The Great Mawla Ghaati Ultra Trail Run 2023 – Once a Mawla, always a Mawla!

This event revealed the first ever 100 miler trail run in India and as brutal it can get, this run had a cut off time of 46 hours with intermediate cut off times too. So glad not being a 100 miler participating yet, but definitely would thrive to be one day. I chose to run the 50km category instead as this was still a recovery phase for me to start covering the mileage of my choice. Nevertheless, this was indeed a vast learning experience I was looking forward to. 

With Adinath not holding back his thoughts by letting the running community know how I have become a inspiration to aspiring runners, his events have become equally important when it comes to facing the reality of technical trail runs and finding one self in competition to all the factors that brings the best in you at his events. You definitely not just evolve as a runner but also a stronger human being. 

Thankyou again Adinath for this mention. I shall be living another run event of yours to tell the tale.

While we aimed at 50km category, Roshan opted to attempt the 100 miler and surprisingly it took some fear off as I was only trying to think through his ordeal of 161kms that he will have to undergo and that very feeling diminished the brutality of 50kms for me.
Goodluck Roshan! Wish you all the strength in the world.

The start time for 100 miler was 1pm on 23rd June and was indeed a tricky one as it was close to lunch time. These odds of the run event help in thriving the discomfort levels one may have to face and is indeed a learning curve as always.

Now, With less than 24 hours to go for the 50kms category run, the preps as usual could not be compromised. The mandatory gear checks were also in place by the organisers to ensure one can be self dependent owing to distantly setup checkpoint and aid stations.

The morning before announced the arrival of non stop rains and as predicted, this does give respite from the heat but at the same time the cold breeze needed a shield on the route. These weather changes were made clear too to the runners in advance giving that opportunity to be suited for the weather.

Also, the briefing had few important updates in terms of rescue when in need, so that no runners are in for a surprise. Bottom line was, it can take a couple of hours minimum to arrange for a vehicle from the closest checkpoint to base. 

The briefing and BIB collection took a day before between 4-6pm at Jaggs Inn. The organisers do share a list of hotels you could choose for booking as you may not be familiar with the location there. There were also pickup arranged to the start point of race day. 

All said and done, we returned back to our dens to pack our hydration bags and gears for the D day. This day did not see the rains taking a break and it poured and poured. This definitely must have put the 100milers to a worry and also worry was about the sluggishness of the water soaked route. 
A good night sleep and making it to the start point by 5am was the first goal. A 5:30am start did demand for head torches as the visibility was zero without light. The pouring had stopped but few drizzles here and there were expected but not to a extent that we witnessed a day before. We chose to leave that to time as we began our chase to the end which ofcourse felt daunting in the first climb in near site right after the start. Finding a way to the top was tricky as many runners rushed on it and were helter skelter. The route was quite slippery and all we knew to keep heading up and so did we till we got a breather.


But the sense of relief was short lived as few hundred meters of run lead to yet another climb. And as we gained altitude the light torches were not able to cope with the foggy surroundings and lead to poor visibility. 
And like always, let me put forward the elevation map that always gives me jitters.

And yes, it was 25kms in and 25kms out, as simple as it sounds, but felt like a never ending ordeal. And all that because of the snails pace that we developed due to slippery surfaces and at instances watching out each and every step that was put forward, a miss and a fall was so anticipated, not just once but a dozen times. The rain gods had come to play early too. That reminded me of the poncho that I just bought a day before, thanks to Vishal and Bipin to procure that in short time and get it at the race venue. 

By the time the idea came to my mind to wear and get running in it, it was too late and was already drenched. And the humidity factor could not be avoided and there the comfort level to run without it was in practice. As a result, this race was nevertheless run throughout in wet attire. 

And now the disappointing part, well not really but to a extent considering I had high hopes with Hoka Speed Goat 5 on these trails. It could be a expected performance of the shoe too, just that the trails were too challenging for the soles of the shoe. 
Bought these on a steal deal on Tata cliq, the Hoka Speed Goat 5 had made the necessary impression on me since last year at UTMB Thailand. It almost felt like a Hoka festival. Hence ended up buying the shoe because of its light weight and broader front. 

What went wrong? 
The muck that often stuck on Mawla trail had to be shed often and this was quite annoying. I rather expected the movement with ribbed soles to get the sticky dirt off the underneath but I ended up stopping frequently to scrape the mud using stone. The broader interior caused twisting of ankles inside the shoe and the guess what, the soft exterior got me bruises and scratches on my toes. I could often trade in for a little heavier shoe yet give me the healthy performance for dirt and slippery trails. As a result, I just ended up asking fellow runners a feedback on whatever shoe they were wearing. 
So my verdict for Hoka Speed Goat 5.0 so far is – it is a low performer and has less grip on slippery mud trails. 

This ain’t Hoka in the pic :).

The aid stations were 5-7-10 kms apart and carrying a hydration bag with refills and muchies were the need of the hour. The sun wasn’t killing this time but the humidity still had its part to play. The frequent rains kept your body cold but this shouldn’t be a disguise of not being tired and thirsty. Your hydration needs to be taken at regular intervals even if it is a sip, it needs to be taken when thirst isn’t there yet. This avoid burning out entirely and then gulping a whole lot which again is not advised and if combined with electrolytes, bloating could be an issue. So, keep sipping instead of drinking.
The aid stations were equipped with the expectation already set during the briefing. This was indeed a semi supported or I rather chose it to be a self supported run. Lemon, salt, water, banana, dates, chips, peanuts were at your disposal. I majorly ended by making a lemon water with sugar and salt mixed drink to replenish those salt and sugar losses. The aid stations also recorded your BIB number on arrivals that helped track the runners on the route. 

The first milestone was definitely the 25km mark and the road towards the end of it had its own challenges. The route traversed through dence roots on both the sides and very narrow uneven single trail. Your focus on the trail could not be compromised else it would just lead to another fall. Heavy slush on this down hill made it even more difficult to land on a steady foot. This has to be walked over because personally witnessing, this wasn’t runnable at all.
The halfway through got us the much needed insights of what’s going on follow next on our return. The route had gotten more slippery and the surface over which the 100 miler, 75km and 50kms category runners ran through had developed zero traction and has no space for improvement because no part of the route seemed to been have left unused. As a result, the difficulty level just doubled. Be it a slow incline or a decline, the shoe had absolutely zero grip. The trekking poles were of less support too. I ended up holding up the roots of the trees to get pass this phase. This was a daunting task indeed and the toughest part of the run. 

Post this, all that had to be done was to keep moving. The rains won’t stop, the fog was increasing in certain parts of the route. And how can we not miss the route markings on trail atleast for once :). So that happened. The lead female runner – Rutuja had stopped at a distance and asked to look for red and white ribbons but unfortunately we ended up following the old ribbons and when closely observed, these ribbons were worn out and discolored. 

The path back to the last found fresh set of ribbons had to be taken without a doubt and waa a sign of releif when we saw few fellow runners not taking that 90 degree right on the route and ended up running towards us. Together we got back on the right route and the march towards the destination continued. 
The slow and steady pace, with hydration refills at aid stations and enjoying the body warmth in the middle of showers was a thing for sure. Hunger pranks had to be taken care of. The moment of trance in the legs was met post the 40km mark and it just kept moving effortlessly. By now time definitely seemed running out. The 50kms run had a cut off of 12hours and is doable under 10 hours but the sluggishness of the route was an added hustle to first ensure that you could walk well and second to ensure you don’t land in a ditch or down the mountain. This was all an calculated risk and your strength training in action. 

With just two more peaks to go, and with clock ticking, it was past 11 hours and the race to the finish line did not get any faster and the terrain overlooked on us as it posed the same kind of danger as it did at the start of the race. Slow and steady again as I reached at the end of the race was a downhill and no, this could not be compromised too, the zero grip surface had its own charm for the day and it lasted indefinitely. With some noise I was able to gather some crowd for the finish and the thirst for more trail on the Western Ghats had been quenched. 

So here’s what went down that day.

The finish was well cherished and for more to come. Until then rise and mile.

With Adinath 

And Jaygovind.

These fellas chased me down to the finish. Quite a push I must say.

Give it up for Chinmay, Aditya and Maruti. Cheers!
And Roshan?

He just got wiser and decided to pull off at the right moment and enjoy the rest of the weekend at Sahyadris. It well deserved 76kms was hard earned with one night spent on the creepy trails. 
Catching up with fellow runners is always refreshing.

The happy go lucky

A comeback for Trupti

Ganesh the Goat..

We meet again Tomar. Outstanding as always.

The father, mother and daughter trio debut at Sahyadris.

The undisputed ultra women – Ashwini. I am fan so sure.

You hear some banter on the route and that’s Nandini for you. 

Here’s Kireet, guess the only one who enjoys trails the most.

Vishal on the path of recovery, all power to you man.

And expanding the niche ultra trail community with Atul. That laugh on the trails said it all. 

And all Kudos to the only miler finisher – Kalam Bisht. History has been carved. 

Thankyou Jumping Gorilla Team. You deserved all the celebration for yet another successful event. 

Once a Mawla, always a Mawla!