I had heard a lot about the scenic but tough Satara Half Marathon last year. There was lot of coverage especially due to the successful Guinness World Record Attempt. It is called an Ultra Half Marathon considered tough even by Comrades Finishers (89k race in South Africa which is considered one of the toughest race). Having heard from lot of friends I was hoping to participate in the SHHM this year obviously after training well.
Registration was done after stay was finalized at Sunil Lahigude’s house in Satara since stay arrangements is a major bone of contention at this time. Sooner than we knew it D-day arrived. Anupma and I set off along with Salaj and his family. The weather was superb and we had fun chatting and joking enjoying the journey thoroughly. After a quick stopover outside Satara for lunch we arrived at the Expo Venue at 5 in the evening.
We were greeted by heavy rain and a long line up of cars. Quickly, we proceeded inside, almost immediately meeting several friends at the Expo. Looked like pretty much everyone from Mumbai and Pune had descended to Satara 😁. Meeting and greeting everyone we collected our bibs and goody bags. Prerna Parwarni had collected my prize for the Beti koi bojh nahi contest 😊. We were all like kids on a picnic giggling and chatting away excitedly 🤗😃.
Finally we proceeded along with Sunil and Smita Lahigude to his brother’s home. Luckily, it was just a kilometre or so from the Starting Point at Police Parade Ground. After a yummy dinner of vegetable khichadi amongst more conversation and peals of laughter we stepped out for a short walk invariably meeting Aatul Sangamnerkar and his Strider Group friends. Heading back home we set out everything for the race and quickly went to bed.
Sunday morning arose cloudy with slight rain. Grabbing a quick peanut butter sandwich and enerzal, we warmed up and walked down to the Venue. Meeting loads of other friends we proceeded to the Holding Area. This year the Runner Group Striders were called to do the honours to light the Lamp after which we were told to proceed to the Starting Line Up. Having heard a lot about the entire route from friends and especially having read Coach Norrie’s detailed description we had decided to proceed uphill with caution with no real time targets.
The race started bang on at 6 am. The very first kilometre was an uphill stretch. Salaj and I ran together slowly moving forward. After a bit the road evened out a bit before the really steep climb up the hill from 4k to 7k mark. We stuck to plan running along taking baby steps and walking intermittently. I kept asking Salaj if we should walk 😉 but with his strides I had to run along just to keep up 😄. I kept looking around enjoying the sight of the lush green hill to my left and the beautiful city in the valley to my right. A little ahead we met Hill Motivator Prasad Patil who ran along chatting and laughing with us. Just then we spotted some monkeys sitting opposite the small waterfall at the 7k mark. They were probably wondering what so many colourful monkeys were doing running up their hill 😉.
Moving on Salaj commented that the toughest part was done. I was feeling fantastic thanks to the awesome weather. Luckily it was cool and cloudy and oh so pleasurable to run 😊. At the 8-9k mark we started seeing the Elites and speedy runners running downhill. Jokingly I told Salaj, “See we are just 2k behind the Elites” 😂. That’s when the real fun started. Moving on we shouted out and cheered our speedster friends as they descended. Soon enough it was our turn to take the U-turn at the Half-way mark.
Coming down I told Salaj, “Look at the View”. Just then I had Sanjay Bhingarde yell at me telling me to run down 😅. I ran off waving to him and had a blast cheering other runner friends coming up. It felt fantastic running down though I made sure I ran cautiously taking short strides to avoid injury. Running along I met Pune runner Mani who chatted a bit and took off ahead. I ran along effortlessly thanks to the constant support and cheering of the volunteers. This time I saw the monkeys drinking from the ORS juice packs near the waterfall 😥.
Soon enough we descended back into the city greeted by the awesome Satarkars out in full force to cheer us runners. I had run pretty much throughout grinning away to glory admiring the beautiful Kaarvi Flowers; that bloom only once in 8 years, the lush greenery, the magnificent sight of sunrays breaking through the dark clouds thoroughly enjoying myself 🤗😊.
In fact in the last few kilometres, my left shoelace came off but I didn’t bother stopping as luckily it was short enough not to trip me, unlike my earlier BNP Run when every little thing felt troublesome. I had taken Salaj’s words of not stopping in the last 4k to heart 😁. Bolstered further by the constant peppy music and the Dhol-Tashas I ran on practically dancing along 😃.
In the last stretch I pushed further and ran speedily into the ground all smiles as I crossed the Finish Line. It had been one highly enjoyable race. To top it all I managed to finish in 2:10:14 standing 6th in my Age Category 😊. The Gods had been kind. Yes, that day the Hills were definitely Alive….