September 23, 2012

Marathon Mania : KTM 2012

Kaveri Trail Marathon or KTM is self proclaimed as the toughest trail marathon in the country by the organizers, as put up in their website. Being a bit of a pessimist in my general outlook I suppose it can be termed as one of the toughest trail marathon in the country. Toughest or otherwise this did push me to the wall. Running under a relentless sun with very limited tree cover , in a uneven stone filled trail , my calf muscles were crying with pain within no time. I have a goal of completing at-least one full marathon this year and had been training for it on/off over the past couple of months. I even had a crazy idea of competing in the full marathon category of KTM 2012 , but having never competed in a category other than 10k I was a bit apprehensive (thankfully my pessimist outlook came to the rescue !!!!!! :P) of directly jumping to 42.2k. Hence decided to go with an intermediate goal of completing at least one half marathon before I graduate to the next level.

Harsha, Reddy, Prasad and Suresh
KTM is usually organized in the vicinity of Ranganthittu Bird Santuary, and this year too there was no exception to that. Since the run starts very early in the morning (HM @ 6.45am), people from Blore either have a choice of leaving Blore at around 2.30-3 am to reach the venue or stay overnight at Srirangapatna to have a more relaxed sleep. Initially Harish and I had decided for a bike ride to the venue on the race day itself, but by the turn of events I got registered and Harish did not. Then started my search for some company and this ended when I came to know Harsha and his friends (Reddy, Prasad, Suresh) were planning to travel the previous day and had a free seat in their car. Hence I jumped in at this opportunity. We left Blore in the evening and had planned a different route to reach Srirangapatna since there was a bandh call in Mandya town. But seeing the traffic density moving towards Mandya we decided to try our luck , since there was very less chances of Bandh continueing after sunset, and so was the case. Reached Srirangapatnam and booked a room near to the venue. The rooms were just ok , but these guys were enjoying a sudden peak season thanks to the marathon. More or less all the rooms here and elsewhere too were booked by KTM participants :P.


The run started exactly at 6.45 am. Weather at this time was pleasant. The trail runs along a cauvery river canal and its pretty much a run along a kuchha , stone filled path. This path has very few trees providing the very crucial shade for a runner. The total length of the trail is 10.55kms , that meant HM participants had to run along this path and return on the same to complete 21.1 kms. FM participants had to complete 2 rounds of the path to complete their quota of 42.2 km. There were aid stations loaded with water, electrol, salted groundnuts, bananas, salted potato chips etc roughly every 2 kms. The initial run was slow trying to overtake a lot of slower runners in a narrow trail, but somehow overtaking others gives a big motivational boost. Thanks to the uneven surface the calf muscle started to pain within the first km. Ran more or less nonstop for the first leg of the 10.55km, which was accompanied by pleasant weather. The entire path is very picture-some with it running along a canal and surrounded by water filled green paddy fields, but the shade along the trail is negligible exposing the runners to direct sun. The elevation profile change is also minimal for the entire trail.

The return journey was where the actual struggle started. The sun was up in the sky , bright and shining and with no protection the stamina started to deplete rapidly. I could run continuously till I reached the 15km mark and after that it was a combination of running and fast walking for the next 6 kilometers. Hence took almost 1 hr 16 min to cover the second half of the journey as against 1 hr 2 min for the first half. On the other hand it was fun, where runners themselves try to motivate other runners they come face to face with in the absence of any cheering crowd. Was more or less exhausted until I saw the finish line , when all of sudden I was motivated to sprint the final 100m to have raised arm photo finish (dont know whether this was captured by any volunteer photographers). Legs became stiff just 5 mins after the run. Had to stretch like crazy for every 5 mins in order to avoid the stiffness. Relaxed a bit in a nearby canal dipping my aching feet as I waited for the rest of the gang to complete the race.

With Finishers Medal
Hence in this way completed the "toughest" trail half marathon in the country. The calf muscles were paining for the rest of the day , apart from that didnt have any post race problems. This gave me confidence to graduate to next level. Aiming right now for Bangalore Midnight Marathon in December. What is my motivation to run???, becoz now I can and later on I might not :P. Need to loose a couple of kg's and get more running mileage in the next 3 months in order to complete within my target time of 4hrs. Full marathon , here I come :).


Bib Number: 21426
Rank: 224/675
Gender: Male
Category : Open
Category Rank: 185/498
Split@10.55Km: 01:02:28
Net Time: 02:18:16

Cardiotrainer Stats

September 9, 2012

Dudhsagar TreK, With Goa Under Monsoon Onslaught !!!!!

"With a puny torch to fight against the ever-conquering darkness surrounding us, we traverse the pitch black railway tunnel no.7. With alert ears to hear any trains approaching the tunnel so that we don't become a mongrel killed and splattered by the behemoth train, having endured one such hair raising experience a couple of hrs back in a tunnel similar to this. The ears are the only functional navigational system in these tunnels , but the strong howling winds blowing through the tunnels is not making matters better. The feet is aching beyond limits thanks to walking 14 kms on those loose stones covering the railway track. We had just crossed the Dudhsagar Railway station and supposedly are very close to the elusive Dudhsagar falls. The eerie sound of the howling wind is broken every now and then by water seeping through the tunnel roof and  falling on our already rain drenched body. We still push on with our body because we know the end is near. The tunnel ends and within a couple of moments later we hear a mighty roar. Is that a train ????!!!! Not sure about it we approach it cautiously. And BEHOLD !!!!!!, we get the first view of the majestic Dudhsagar Falls flowing in its full glory. Being the 5th tallest falls in India, falling from the height of 310 mts (taller than Jog falls), this was not one of those to be taken lightly. As we approach near the falls ,the might of the falls is displayed in the separate ecosystem it has created in its immediate surroundings which included constant mist and rain. We stand in the middle of railway bridge built during the British era and get splattered by the rain drops within no time. Awestruck we cant keep our eyes off the fantabulous DUDHSAGAR" . This is how the highlight of the monsoon trip to Goa can be described in one breath.

Blore to Londa - Rani Chennamma Exp

Boohoo, back to school in such weather :'(

With my quarter break and PPR's last week in India we had plans of going for one last trip, so that Ppr's journey in India would end with a bang , and what better than a trip to Goa. But the season was wrong according to conservatives, citing the monsoons resulting in comparatively lesser crowd. But we were not one of those to be deterred and planned a monsoon trek to Dudhsagar Falls along with the trip. Planning started some time before and at one time we were having close to 14-15 individuals interested to come, but we cited  logistic problems and turned down a lot of them. In the end after a lot of additions and deletions we had 11 guys (Naga,PPR, Praveen, Harsha, Vikas, Sandeep, Manju, Umesh, Ranjan, Ravi and Myself). This was 3rd trip to Goa, but my first in monsoons which was a totally different experience.

@Castlerock: The starting point of the trek

The day of departure on Aug 31 arrived and even here in B'lore it was raining cats and dogs. Had a close call , almost missing the train (Rani Chenamma Express) after somehow making it just in time to catch it. The overnight journey was event-less and we landed in the Londa junction at around 7.30 am the next day. We had 1 hr before the Chennai-Vasco would arrive and take us to Castlerock, the starting point of the trek. Had our breakfast and by this time Ppr was feeling feverish and he decided to take a train directly to Dudhsagar falls from Londa in the same train and get down at Dudhsagar falls. Ravi decided to accompany Ppr and the remaining 9 of us decided to trek the 14 kms to the falls. By this time it had started to rain and this continued relentlessly for the entire duration of the trek, sans some breaks in between. Boarded the train to Castlerock which was late by around an hour and after a 1 hr journey we landed in Castlerock station. The Castlerock station was buzzing with trekkers all prepared to go to the Dudhsagar falls either by walk or a taking a ride till the Dudhsagar Station. Hence started our trek along the railway track. As expected the color green was the most dominant color one could see in any direction one looked at. There are a total of 7 train tunnels(of considerable length) to be covered before one gets to reach the falls. It was raining at regular intervals. One common question I came across were "Wasn't there shit on the track ????" considering the Indian railways is worlds largest open toilet .....and the answer to that is "Yup they were ... but too few and too far for anyone to gross out".

Entering Goa

Soon enough the route was engulfed in mist and we encountered the first train on the track. It was a magical experience with the headlamps of the train piercing through the mist filled surrounding as if a fire demon breathing fire. Soon enough our first tunnel came into view. This was around 200 m long and we had fun traversing through it. Then came the second, which was the longest at around 450m and almost halfway through the tunnel , heard a trains horn and then it dawned on me that I was cornered by this fire demon in the dark, wet and dirty dungeon. I was alone at the moment with Harsha and Manju almost 100 m behind me. Directly went to the wall of the tunnel, checked the ground for any slithering reptiles and then held my body against the wall. Slowly the train entered the tunnel, lights blazing and with the shrill horn. Initially I was nervous since I couldn't make out whether I had sufficient gap, bcoz of the fact that I couldn't see outline of the train in the darkness thanks to all the glare from the trains headlight. Soon enough the train passed me with almost 50-60cm between me and the train, and the vibration and the sound inside the tunnel was amplified to such a magnitude that you start fearing for your life. Almost halfway when this long goods train passed me I could see light entering the end of the tunnel, but suddenly I couldn't see it no more. "F**K !!!!! F**K !!!!! F**K !!!!!", I swore, instantly assuming that whatever was entering the tunnel was too big and I would be hit surely by this extra large load. Panicking, I waited for the inevitable, but soon enough the end came which was nothing but the huge black smoke generated by the rear engines :P which in-turn had blocked the light. Thoroughly blackened up by this smoke and shaken up I exited the tunnel :).

  {Me Cornered by the train in a tunnel}

At 7 km mark from Castlerock is the Caranzol station. From here its another 7 kms to Dudhsagar falls. We encountered a lot of mini falls and had some great views of the Braganza ghats. Soon enough reached the Dudhsagar station , which had some eatables on sale provided by some clever entrepreneur cashing on the sudden surge of trekkers to this place. At this point a tunnel separates the falls and the station. Soon enough we were in-front of the majestic waterfalls. By this time PPR and Ravi had stopped at the falls for 1.5 hrs and had left for Kulem in a goods train. Me and Harsha decided to hike further almost a km towards Kulem to get full view of the falls and so did we. The weather now was clear and the view was AWESOME.

[Dudhsagar Falls - Up Close and Personal]

Hole in the tunnel :P

Zoom to the railway bridge over the Dudhsagar falls

Spent some time in here and it was time to return back. Initial plan was to hitch a ride till Kulem in some goods/passenger train, but when we reached the station the Railway Police were not allowing trekkers on goods trains citing security and there was just one train on that day which was moving back to Castlerock. Having no option we waited for that train. Since Dudhsagar is not an official passenger stop for trains, there are no tickets issued. After waiting impatiently for an hour and half the train finally arrived. The train approached with great speed and we assumed that this is not gonna stop in here, but finally thanks to our luck the train did stopped. Else there is no other means of getting to this place other than on foot. And nearly 50-60 trekkers jumped on the train and non of them had any tickets :P. Traveled ticket-less till Londa junction which was an adventure in itself since this being the first time :).

[Full view of the falls]
Fire Demon Approaching :)
Reached Londa, took a cab to Mullem and from here booked another taxi to take us all the way to our booked accommodation near Baga beach. Ppr and Ravi had already reached the place. We reached Baga beach area at around midnight and were surprisingly caught up in a traffic jam , thanks to the proximity of the Tito's disco nearby. Got to see some gorgeous girls (Indian, not much foreigners in this season) in some jaw dropping outfits going towards the disco. We on the other hand were not interested to pay huge bucks to get a stag entry into Tito's. Reached our accommodation "Villa Emmanuel", which is right beside the Baga beach. Retired soon enough for the day since we were tired to the core.

Totally Deserted Senquerim Beach

Waiting for the catch

Aguoda Fort

Baga Beach At Night

The next 2 days we were to enjoy sightseeing in Goa and "just chill". We hired activa scooters for 175/day, the dealers of which are found in plenty. We covered places like Aguda fort, Sinquerim Beach (which was totally deserted) in the first half of the day and Ppr surprised us all by booking a ticket back to Bangalore citing his bad health (which I found to be highly suspicious :P ), cutting short his trip. Played in the Baga Beach in the evening sun. After nightfall went to Calangute beach to just chill out by the beach side and by midnight again went to Baga beach which was teaming with activity even at this unearthly hour.


Group Snap - Ppr

DCH Spot
View From The Spot
The next day we went to Vagator beach and Chapora fort. Enroute had breakfast at some pure vegetarian restaurant where normal south Indian dishes were served after a gap of 1.5 hr. It was pretty much the same story in all the vegetarian restaurants we went to. We would be the only customers in there and once we place our order the food preparation starts from scratch. Atleast we were content that we were getting fresh food. To reach the Chapora fort one has to take a mini-hike of around 15 mins. The sea-facing fort made famous by the movie Dil Chahta Hai provides some awesome views. Had a lot of snaps with shirt and without shirts :P. Next destination was Anjuna beach and after spending some time in here it was curtains on the Goa trip. Returned back to our accommodation returned our bikes, took a bus to Panjim bus stand and from Panjim bus stand took multi-axle Volvo (leg space is still as bad as the normal Volvos :( ) back to Bangalore and reached here at around 7.30 am the next day.

Anjuna Beach
This was a unique trek for me since I had never trekked on a railway track dotted with dark tunnels and surrounded by absolute greenery. Finally in this way the last trip with PPR ended (incompletely of-course). Our ''x-cel" man  has been a constant companion in our travels across India for the past 4 years, from the more tame sightseeing trips to the totally outrageous "Balls to the Wall" trips. All the best to you maga and we will miss you. Just remember we have a pact for Manasarovar trek sometime down the line :).

Trek Details --->
Total Trek Distance--> 14 + 2 kms
Difficulty Level --->Moderate (thanks to the path of loose stones, else the gradient is not an issue)
Total Cost Per Head --> 3k (inclusive of transportation, food and stay)

Accomodation details ------>

Snaps Link ------>

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