2015: a new year, fresh legs, action-packed challenges!
First up, an ultra with a difference: instead of dramatic scenery with mountains, forests, streams, canyons or deserts as with my five ultras last year (Whale of Trail 52km, Outeniqua Quest 108km, Fish River Canyon Ultra 80km, Tuffer Puffer 160km, and the 70km day of KAEM), my first ultra of 2015 will cover remarkably different scenery…
On 7th February I’ll be taking part in Run The Rann, a 161km (100 miler) race in the Great Rann of Kutch, described as a sprawling 7,500km2 salt marsh located in the Thar Desert of north-western India on the Pakistani border. The area is said to be the largest salt desert in the world.
The route profile of Run The Rann will present an unusual challenge for me – instead of mountain ascents and loads of vertical gain, my mind and legs will need to focus on running a comparatively flat course… the highest point in the race is 243m above sea level, and for 90km or so in the middle section of the race, along the edge of the salt desert, the route has barely a bump or hiccup.
Running flat over long distances is not easy – there’s no relief for the legs, and it hurts. A lot.
Heat, isolation, stark landscape, and relentless white salt desert as far as the eye can see. Add to this the challenge of an unmarked course (GPS navigation compulsory), and you get the general idea. This one’s going to be tough!
This will be the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to race in India – in 2008 I ran the Himalayan 100 Miler, a 5-day stage race near the Himalayas. That race was about mountain views and thin air; this time I’ll get to see a very different corner of India – a region so remote that the island of Khadir Bet, over which the route is staged for the first and final thirds of the race, is virtually unexplored, apart from Border Security patrols and the race organisers.
Adventure is calling – bring it on!