To be honest, I hadn’t thought of doing the Adani Ahmedabad Marathon (AAM) 2019, on 24th Nov, until a few of my running buddies said they were going. The running schedule in Mumbai for me this year was quite tight. We had the WNC Navy Half Marathon just a week back (17th Nov), and running a full marathon within a week would have been too much, and that would probably also mean that I cannot run the VVMM full marathon, a race I haven’t missed in several years and which I hold in high regard due to the amazing crowd support.
But the promise of a flat course, better weather, good arrangements, and above all, company of good friends, tilted the scales in favor of giving the Adani Ahmedabad Marathon a try.
I checked the travel plans from the buddies and accordingly booked the Shatabdi Express for travel on Saturday morning. The train journey was fun – any wishes I had of sleeping through the 6 hours journey vanished as soon as I boarded the train. The coach, and all the other coaches were about 50% full of runners leaving Mumbai to run the AAM! And the percentage shot up significantly in Surat where more runners boarded the train. All Garmin-totting, Nike-flaunting runners, busy chatting up with their buddies of the latest runs they have done, how they (always) feel undertrained before any full marathon event, and the latest in the running gear! Some chaps were even busy explaining the benefits to be had by incorporating some bit of barefoot running in your training!
And thanks to Jayu – we had amazing homemade theplas and potato-sabzi…the right kind of carbo loading, and gladly skipped the boring lunch provided in the train. The journey was otherwise unremarkable and we, on the spur of the moment, took a call to de-board at Maninagar (which is not an official stop for the train, but the train is known to half for a few mins there on occasions before reaching the Ahmedabad main railway station (aka Kalupur station).
We headed off to our respective hotels, and homes (yes, some of us had homes/relatives in Ahmedabad), with a promise to catch up tomorrow morning at the race holding area.
I decided to don the Comrades tee for this event – always a good icebreaker and conversation starter I have found in many races I have run in this. And if there are more than a few of us sporting the Comrades tee there, we could have a group pic too 🙂
A friend had arranged with other runners to pick me up from home and take me to the holding area inside the Shantigram township – which is quite far from the city proper.
The holding area was superb – the best I have seen! Clean grass, superclean, spacious and ample toilets (mobile ones only, but nice luxurious touches like wooden flooring!) and, to top it all, an army brass band playing for you. I did catch up with some pacers too, and decided to stick to my own game plan, which was, by the way, to maintain a sub-4 full marathon pace, as long as I can sustain. Adani, as a company, does a lot of work for the defense sector, and some of their products were on display in the holding area – tanks and all.
I was glad to notice some known Mumbaikars and great runners in the holding area – Amit and Neepa Sheth, Rupali Mehta, to name a few – and quite a few Comrades runners too (and yes, in their Comarades tees 🙂
The race started on time, with the army band playing the national anthem, and we headed out of the holding area. The first few kms were in the Shantigram township itself, and then, through a small patch of super-dark un-paved, and hence super-scary road, we headed out onto the main road beside the Narmada Canal.
It is here that the race route becomes straight-as-arrow, with good visibility of the route ahead, and a small up and down every time the road crosses another crossing across the canal. There was good traffic management with those crossings being managed very well, and there was invariably water stations there – the predictability helped since the bridges were visible from afar.
On our return leg we saw the amazing sun rise over the Narmada canal, and that was a view to behold, and also it was time to put on the glares since, within minutes, it will be too bright to see clearly. In fact, the whole return leg you are running right into the sun.
The run went well until the last 4 kms or so when the thighs/quads started giving initial signs of cramping. It was now time to tread cautiously and slow down a bit, and the pace dropped to about 6:30. In fact, I started chatting with some co-runners who were suffering too in their own ways, and some of them were armed forces guys (which was a solace :-). Thankfully, the finish line wasn’t too far and I could still run (as against having to walk!) into the finish line after spending a some bit of running, again, in Shantigram. There was a barrage of photographers at the finish line, and the post-run holding area was well stocked with water, and refreshments were good too. Met up with many friends, the ones who came with me from Mumbai, the Comrades runners I knew, and other acquaintances. Was fun 🙂