2015: a new year, fresh legs, action-packed
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!
Labels: Khadir Bet, Rann of Kutch, Thar Desert