I was born into a farming family in the Dhule district of Maharashtra and through my childhood and youth, I wasn’t involved with any major sport, except for the only consistent outdoor activity in life which was walking barefoot for long distances. My tryst with running started more than ten years ago in 2006 when I was in Mumbai for work and noticed an advertisement for a half marathon, that I then completed in under 3 hours. I did the same race twice the following years and managed good time in it as well, till I graduated to the full marathon in 2009 apart from participating in various other races in the country.
I simply loved every moment on that trail. Some 9.5 km from the start, by some stroke of luck I found myself all alone on a small hillock after having carefully crossed a slippery stretch of the trail. Here, it was like the clouds had come down to embrace me. It felt like I had reached heaven. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the place that I cried copiously- tears of joy and thanked my good fortune for being healthy and hearty to be there at that moment of time. It was pure bliss!
The Great Himalayan Running Festival was truly a journey of a lifetime – running 14 km every day for 5 days, through some of the highest mountain passes in the world along the Manali – Leh highway.
The downhill was really fun. The soil was so dry and full of tiny marble sort of stones, really slippery. I had to run carefully. I did scare some of the hikers who thought I would slip and fall and probably take them along rolling down the mountain. A couple of sections were so exposed and steep, it was beautiful and thrilling at the same time. I am sure it demanded courage and skills to navigate that section and have some decent speed as well.