Ooty ULTRA 90kms – Fit first, Beast Next!

This is me sitting at the 60km checkpoints and already planning on recuperating. The only mantra that I continued to chant was – Fit First Beast Next, Fit First Beast Next.

The Tale of my run, unfolds below……

Being privileged and terrified at the same time is the feeling one can carry before hitting the start line at Ooty ULTRA. 

Privileged why? because your past deeds help you qualify for the 90k club. Or simply run the Ooty ULTRA 60k category to earn a place in 90k category. T n C applies :).

Terrified why? You get famous but knowing the cutoff time is 12hours for 90kms, is going to be a hair raising experience. 
The usual regime to get in those miles before to head to the major event was underway. Again, sustainance while you carry a injury within you has been and will always be a key goal to gain heights in the so called niche segment of ultra running.
Coach Kay posts on social media had done the needful on knowing how many days to the start line and also introduced us to many those who plan to Bell the cat at Ooty ULTRA 90kms and other categories. The name, fame as usual was at stake when you plan to reap benefits and learnings from such events and so be it, you got to be up for it to know the very you as a being when compared to the rest of the world.
Days past by as work and trainings were laid in parallel to maintain the balance and achieve the best in respective field. Just as so the pressure started building, an unfortunate incident lead to back muscle spasm and had put everything at risk. And guess what, it was 7 days to go for the event. Someone had to save me from the horror.

Courtesy – Rehabics Physiotherapy

The treatment continued and I was not closer to fit to pull off the 90kms and had started prepping my mind to raise the red flag when necessary.
With couple of days to go, landed in Ooty to enjoy the cool weather and yes, was a much needed cool off from the scorching heat of Bangalore. 

The BIB collection took place on Saturday and met the rest of the runners who had pledged to bell the cat too. The excitement could be felt among the runners while it continued to mount pressure within me with owing to the new injury. 

The pain wasn’t felt but the discomfort continued to haunt me while in motion. A thought did cross my mind of changing the category to 30kms instead of risking it while attempting the 90kms. Atleast that would have given me a good night sleep the night before were my afterthoughts. 
With coach doing what he does best at the race briefing and also inviting over the 90kmw category runners to have the crowd witness the self pity that we may go through in less than 12 hours. 

Post the briefing, chose to scoot back to the room and packed for the next morning. The usual ritual of refills in the hydration bag and some warm clothes as the weather is pretty cold in the morning and race start being at 6am, this ought to be done. 
With the chose 21 runners, the race for the 90kms began and the march towards the Dodabetta peak began after the initial 4kms. 
Along side were the 60kms category runners that also began at 6am.

The tease on the back continued right from the start line and it didn’t budge for a second. All my thoughts had gotten channelized with the mere intention of calling it off anytime from the time I began the run. 
The route was laid well and had a fair idea of the first 60km as a perk from the last year’s run. Hands down, this wasn’t easy and with a fresh spasm on the back, this wasn’t going to be easy this year too. 
Kept a closer look on the elevation profile this year and made those harsh calls of how much more to continue with the recurring discomfort. 

The initial 4km run followed by the steep incline towards Dodabetta is all you need to know what you are against and the only plus here is the weather. The 10km peak takes you to the highest altitude in Ooty and the run down could help you make up for all the time that you may have lost on the uphill. That’s the strategy you tend to implement when you have some stringent cutoff times.
A downhill up to 22kms and right there you realise that you are accompanied by none other your dehydration partner – The SUN! 🌞
We are now in the open, directly under the sun making the 8km climb towards the first checkpoint of 30kms. By now, I had gotten off the wind cheater and the monkey cap and yes, yes the pouring of water glasses to cool of the heat had already begun too.

A thought just crossed my mind as I reached the first check point, would this be it or could I push a bit further and get an Ultra under the belt or just call it a day. Mixed feelings, the downhill just made me fall for it considering less effort to be executed. But yes, the uphill at 45 could be the final game changer. 
The heat that was building around was yet another deal breaker and not even a bit closer to what was experienced a day before. It was a rainy day and the very thought of having it on the D day could make us worry the other way around.
With some courage and fellow runners alongside, I gained enough motivation and also addressed passerby concern on how well Iam doing. Much appreciated when you are asked about your well being and sharing my painful journey was making it a little easy when I had ear to hear me out. 

With temperature rising on one side and fatigue building up in my back muscles, the decision to stop at 60kms was done at around 54kms. This wasn’t a emotional one but was a well calculated decision knowing how much can be pushed and the ultimate line that needs to be drawn to balance agression and well being at the same time.
As I approached towards the 60km mark, I chose to sit under tree shade whenever possible and rested. This short term recoveries helped me continue with the rest of the climb. 

Now, with less than a couple of kilometres to go, the uphill task had come to an end. A run down to the finish line with a 100 meter approximate climb towards the 60km checkpoint is all I had to look forward to as I had already concluded the race well in advance. Doing so also relieved me of the distress I would have chosen to go through if I had to continue for the rest of the race.
Lessons learnt again and gains in the maturity of the sport is the greatest win I looked forward to at every event I attend and this was one of its kind. I had it all sink in to my thoughts and was laying down the foundation towards recovery. More strength and mobility without having to worn out frequently at events is a factor considered quite well to maintain the consistency and longevity as age catches up. 
Thankyou Coach Kay for doing what you do best at Ooty ULTRA. This is indeed a stepping stone for budding runners who look forward to taking up challenges ahead in Ultra Running nationally as well as at international events. 
Until then, Fit First Beast Next! 

And yes, there were a few happy moments too and not at all a sob sob story that unfolded. 
Here you go..

Race stats while I survived

Ooty ULTRA 90km page:
The results page:-
Read more about the event

Quote of the day
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.