Six states, 1,480 km and 20 days – 16 of the best ultramarathon runners from India and abroad will participate in the Great Indian Run, the country’s first ever multi-city marathon. The run will begin from Delhi on July 17 and will end in Mumbai on August 6. An ultramarathon is any race longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres. The runners will cover Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat – promoting running as a sport in India.
One of these runners is Dhanee Kumar, a resident of Anjar in Kutch district of Gujarat, who has won six ultramarathons in the country. Dhanee comes from a rural farming family in Uttar Pradesh and is engaged in farming when he is not running.
“I started running when I was five years old. Over time, people around me said I had talent in the field and that’s when I took it up seriously. I’ve never looked back since then,” says the 29-year-old. Coming from a financially weak background, Dhanee did not get the chance to begin his training under the guidance of a coach. But he started practicing on his own. It was only after his current coach Jitendra Khodiyar spotted him about eight years back, when he started training for the ultras. He has been participating in competitive runs since 2013. These include ultramarathons like the 100km ‘Ultra by Zendurance’ in Ladakh, 100km ‘Run the Rann’ in Kutch, 160km ‘Globeracers Ultra’ in the Rann of Kutch, and the 160km ‘Run the Rann’.
Dhanee participates only in those races that do not charge a registration fee, because of his financial condition. “My first ultramarathon was in Ladakh and it was really great. But the most memorable run was one in Rann of Kutch in which I lost my way at night. I was only five kilometres from the finish line, but was then lost for five hours,” he recounts.
Switching between high-intensity and low-intensity trainings, he runs 30-40 km each day. Though not completely tailored for his training regime, he says that it is just the regular Indian diet of dal, rice, vegetables and chapattis that he can afford and has learned to maintain a high level of stamina with the same.
“I work out every day and take rest on Sundays. Usually, it’s a long run at a slow pace one day, followed by a high-intensity session the next day. I eat a usual diet, nothing too dramatic. It’s usually my coach who sets the workout patterns as he is the one who guides me,” says Dhanee who has studied till Class 12.
The Great Indian Run is a joint effort by ProSportify and technology start-up MobieFit. “This run will be good for motivating people to start running. The essential requirements for running are the power of one’s mind and proper training. If one can make a career out of something that he/she loves doing, then there is nothing like that,” he concludes.