The 24 Hour Stadium Run, a qualification event for the IAU 24 Hour World Ultra Marathon Championship in France in October, got off to a rousing start at the Mumbai University track here on a rainy Saturday evening.
Four of India’s top runners are attempting to qualify for the gruelling France event, with Rajasthan’s Lallu Lal Meena and Yamini Kothari among the favourites to make it. They and many other prominent Indian runners, numbering close to 1,000, were cheered on as the Run began sharp at 6pm.
“I have a great chance of qualifying for the worlds,” said experienced runner L.L. Meena. “I have done it in the past and I am quite confident of making it there once. The criteria for qualification is 205 kms and I have come with a target of 220 kms. I am also attempting to run for 23 hours straight and if my body permits I will do 24 hours without any break.”
“The event provides a great platform and acts as a prelude to the worlds. I would use this event to stretch and assess myself. The temperature here and in France is quite different and it is very conducive for this kind of run. So if I could do 220 km here I could very well do 240-250 in France.”
Organised by NEB Sports, this gruelling event, which sets the tone for the Athletics Federation of India-approved IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon 2019 in August, has attracted over 1,000 determined participants and 200+ teams who competed in the Relay Run on Saturday.
Yamini too appeared very excited and said her target was to run for 22 hours at least. “This event is tough but we prepare for it round the year. It requires planning and strategising. I am very excited to be a part of it and I am targeting the worlds,” said Yamini.
Shibani Gharat, Apeksha Shah, Priyanka Bhat and Deviprasad Shetty are among the other popular runners who are in action during the weekend.
“We are delighted to see a manifold jump in the number of participants in this highly popular event,” Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer, IDBI Federal Life Insurance said. “This is the ultimate test of a human being’s spirit and endurance and we hope to see our stars qualifying for the World Ultra Marathon Championship,” he added.
Nagaraj Adiga, Race Director said, “We are seeing a growing interest in the sport of ultra-running with an increasing number of runners taking part in stadium runs across the country. The stadium runs also help dedicated ultra-runners train and qualify for international meets. At the fourth edition of the 24 Hours Stadium Run in Mumbai this weekend, we are look to provide the best possible support to the runners, many of whom are aiming to achieve their best-ever mileage.”
The Ultra marathoners, cheered on by fans and friends in a carnival-like atmosphere, will target to cover the maximum distance over the 24 hours to be crowned the winners. The top men clock close to 200 kilometres during this period while the women touch about 170 km.
A unique and novel contest, the 24-hour Stadium Run will test the endurance as well as mental and physical abilities of athletes as they embark on this momentous journey.
Much like the famous Le Mans auto race in France, it will require the runners to be on the go for 24 hours with occasional stops. The event has four categories: 24-hr Individual, 12-hr Individual, 12-hr Open Team Relay and the 12-hr Corporate Team Relay.
The Stadium Run will also see significant woman participation with four of them set to take part in the arduous run. This is the fourth edition of the Stadium Run, done in association with the Athletics Federation of India.
Lallu Lal Meena: A known name in Ultra Running, Lallu Lal Meena won the Hyderabad 12-Hour Stadium Run in 2017. He has represented India at various international events, including the 30th IAU 100km World Championship in Croatia last year and the IAU 24 Hour Asia and Oceania Championship held in Taipei, where the Indian’s men team achieved the third position and LL Meena clocked 192 kms.
Pranaya Mohanty: Pranaya Mohanty is a runner from Balasore and works as a software professional in Bengaluru. He has achieved success in endurance sports (both running and cycling). He has taken part in Endurance Running (10k, Half Marathons and Full Marathons) in 2017 before getting into Ultra Running in 2018.
Yamini Kothari: An experienced ultra runner, Yamini Kothari has taken part in the NEB 24 hour run in New Delhi and Bengaluru in 2018 and is a constant on the circuit.