Friday, October 7, 2011

Shimla Half Marathon 2011 - It took my breath away

25th Sep 2011, a day for Shimla Half Marathon, which I was waiting for last few months. Running half marathon was no big deal to me but running at the altitude of 7,500 feet and elevation of almost 70 degrees, that is what made my curiosity to touch skies. Out of excitement I had planned three days long weekend starting 23rd Sep untill 25th evening. Last minute developments made my plan really hectic and I reached only on 24th midnight.

My day started at 4:30 AM and one hour before the big bang I was at Mall Road Shimla. The race was to start at 6:30 AM and early morning weather was really cold and was working like teaser for people who had come from lower altitude and hot climate. Interactions with running enthusiast made all mood to run as crazy as I could think.

Half Marathon started with down hill run, as the event progressed with around 300 meters, the track suddenly became narrow and extremely steep. The strategy to run here was to go steady so that blood circulation of legs does not gets affected as run ahead was extremely tougher than this. I made my run as steady as I could make it and stuck to same rhythm until the steep downhill. The downhill track went up to 4 kilometers and this distance was good enough to disturb blood circulation.

Next 1 kilometer was relatively flat track and most of the runners looked to be taking benefit of this track. The serene landscapes and tracks surrounded by pine trees caught everyone's attention. It felt like a dream run in the middle of heavenly valley.

The toughest part of Shimla Half Marathon came after 5 kilometers, when the track seemed disappearing into dense forest with steep climb of 80 degree and altitude gain of 1,000 feet in a distance of 1 kilometer. I could see people walking up and disappearing into the forest one by one. This was the stretch of two kilometer which forced everyone not let them make this marathon as an opportunity to set best self record. 

Shimla Half Marathon, made me realize that this distance running is rhythm less. Down hill, Steep uphill and flat tracks ensured that we do not stick to one rhythm. No matter how many marathons you have done at flat tracks, this one stand out among all others.

When I ended, steep uphill track, lot of people had gone ahead of me. The kilometer mark read, 9 Kilometer. That was the time when most of people resumed running. It looked really a big task to complete 21 k run at that stage. The track was still not flat and slow uphill was still on and my fight with pain in legs started here. Due to different pace at different time, down hill run followed by flat and uphill walk disturbed full rhythm. Above physical strength, but makes long distance running possible is mental strength. That is what I made sure that I do not give up mentally.

It was hardly half a kilometer track when downhill steep started and that added all the spice to run. Now the strategy of Running and Walking had to come in. This way I could preserve some energy and utilize it at flat track.

Pine tree dense forest working as blanket was protecting runners from Sun.The sad part was the water arrangement, there were hardly three places where water was available. Above this photographers (hardly two places) were carrying tiny cameras and some of them were trying to click photographs from mobile phone cameras.

Last 9 kilometers were too soothing with no runners around and calm forest. Tracks was too attractive and reduced my pain. My walking and running strategy went until finish line.

The learning from this marathon was that this is perhaps the toughest, the most beautiful marathon and the rhythm less long distance run.


  1. I know it is crazy when you have to adapt to different terrains and tempos and still manage to maintain your breathing. Congratulations on completing the run and not giving up!

  2. This was informative.High altitude running is indeed challenging with the air ensity working against the rhythm of ventilation.Now that u have mentioned it, this is a challenge that I must set my feet on.But first, the Delhi half marathon..

  3. Thanks a lot guys.
    Airtel Delhi Half is what I am waiting for now

  4. Shimla is perfect place to visit various activity. This place is giving you an exciting time spend with your tour of Himachal. The place is mostly visited by the newly weds couples and tourist.



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