Most of us in our running group, Run Amrit Shakti, had registered for the Satara Hill Marathon about 4-5 months back when they had opened the registrations. And had vowed to practise sincerely for it. For, Satara’s Half is not an easy one. Why! They call it the ‘Ultra’ Half Marathon! For, although 21.1 kms, there is a 413 meter ascent that needs to be conquered. So you start at 678m above sea-level, go through 4kms of the Satara town, and then start climbing the Satara hills till about 1059m above the sea level! A bad one…unattainable without protracted training..
The veterans amongst us had given us our dose of hill-run practise for the last 6 weeks in the run up to the D-day. We actually had a traning module drawn up for 2 and a half months, but the July rains in Mumbai, got the better of us. We almost didn’t run all of July!!! And when August dawned, we woke up from our collective slumber, petrified at the impending deadline, and vowed to slog it out ‘come sun, come rain’. Being a Powai-based group, hills were relatively easy to get – we’d run up to the Hiranandani Gardens and train in the steep slopes of one of the hills there. This saw us in good stead. And, one of the chief reasons why the 15 amongst us notched up 244 kms together in Satara yesterday.
Why go to Satara for a 21 km Marathon? For a couple of reasons.
- One, it is such a picturesque run. Just 4 kms and you are out of the town limits, into the hills, breathing in the freshest of air, watching the sun rise from behind the distant hills, green hills on one side and a greener valley on the other, dotted with lakes and ponds; beautiful birds. The rains haven’t left yet, and so you get to see a whole lot of white clouds play with the sun and the blue sky; sometimes dark ones threatening to get the better of the sun. Beyond the 7km mark, you enter the famed Satara plateau and can see a whole lot of beautiful wild flowers too.
- Plus, I found Satara Hill Marathon to be extremely well organised! There were water stations every 2-3 kilometers, where they gave us biscuits, energy drinks, water, fruit juices. At the turn at 10.5 kilometer, there were bananas and oranges too. And guess what? The water stations didn’t run out of provisions until the end of the run! There were volunteers in bikes offering medical help such as pain-sprays throughout the way. Pacers of 2 hours, 2 and half hours, and 3 hours guided the runners. In my case, the 3-hr pacer guided me until the last 50 m and helped me make it in 2.57 hours! An SMS reached us in 6 hours of the run completion with our exact timing. And by today, we can also see our official finish line photos. Wow! The organisers are pretty serious about what they are doing.
Bib and Kit collection was easy too, and they were more than willing to change my T-Shirt when i found mine to be 2 sizes bigger. Was told about a gala carbo dinner too, but we couldn’t make it, since we were staying at Vivant, somewhat far away. Plus it rained on Saturday night and we, Mumbaikars, were shivering in our skin.
A number of people in India have become fitness freaks and are always on the lookout for beautiful and well organised runs. Satara Hill Marathon is one such. Take my word for it. And register in 2015!