Solang Sky Ultra Patalsu Challenge 14kms, 30th Sept – Trying the adventurous format

This is where it all ended in 2021.. Dnf’d at 100km category by 3 mins.. but who knew this just lead to a new beginning of a lifetime. I am forever in debt to the experiences gained at Solang Sky Ultra 2021-100km category. 
Now, the calling had to be answered. Got wiser? Yes and what do I do? Singed up for the humble 60km category. I remember Vishwas coining the term Humbleness in response to how much respectful one needs to be when you choose your path into these treacherous mountains of Solang. 
With couple of months left, elevation training had to find some space in the schedule. I had dedicated the weekends to hit the hills and train those elevation gains. As a part of the process, heading out of Bangalore on weekends was a good bet in terms of short travels and a sneak peak in to the trails at Kudremukh, Bandage and Makali Durga climbs etc. 
Planning the travel to Manali was on the cards too prior to staying put in solang a couple of days before the event date. Just a week prior to the event, Saturday was a exquisite hike that helped me warm up towards any acclimatisation of that may be needed at those altitudes. 

So this was it, a 20km hike lasting over 6-7hours made me realise what its going to take for the upcoming ordeal.

With days approaching closer to the 1st of October, a thought did cross my mind of taking up Patalsu Challenge 14km to check how the body is going to respond to fatigue levels the other day when I take on the mighty 60kms run. This became necessary due to the upcoming format at a trail event which had not one but 3 trail running events on 3 consecutive days. And hence the impromptu decision to register was made and the execution of the same was making rounds in my head.
With start time between 8-8:30am, the early wake up alarms were never a worry any more but the concern on the amount of time I get to test before I start the 60km category was still a matter that needed planning. 
Briefing done a day before the Patalsu Challenge along with 100km category runners definitely made us feel miniscule in terms of effort needed to climb Patalsu. 

The adventure valley camp site had housed the start and finish points for other category where as Patalsu had its start point near the Solang bridge that headed directly in to the village followed by the climb. Thunderstorms and infrequent rains were making their presence felt too and just like for any other runner, worries were bound to grow two folds. 
With mileage around 14kms, the hydration bag needn’t be loaded and could only add support for water, electrolytes and few munchies. The aid stations were not of a big concern when being self dependent. At 8am, we made our way to the bridge and waited for the countdown to finish.

A fairly simple affair of going up 7kms and be back down with another 7kms to the kitty and within the cutoff time to get rid of the dnf certificate that had been already rolled out by the hell race team to make us feel pity in humour. 
So this is how it was laid down and it just gets interesting

The elevation graph was quite clear and had to be dealt with. It’s the summit that makes it more even more interesting when your task is to find the way to the top. There is just one aid station cum check point at 5th km and post that the route does not help with signages any more as you are bound to travel upstraight and find the checkpoint on the top. With weather conditions deteriorating, this was a hell raiser for sure and loosing way to the top became the talk of the town for most of them. I drifted away due to the strong wind, rains and slippery boulders and the scene wasn’t pretty anymore. Calling out loud to the fellow runners is what I started doing and after a while could hear someone whistling and shouting. I could barely understand what was being said, but my survivol instinct only begged to follow that voice to either help or fetch some help in finding the way out of this calamity. 

That 40-50 minutes of the route on that extremely technical terrain begging for some route direction to the top and back was a major highlight of the run and definitely prooved to be taxing when compared to 30 and 60km category and quoting this post running all the trail routes in each category and I would only beg to differ if given an opportunity on a clear weather condition and yes, it does matter a lot and impacts in all the topsy turve that one can experience at Patalsu Challenge.

At last, the painstaking hour was over and we headed back to the start point to finish what we started. On the way back, the urge to confess on the difficulty level of the terrain was on our lip but at the same time looking at the competitive nature of the runners against the ordeal, the onus was left on the survival instinct of the said runners. Life mending calls were made to let go off the peak and be content with the enormous effort put in to achieve the undone was announced remarkable and one of the biggest learnings of runners life. 
Returning back to base was not an the usual affair of taking step after step towards the end, but was with a teary eye and cold shiver down the spine focusing on the knowledge gain that we as athletes may bound to lack and in haste deprive us from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. With days missing in a fellow runners life was a hunt in progress while we continued to pray for the return. With no signs of existence on endless search and rescue operations, it is a question to be answered by every individual on how much care and guidance is seeked prior to exploring the unknowns and time and again, such mishaps have been the eye opener. 

I returned to the base and only to find several miscals from a dear debutant at Patalsu Challenge. This didn’t take much time to raise our heart rates and with immediate attention and communication with the help of the organisers, there was a sigh of relief.
Could I flaunt my achievements post the run? yes ofcourse but could I also flaunt the caliber with which I beg to draw that thin line to define the controlled aggression? u bet yes. So my dear fellow runners, part 1 of the format was done with quite some circus of life and the goal of finishing the run without any injury was achieved.

The clock had started ticking for yet another game changer the next morning. And guess what, the rain god’s had no mercy showers planned for us. A good night meal and a good night sleep is all wished for to wake up again in the wee mornings at 3:30am only to begin the rave at 4:30am as per the 60km category was scheduled by The Hell Race team.
Strava stats-:-
Mandatory Gear check:-

Event website:-
Quote of the day:-
Thresholds don’t exist in terms of our bodies. Our speed and strength depend on our body, but the real thresholds, those that make us give up or continue the struggle, those that enable us to fulfill our dreams, depend not on our bodies but on our minds and the hunger we feel to turn dreams into reality.
Kilian Jornet,