Ran the Kaveri Trail Marathon on 20th September after a gap of 5 years and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have not been a regular at this race - now in it's 9th edition - having run it only 3 times before : HM in the 1st edition in 2007, a FM in 2008 as part of my 12 marathon in 12 months and a 58K in 2010 as training for 75K at that year's Bangalore Ultra. So I excitedly looked forward to participating this year. Apart from the thrill of running the wonderful trail the anticipation was also due to this being my first race of the 2015-16 season and the first race since SCMM in January 2015. Having been plagued with some injury/pain or other since December 2013 I was looking to this race to regain self-confidence . However, having recently recovered from a pain in the right hip(lower abdomen, near the bone) and still having a dull pain just below the inner left knee I decided against racing hard.(Running too fast and/or too long too soon increases the probability of injury and almost certainly was the primary cause of my prolonged injury woes). My goal was to complete under 2 hrs. So I was extremely satisfied that my left knee held up well during the run and I managed a time of 1:53:33 without pushing too hard And to top it I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt (after reaching home) that I ended up being 1st in my age category. This was because the faster runners of my age group did not run the race or ran the FM.
Chandru (my brother) and I left Bangalore around 2:45 PM on Saturday afternoon and after a couple of stops enroute, to take care of some personal work, we reached Wild Orchids resort - our hotel by about 6:30PM. After freshening up quickly we reached Greens Hotel for the RFL pasta party by about 7:30PM. It was nice to interact with runners and current and past RFL'ers. After a sumptuous pasta dinner (during which there was an interesting quiz) we returned back to the hotel by about 9PM. While I collected my bib at the dinner unfortunately RFL forgot to get my brother's bib to the dinner. We slept around 9:45PM with the plan of getting to the venue by 5:45am - well in time to collect the bib.
I slept quite well and woke up at 4:45 am just before my alarm was about to go off. Though the hotel was just 7 Kms from the race start point and we got there by 5:45am it took us time to walk up to the start point after parking our car. We reached there just in time to see the FM get flaggged off at 6am. Realising that the bib needed to be collected from the help desk in the holding area in Ozone resorts we quickly rushed there. It was a good 10 minutes walk away - so I jogged there which also served a a warm up for me. After collecting the bib we were back at the start point by 6:20am.
The race was flagged off just after 6:30am - being in the middle of the pack of about 800 runners it took me about 40 seconds to cross the start line. After a couple of hundred meters I broke from the crowd of runners and for some reason took off. After about a Km or so when crossing a couple of familiar runners I realised I was running too fast and slowed down a bit. However, I felt quite good and quite comfortably maintained an average pace between 5:18 and 5:21 per Km. The trail seemed to be a bit broader and less uneven from what I remembered from the previous years. Of course the Km leading up to the turnaround point was narrow and uneven - had to run quite carefully. As always the weather was pleasant when the race started - however as the sun came out it started to warm up. With the river flowing one one side and the fields on the other the shade cover is very sparse on the trail. However the trail was as beautiful as ever.
In the return lap it became quite warm but at no point I felt uncomfortable or dehydrated. In fact I felt so good that Kms 13 to 17 were my fastest with pace between 5:08 and 5:14. Knowing that I was comfortably on target to finish within 2 hours and would likely finish in sub 1:55 I eased of a bit and crossed the finish line in just under 1:54. It was great to see some of the other runners - Athreya(FM), Sid(FM), Rachel(FM), Dharam(HM) blazing the trail and finishing their races in amazing timings. Austin had a good race finishing about a minute behind me. Chandru though did not have best of races and finished in about 2:33 - one of his slower times.
After hanging around in the finish area for some time we walked to the holding area and had breakfast which(IMHO) was quite decent. We then went back to the hotel had a quick shower and left for Bangalore around 11:30. After a break at Kamat for tea and snack reached home by about 3:45.
The race organisation was good as usual - the aid stations were well stocked and the Km markers were clear and prominent. Parking of cars was also handled smoothly. The breakfast area should have had hand wash kiosks. However, the biggest mess up was with the timings. The release of timings was delayed almost a week and then too it was incorrect or incomplete for several runners showing gun time and chip time to be same. Also there were no split timings which was a big disappointment for several runners specially relative new runners. Given that RFL has been doing this for many years now and there are lots of other choices for runners in terms of events RFL will need to work hard to recover the lost goodwill due to this mess up with the timings.