The IV Anantapur Ultramarathon, the only relay ultramarathon in India, took place earlier this year on the 24th and 25th of January and saw the participation of athletes from six countries.
Runners were divided in teams of four each in this non-competitive, solidairty event to cover a total stretch of 170 KMs. The route went through villages and the countryside of Andhra Pradesh where these runners interacted with the local communities at the transition points.
Yvonne Power was amongst the international runners. Here she shares her thoughts and experiences of being a part of the one of the biggest events in Anantapur and what it meant to #RunForChange.
1. Could you describe how you started off at the Ultramarathon?
The ultramarathon began at around 5:30 PM in Sundaraiah colony and I was in batch II, so we started at 7 PM. I had a great group of people, many of whom were mainly Indians and Spanish, so it was good to be an Australian among them.
But I had only ever run a half-marathon before. So this was a great gateway for me because it meant I could do a full-marathon but in four parts. In between each of the runs we got a 3-hour break during which we were transported to the next starting point. It was really well-organised.
2. What was your experience during the run, especially during the night?
It was quite dark and there were moments when it was very quiet. But there is always a car in the front and behind so everyone stays together. The camaraderie among the group was awesome. Every time we ran through a village, it was amazing to see that people were awake no matter what time of the night. They were cheering us on, banging drums and wanting to give us hi-fives. That kept our spirits up.
3. Do you remember any particular moment or incident from your run?
There are quite a few. Like sometimes it got pretty tough to go on but everybody watched out for each other. There were moments when I started to fall behind but then others would slow down with me and encourage me on and we got to the finishing point of each of the transitions together. Each relay that we did was amazing because everybody was just happy for each other regardless of whether you knew one another. The atmosphere was just so warm and lively.
4. You said that this was a gateway marathon for you so how do you feel after this? Would you run marathons again?
I think I am pretty amazed at myself for having been able to do it. I was quite hesitant at the start thinking ‘I won’t be able to make it’, but this just goes to show that when you have got good support, you can push yourself and achieve anything. My next big challenge would be to run a marathon that is not divided into relays but at least now I can say I have run an ultramarathon, so, that’s awesome.
Yvonne was one of the 214 runners that successfully raised funds to provide safe and secure housing for 45 families living in huts in Sundaraiah colony, a village in Anantapur. Are you looking to combine your passion for running and social change? The fifth edition of the Anantapur Ultramarathon will take place on 24th and 25th January, 2020 in the categories of 42K and 10K. Come join us and be a part of the movement to end inequality and poverty in rural India. To register, click here.
Text: Felita Viegas