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Success of Great India Run highlights country's acceptance of Ultra Marathons

968   //    20 Jun 2016, 14:40 IST
MobieFit’s Utkarsh Veer Singh, Gul Panag, Milind Soman and Pro Sportify’s Vishal Gurnani at the Great India run launch

If you think running a marathon was an ultimate test of one’s endurance, think again! The concept of Ultra-Marathon has been relatively unknown to the urban nature of India’s marathon calendar. Covering 1480 km and six states in 20 days, the Great India run is all set to pit the country’s fittest athletes against foreign opposition, in an attempt to accelarate the ultra-marathon trend.

The race will be held across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi. International level ultra marathon runners in David Bredo and Yuri Esperson will also participate, giving Indian runners an exposure like no other.

Pro Sportify conceptualised the ultra-marathon notion, executing it as a city based exposure event. The property is a joint effort between startup MobieFit and Pro Sportify, who are aiming to create an endurance running ecosystem for India.

COO of MobieFit Technologies, Utkarsh Veer Singh spoke about the growth of the sport. He said, “When the IPL began, we hardly had 4-5 running events in India. Now if you see we have almost 400. We were overwhelmed with entries and it was heartening to see India’s progress towards a fitness culture. We are not solely restricted to Ultra marathon, other runs are also there. But, our focus is on growing this particular sport.”

He added, “In marathons, one just has to run 42 km, but in ultra-marathon one needs 80 km. Hence, you will see most of the world’s ultra marathon runners are not from Africa as it requires a different skill set, as compared to designated long distance running. The idea is to show that the 50 runners can do it and we as a country can look towards a fitter future.”

The run offers a chance for amateurs to test their mettle. Apart from the daunting 80 km run, there are shorter versions such as the 2 km, 5 km and 21 km run (half marathons) for community engagement. 

Utkarsh added, “I’ve been a professional endurance athlete myself, so I know about the benefits of this sport. Indians aren’t looked up as healthy people, but I assure you that we can be. After the right sponsorship and micro-payments, were able to highlight the effort required in endurance running. We have 97 foreign entries, which highlights how the landscape is also adding to the attraction.”

The event will be held between July 10 – July 30 in New Delhi, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Celebrity runners Milind Soman and Gul Panag will flag off the event, in an attempt to highlight the sport’s growth in India.

The growth of the Great India Run as an established calendar event, is firmly legitimising India as a an Ultra Marathon running stalwart.

Sports journalist, dream to see India at the pinnacle of the sporting landscape one day.
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