Beautiful Cauvery flowing by, A red-mud trail, colorful lush green fields and 42.2Kms to the finish line.
Kaveri Trail Marathon, event was flagged off and I sent upwards a big prayer for Balaji,as he started running his first ever marathon braving unbelievable heat, thirst, sweat, fear of dehydration, pebbles and muddy trail. Had an interesting time with Kavitha who had come to cheer Gopal who had trained and practiced for the run with Balaji. He had a smooth First half run while Kavi and I sat in the car generally chatting about our lives. After that we got on to the trail armed with energy drink and water. We cheered all the runners along the trail and spotted Balaji going towards his 30th km mark. I estimated that he will come back to that point in about 30 minutes. We spotted Gopal as he was running towards his 30th mark. He told us he had had a fall at the 7th Km of the race and also had cramps. We asked him if he wanted to rest, but he shook his head, waved and was off again. 1.5 hours after that there was still no sign of Balaji.
I totally gave up and panicked. I was imagining all sorts of bad things that could have happened to him. He could have fallen and gotten hurt, he might have given up and gone back to the resort by ambulance and blah blah blah...something and all random thoughts were running in my head. By then even Gopal did not turn up. I started to go into panic mode and started asking every runner passing by if he had seen a guy with a bandana or had they seen a guy with curly long hair (G). All kept saying "yeah, they are behind me somewhere", and still there was no sign of these guys. The heat was killing us by then.
We tried distracting ourselves by trying hard to admire the beautiful peaceful place that we were at, but in vain. We also tried spotting the tee color that these guys were wearing and finally gave up. We started walking towards the 30thKm mark and then we spotted Balaji. Barely able to walk. Literally limping, but at a decent pace. Relief swept over me and we decided to walk back. He told us Gopal was a little behind him and Kavi waited up on the trail for him. We started towards the finish and every beep on his garmin forerunner bought us closer to the finish line and bought some cheer.
This increased the enthu level in Balaji and he started pacing again. I was out of breath by the time I caught on after my breaks at the water points. The heat and hunger slowly started getting on to me and I started walking really slowly. By now, Balaji had a few friends and he started running along with them towards the finish. By the time I reached the finish, there he was. With a "finisher" medal, and a proud smile on his face.
Folks started jumping into the water by then. We could not resist and we also let the ice cold water wash off our tired feet. We splashed about for a while and got out of the water. Just then we saw Gopal finishing and gave a whoop as soon as we saw him. It was such a beautiful moment to see a runner with injuries braving it all and finishing! This was not all, we saw a lady with a less than a year old child on a pram doing the half-marathon. A guy with a fracture, wearing a sling do a full/half (not too sure). Incredibly brave people these were. What an inspiration!! We stopped for a quick lunch at the Young Island resort. On the way Gopal and Kavi stopped by @ CCD. Gopal says, "The good news is, there is coffee. The bad news is, It is on the first floor". We literally wept. By now, Kavi and I were also limping. The folks at CCD gave us strange looks as the four of us limped our way to our couch. To my horror, these guys ordered Idly. I mean, IDLY @ CCD was too much for me to take. Anyway, that was the joke of the day for me! We somehow limped back to our respective cars after a good 1 hr of relaxing and I drove back to Bangalore. That was my first highway drive. 150Kms. Mysore-Bangalore. But the, is another blogpost by itself!!!
So, back to the man of the moment. Balaji manages to surprise me by the way he leads life. He sets goals and so high and dedicatedly works towards them. I sometimes wish I could be like him, and have supreme self-confidence that I can never really be like that. The kind of passion he has, dedicated approach, the excitement and enthu about his vision is all mind blowing. I have new found respect for the way he handled himself, kept up his spirits and managed to talk/joke around after that exhausting run!
To me, Balaji is the new definition of will-power itself! 42Kms is insane and pure madness according to a whole lot of folks, me included. I am still amazed that you pulled it off and managed to walk around after that. If i ever walked that distance, I would have wound up in the hospital!
Way to go champ. Incredibly proud of your achievement.
You rose some 10 feet tall in front of my very own eyes. I am grateful that I was able to witness this event and share the moment with you.
After this, I fell for you all over again! >-----<-0 like that!