Except for a monkey that almost came down on my head, things could not have gone smoother during the Tuffman Kasauli half marathon.
My wife needed the car over the weekend, so after getting my daughter to the doctor and back, I got an Uber to the bus stand. After the Shimla bus found me and we were on our way to Dharmpur where I had to get off, I dozed off.
I woke up with a start when the bus turned into a fuel station. I checked on Google maps where we were and realised that we did not go on the highway as I thought we would, but through Kalka and that we reached the closest point to Kasauli before turning away to Dharmpur. So I got off and hoped for the best.
I waited for maybe 5 minutes before a man in a small white minibus stopped next to me with shouts of “Kasauli, Kasauli!” So I got into the back where one person was already sitting. We soon added one more, and we sat tight until I was dropped off in Kasauli.
Google maps showed that I was 200m from the guest house where the Tuffman organisers had some accommodation for us, so I went there, but I couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was probably at the bib distribution. I walked there since it was only about a kilometre away.
I got my Bib and chatted a bit with some known co-runners. I was one of the pacers for this event, but they told me I would get my pacer kit the next morning. My next stop was the hotel that I booked for my daughter who now was unable to come due to her illness.
When I came close to my hotel, someone pushed a monkey off their balcony and it fell right in front of me! I had a huge fright, but no harm was done to me or the monkey. Hotel Puri seemed good, and the people were friendly – not to mention that it was less than 500 metre from the starting point. I bought some things for breakfast and water and looked forward to a long evening of rest and maybe a Netflix movie on my mobile. I still had a few that I downloaded before the Big Race of Punjab that I did not watch.
But, I got a call from Gagan who were with Yogesh and Jagteshwar from my office. So, I put on more clothes as it was dark by now and cold and went to look for them. We had a pleasant dinner together which for me was mostly pasta with a mushroom sauce. On the way back we stopped for tea and also met some others from Covalience runners. Runners were everywhere, browsing through the stores in the Kasauli mall-area.
Around 7:30 I was back in my room. It was freezing so I got into bed and watched “Race” which is a movie about Jesse Owens who won three gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The theme of racism was addressed well. I grew up in racist South Africa, but have now been in India so long that I am probably at least half-Indian at this point.
This morning (Sunday) it was cold in Kasauli. I got up early, had breakfast, did my quiet time (which consists out of reading the Bible and prayer) and then walked to the venue. I kept my jacket and tracksuit on as long as possible and then strapped my flag-jacket on and dropped my bag at the baggage counter.
At 7:30 we were off. The time on my flag showed 1:50. The route was steep down for the first half, then a u-turn and (naturally) steep up the second half. I stressed a bit to come up with a plan that will work to accomplish it, but decided to go all-out down and then see if I can hold the required pace back up.
Down went well and my Garmin showed that I did my best recorded 10k in 39 minutes down the hill. Coming back, I had to keep an average of about 7 minutes for a kilometre. I found that I could do 6 minutes per kilometre quite comfortably, so I stopped at water stations, walked a bit, took it nice and easy.
I wish I had my phone with me so that I could take pictures of some of the awesome scenery. The sky was clear and blue; one could see the Himalayas with white-caps in the distance.
I kept my eye on the time. It became steeper towards the end, and it took a bit more effort, but I felt strong and finished in 1:47:17 which also turned out to be the first position in the 45+ age category.
Tuffman did a great job with their first half marathon. They had water and energy drinks including Red Bulls. Everything went without a hitch from my perspective.
I caught a ride with Jagteshwar’s jeep back home. There wasn’t a lot of traffic.
I am happy that I could be back running after my injuries. I probably also needed the time of rest to be able to enjoy running again.