Naaaa Running in the Rain

Enticed by the positive feedback and glowing inputs from some Runner Friends, Salaj and I decided to do the RunBuddies Monsoon Package this year. After discussing we registered for the entire package of 5 Running Events spread over 4 months from June-September. Training continued in the Summer months with bit of diversion during our vacation trips here and there. We were going to enjoy these Races at the different scenic locations thoroughly with no time targets as such 😊.

After a short dry spell, the Monsoon arrived in all its glory just a day or two before Race Day. Pouring throughout the previous night it continued that morning. As Salaj said as we drove, “Raining not only Cats and Dogs but Cows and Buffaloes too” 😁. Leaving at around 4 we drove to the Venue- Atasa Resort, Nere reaching way before time by 5:15. For some reason we thought Race would begin 6.

Initially there were only a few of us Runners sitting around chit-chatting. It was nice to meet Hiral Thanawala, Jane Dsouza and Michael who had come by the Organizers Bus from Mumbai. Poor fellows had left from Borivali at 2 to catch the 3 am Bus from Dadar TT. We had a hearty laugh about us funny Runners- We want it to Rain during the Run but not at the beginning in the Holding Area. Oh yes, we don’t want it to pour to hard, a slight drizzle pretty much throughout is nice though 😉. Talk about being oh so undemanding and running anytime anywhere 😂.

Soon enough Runners started poured inside after the initial trickle. It was good to see so many familiar faces from Pune and Mumbai. Meeting and Greeting each other we all moved towards the Holding Area near the Swimming Pool with the Mountains in the Backdrop. Oh my, it was beautiful. Luckily the Rain Gods obliged and it stopped Raining as we all got ready to run.

After the short Zumba Session, Announcements and singing the National Anthem we moved towards the Starting Line Up. At 6:45 we were off and running making our way ahead through the Resort on to the Roads ahead. It was more or less straight 10.5k and back. After about 1k, I was surprised to see Purnendu Nath moving ahead from behind me since he had been way ahead along with the other speedsters. Just then Amit Yadav came from behind and told me they had taken a wrong turn L. Disadvantage of being over-speedy I guess 😅.

It had started to rain again. I ran on enjoying the drizzle, looking around at the lush green surroundings. Admiring the numerous Snake Gourds (Padwal) hanging from their creepers in the nearby fields I moved on. Just ahead I came across the carcasses of a snake and some frogs, probably run over by vehicles in the dark. Reality intrudes even in the midst of Joyous Nature doesn’t it 😔?

Cruising comfortably I moved on drinking water and Enerzal from the strategically placed Hydration Stations every 2k. The Route was fabulous rolling up and down every now and then as we ran towards majestic Prabalgad. I moved ahead enjoying the weather and scenery, bowing my head in gratitude at the Gamdevi Temple on the way.

At about the 8k mark I met Kamlesh Shrikhande from Pune. He said his shoes were getting heavier thanks to the Rain and Puddles. Told him to just look around and he’d forget everything else 😃. I was happy to run together chatting away. It was good to meet another FB friend, Gagan Khatri from Ulhasnagar as we moved further.

Just then we spotted Amit Yadav on the opposite side and we were thrilled as we knew the U-turn was close by. Puru told us it was 750m and just ahead Sunil Lahigude told us 300m for us to the turn as he ran past. Now my favourite part had begun. Yup, had a splendid time cheering and shouting out to other runners as I ran back.

Kamlesh and I moved ahead back and forth and chatted whenever we ran together. Turned out we had quite a bit in common. From running at more or less the same pace, we both ran for Breakfast and had even been Flamingo watching at Airoli and Bhigwan respectively 😊.

I moved on enjoying the greenery around, listening to the Ribbit Ribbit of the frogs, Pitter Patter of the rain and distant clap of thunderclouds. Thanking the volunteers as I went ahead, bidding adieu to the Snake Gourd Fields I entered Nere Village.

With about 2k or so to go, I cheered Jane who was doing 15k as I moved ahead. Upping the Ante I ran on crossing Kamlesh encouraging him to push in the last bit. I ran splashing through the puddles and almost wading through some deep ones as I moved cautiously when I almost twisted my foot 😑.

Finally entering the Resort, I was greeted by the sight of a Police van passing by with the cops cheering us on. Just ahead Sunil Lahigude urged me to pick up pace and I promptly complied. It felt wonderful to cross the Finish Line amidst loud cheers and applause. I had finished First in Girls Open Category in 2:03:47 😊. We friends had a total blast clicking pictures, monkeying around, dancing and swimming in the pool 😎. Oh Yes, the First Monsoon Marathon totally lived up to its name.

 

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IDBI Federal Life Insurance Stadium Run, June 2017- Round and Round we Go

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After a family vacation up North- seeking blessings at the Golden Temple, witnessing the presence of his Holiness the Dalai Lama himself at his discourse at Dharamshala and bidding Adieu to the Majestic Himalayas at Dalhousie; it was time to head back to Amchi Mumbai just in time for the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Stadium Run Relay at the Mumbai University Grounds.

D-day arrived sooner than we knew it.  Our motley group comprising of Comrade Sandip Dhuri, Shantesh Kaushik, Pradeep Rajalingappa, Sandeep Gupta, Anjali Tiwari and I were all set for some fun and frolic that Saturday evening 😊.

I was gonna run in the 7-9 pm slot after Shantesh. Setting off around 5 with Hubby and Kiddo in tow we reached Marine Lines around 6 by Cab. Unfortunately, despite the Google Maps location, we were unable to find the Venue 😨.  None of the people around seemed to know either and we kept going around in Circles. Frantically I called Capt Dhuri who told us it was right next to Wankhede Stadium. Getting off, I enquired with the Security who told me it was on the other side. I quickly walked towards the Entrance getting hassled by the minute 😑.

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Finally I entered the Ground, all sweaty and overwhelmed, just after Vijay Kamath called asking me where I was. Rushing in with hardly 15 minutes to spare I ran along with Shantesh who told me to collect the Bibs from his bag in the Baggage counter. Greeting some friends I ran to the Baggage Counter.  Quickly I managed to find the Bibs frantically trying to pin mine on. Luckily Seema Rajesh helped me out 😇. Thank God for super friends.  Feeling bit calmer I moved towards the Starting Line.  I felt slightly better when Renata mentioned she had faced the same issue regarding location 😀.

We started our run almost immediately, just as the 5-7pm slot Runners finished.  Getting my bearings, I moved ahead greeting friends running along with me.  Cheering the 12 and 24-hour Ultra Runners I moved ahead.  It felt good to see everyone after so long 🤗.  After a few loops of the 400m track, I found my rhythm and ran comfortably. Waving to friends, grinning away to glory, teasing, cheering and shouting out to each other we were having a blast 😁.

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Round and round we kept going.  The Sun had set and halogen lights shone brightly on one side of the track.  After about 7k I started drinking and pouring water on my head.  Alternating with Fast and Up was a must what with the high Humidity level.  It felt wonderful whenever a cool breeze blew.

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Seeing my team mate Anjali, I shouted out telling her to take the Bibs from my Orange bag at the Baggage Counter.  Capt Dhuri also turned up straight from Office to support and cheer us 😀.  Between them they managed to locate the Bibs.

Soon, the first hour was almost done.  I had managed to run about 10k+ as planned.  A loud crashing noise behind us caused Joison and me to turn to watch a big branch snap and fall.  Joking that the Organizers were making sure we ran faster, we grinned and continued ahead.

In the second half, I counted the loops more diligently taking hydration breaks every 5 loops to help keep track.   The moon and sky looked gorgeous.  Checking out the trains every now and then, I would gauge which ones I would be able to catch or miss 😂.  Smiling at our wonderful photographer friends Amol, Tashi, Rahul, Gaurav and gang I ran on teasing Gaurav that he must be fed up of seeing and clicking me 😀.

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We carried on with other Runner friends cheering and encouraging us all the way.  I kept asking them to run along but nobody obliged 😉.  Hubby and Daughter dearest were back from Marine Drive cheering me on to the Finish 😎.  They were counting down the minutes along with us.  It was fun to run a short distance with her right alongside me 😄.

It was getting tougher and I was really looking forward to finishing.  24-hour Runners Sanjay Bhingarde and Abhishek Sharan pulled my leg about my diminishing pace 😂.  Poor fellows had several more hours to go 😏.

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With about 10 minutes or so left, Jayraman encouraged me to do 2 more loops.  Running further, Sunil Handa prompted me for another Loop too.  Nodding Yes, I pushed myself to run faster and finished Strong.  Boy, was I glad to stop 😅.  Happy to have achieved bit more than my schedule target of 18k.

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With Captain Dhuri leading from  the front, Our team- Powai Runners managed to run 286 laps covering a Distance of 125.8k standing a joint 11th in the Team Relay- Slot A Group.  Not bad at all for a bunch of us Fun Runners.  Cheers to Friendship 🤗.

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