Race Report: Sinhagad Epic Trail Run
This was my first competitive event since the Vagamon ultrail in January. I participated in the 22km category, which had an elevation of 1200+ m, and emerged as a winner taking 2:56:17 hrs of time.
Our race started at 6:05 AM, 5 mins after the 42km flag off. Initial 1 km was a concrete road, which worked as a warm-up for the upcoming hill, the famous Trek of Sinhagad. The next two kilometers were pure trekking with 400m of elevation. Upon reaching the top I got along with two 42km runners and we started running together on the downhill until we hit the next hill, “The W”, full of greenery, mud, and water. Uphill running was fine but downhill wasn’t that much fun because the water had made the ground very slippery. While we three were putting every step very carefully, holding trees, bushes and whatever we could find, a girl came from behind and went really fast on that downhill, just like the water flows. She was so smooth as if she was not even placing foot on the ground. After crossing the last downhill of W, we hit the plain farming fields. The next few kilometers were easily runnable and I tried to cover the lost time here.
The next obstacle in the path was the marshy land full of water, mud, plants, and whatnot, it reminded me of my childhood days when I along with my cousins used to run barefoot in this kind place. And that’s what I did this time too. I removed my shoes and socks and crossed that field barefoot. That was fun!!
After crossing that part, I put on my shoes again and started running. The next one kilometre was a concrete road followed by another section of trail and small hills. Here I could maintain a steady pace and run comfortably. I was aware that after a few more kilometres I have to climb the Sinhagad again, so I didn’t want to push too much and lose energy. By this time I had started thinking that I am in the first place until I saw one more runner (Saurav) ahead of me. I increased my pace a bit and watched his bib number carefully, he was from my category and running strong. I knew that there is still fun left in this race. From here on we both ran almost together.
Soon we hit the road again and I started taking the lead slowly. I continued to build that gap until I reached a junction and couldn’t decide which way to go, luckily I started running in the right direction and reached the water station. The volunteers guided me for the next section which was the last uphill of the race, the trek of Sinhagad from the other side of it.
Meanwhile, Saurav also caught up with me and we both started climbing together. Pace had dropped and energy was going down exponentially. When I looked up to check how much climb was still remaining, I noticed two local people, man, and woman, climbing up with a huge bucket of fruits on their heads. I was like…whaaatttt!!!!
I got filled with energy and started climbing a bit faster. We were getting close to the top and the last aid station of the race. But before we could reach there, we had to climb the giant steps. Ohhhhhh…those steps were killers, even the encouragement of the volunteers there, could not encourage me to move faster. I had noticed that Saurav was also getting tired and as it was his first hill run, I speculated that upon reaching the top he would be more tired than I was. We reached the last aid station together and to my surprise that guy started running like anything. I took my time, started running slowly and built my pace gradually until I caught him and the game was on.
By this time the crowd had increased, we had to shout to ask for the way and before we knew we reached the point where we had to start descending from Sinhagad.
Here again, Saurav took the lead and soon disappeared from my sight. I could not see him for the next 100-200 m but was not ready to let it go. I further increased my pace and caught him drifting down the uphill. We ran neck to neck for some time and I overtook him eventually. After coming down, the last stretch of 1km was left, where I could run freely. I kept increasing my pace and crossed the finish line as a winner of my category.
I was happy with the result but there is a lot of room for improvement. When the winner of the 42 km category arrived, I realized how slow I had run my race.
But to an extent, it is a good thing, if we don’t see someone better than us, we might not push harder. Had Saurav not run faster I would not have pushed myself.
This race and other runners made me realize, where I lag and where I need to focus more.
In the end, I congratulate all the fellow runners, especially those who experienced this kind of terrain for the first time, for pushing their limits and finishing one of the toughest races.
Congratulations to the organizers and volunteers for giving continuous support and encouragement even in the heavy rains.