Athletes from India, Spain, Australia, Ireland and the USA have participated in the non-competitive solidarity race organised by the NGO Rural Development Trust
The event marks the start of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the organisation.
The IV AnantapurUltramarathon, the only relay ultramarathon in India, concluded this morning as all runners reached the finish line set at the premises of the Rural Development Trust (RDT) Hospital in Bathalapalli, Andhra Pradesh. Divided in 26 teams of four people each, the participants covered a distance of 170km in relays.
The non-competitive solidarity race commenced yesterday, 24th January, at 5 PM from Sundaraiahgari, a village on the Gorantla-Kadiri road in the Anantapur district. The objective is to provide access to secure housing as well as water and electricity to 45 families living in huts in this village. So far the runners have already managed to fundraise over 1 crore rupees.
The track of 170 KMs stretched through small asphalt roads and villages where RDT implements its development programmes.At every transition point, which was at a distance of 10 KM, the runners could rest, reprovision and interact with the local communities.
The locals were a great support as they cheered the runners on even at midnight as they passed through the villages. At every transition point, the community, from the young to the old, gathered to celebrate along with the participants with music and dancing.
From Tadimarri, the last transition point, to the finish line, the ultramarathoners were joined by the participants of the Anantapur 10K, a modality introduced in this edition to encourage the participation of local runners.
An international event
Combining the Ultramarathon and the 10K, 214 runners from India, Spain, Australia, Ireland and the USA have participated in the fourth edition.
Some of them, like the Spaniard, Faustino López, has participated in all editions and says that if luck prevails, he will continue to. “This adventure is like living many emotions. I leave Anantapur with the warmth I recieved from the villagers and the hugs from fellow runners. Congratulations to all for having achieved not only the goal of the event but most importantly, the goal of solidarity.”
Peter Keogh, who came along with his daughter from Ireland to participate in the Ultramarathon said, “We went through villages where children, parents and elders were there to cheer for us, even at 4 AM. It gave us a lift as we were running through. No matter how hard it felt or how low we felt, when we saw them all, it was humbling.”
Krish Hanmanthu drove 190 KMs from Bangalore to take part in the Anantapur 10K. According to him, the experience has been “memorable not only because of the run but also everything that goes behind it, especially its objective.”
50th anniversary of RDT
This year, the Anantapur Ultramarathon also marks the launch of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Rural Development Trust. Its founders, Vicente and Anna Ferrer, reached Anantapur on 25 th January 1969 where they later established the organisation.
On this occasion, Executive Director Anne Ferrer said, “50 years ago, Vicente and I came with the dream to work with communities to eradicate poverty. Today, over 200 runners have joined us from different parts of the world to continue that dream.”
‘One km, one life’
The ultramarathon is an original initiative by Juan Manuel Viera, an ultrarunner from Spain and a volunteer of RDT. In 2015, he combined his passions—running and social change—and decided he would run a kilometre for every new enrolled child under RDT’s programmes in Anantapur district.
The IV Anantapur Ultramarathon has exceeded its fundraising goals. Through their participation fees and solidarity, the runners along with their friends and relatives, have managed to raise this year as much as they collected in the three previous editions together.
Text: Judit Algueró Llop