This is the original, non-competitive, welcoming event that helped many runners in the city realize that they can tackle ultra-distances and be up on their feet for long hours. This year the Mumbai Ultra wishes to see more women participating.
“I would like to test my ability to run for 12 hours,” naval officer, Commander Mandeep Kaur, said.
She is part of a 25-strong contingent from the Indian Navy due to participate in the fifth edition of the Mumbai Ultra: a 12-hour run.
Fifteen runners from the Indian Coast Guard will also be taking part in the event, scheduled for August 15.
This time around, Mumbai Ultra is making a departure from the norm in its entry rules. Entrants will have to submit proof of having done a full marathon distance or any distance in excess of 42.2 kilometres.
So far, 300 entries have come in for the 400 slots available for the 12-hour run.
“We would like to have more entries from women runners. Towards that, we have decided to relax the mandatory requirement of a full marathon to enroll here,” Naveen Hegde, one of the organisers of the running event, said.
“We have decided to accept entries from women who have completed 25 kilometre-run or a six-hour run and are confident of sustaining 12 hours on their feet,” he said. Mumbai Ultra will re-open for registration for a short period to enable women who are eligible so, to register for the event, he said. A message on the event’s Facebook page informed that online registration will be available afresh from 10 AM to 10 PM on August 1.
The event that starts at 5 AM on August 15 will see participants repeating a loop from Shivaji Park to Worli Sea Face in central Mumbai for 12 hours.
Mumbai’s well-known coach Savio D’Souza has been roped in as race director for the 2018 edition.
Among senior runners expected to participate in this year’s Mumbai Ultra are 80-year-old Dr P.S. Ramani, well-known neurosurgeon; 78-year-old Usha Soman, former professor of biochemistry and mother of model, actor and endurance athlete, Milind Soman and 71-year-old Kamalaksha Rao, a recreational runner.
Edelweiss is one of the main sponsors of the event and FDC, which manufactures energy drink, Enerzal, is the supporting sponsor.
This year, Mumbai Ultra also plans to have pacer buses for various distances such as 50 km, 65 km, 70 km, 75 km, 80 km and 85 km.
“I have heard that it is a very-well organised run,” Commander Mandeep Kaur said adding that she has done an eight-hour run during one of her practice sessions. She commenced running a year ago and has participated in many running events including BNP Ultra running a distance of 50 km.
Dr Ramani has been running for about 30 years. At 80 years of age, he seemed undeterred by the hours of running required at Mumbai Ultra. “One thing I can say is that I will not be resting during those hours. I hope to be on my feet,” he said adding that he has been to several marathons over the years.
“I have participated in Mumbai Marathon every year since its inception. Initially, I used to run the full marathon distance but now I do the half marathon,” he told this blog.
Mumbai Ultra is a well organised event, Kamalaksha Rao said.
“Last year, I was aiming to run 50 km but ended up doing 60 km due to the fantastic arrangements, such as medical team and physio team every 2 km on the route. The hydration and aid stations are so well-stocked that we get the confidence to do our best,” he said.
For many runners in the city, Mumbai Ultra is the original, non-competitive, welcoming event that helped them realize that they can tackle ultra distances and be up on their feet for long hours.
(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)