Everesting Run Challenge 2021 – Memoirs

Ultra-marathons (Long distance running) are special events which generally require the active engagement of volunteers to ensure that the participants will receive the requisite support while they are running. And if the event is really challenging, the expectations from the volunteers increases. This time it was no different.

Five super strong runners (Coach Manish, Queeny, Mez, Narendra Ranawat, Prashant Rane) from our running group, Snails2Bolt, decided to challenge their limits, both physical and mental, by participating in ‘Everesting Run Challenge’ – an event wherein the participant must run on an incline for as long as he/she is able to cover an altitude equivalent to the height of the mighty Mt. Everest. While there is no cut off time for completion of the challenge the primary condition is that the participant will not sleep till the challenge is completed.

Such challenge required different level of volunteering. Till date, I was exposed to static volunteering in long distance running events wherein the organizer allocates a spot (typically called a station) to manage. Here we need to ensure that the runners are offered hydration, diet and/or medical support, besides cheering and motivating the runners as they approach the station. We also ensure this is done in the minimum possible time per runner. In my opinion, this is significant because the runner generally has a completion time in mind, and the volunteer is expected to satiate him faster ensuring the completion time is not impacted significantly. Unlike static volunteering, here we had diverse and unforeseen challenges to meet. Not only were the participants first timers for this kind of an event; so were the volunteers. Therefore, both of us (the runner and the volunteer) decided to enter the arena with an open mind.

The run started at 5 pm on Friday the 8th of January 2021 on the Neral Matheran route. Expectedly, we all were super-excited. We were super nervous too! We were supposed to witness history in the making. Generally, these events are never expected to be linear. Although we were prepared for valleys before the peaks; we never thought in our wildest dream what was in store for us. During the night, we had three runners (Prashant Rane, Queeny, Narendra Ranawat) quitting due to cramps and reasons alike. We all had respect for them for accepting and preparing strenuously for such a daunting challenge. There is no harm in admitting this was just not their day. More respect for them due to the fact that they respected and listened to their bodies. We have seen runners ignoring similar messages being sent by the body which, in the past, has led to fatalities. However, all three were mature enough to understand that there is always a second chance available. They are all the strongest runners in the group and one terrible day cannot negate the credits earned by them over time.

Now we had only two in the contention – Manish and Mez. Manish was running extraordinarily strong and he made us believe that he was aiming at something gigantic. Mez is a strong girl but sleep deprivation can test anyone, any time. Since I was majorly with Mez as her crew, I will be sharing my experiences with her during the event. My sincere apologies for the limited sharing. 

Although, she started at 5.20 pm on the 8th January evening, I joined her, as per my schedule, on 9th January at 5 am. By this time, she had completed her 6th Loop. For readers, one loop comprises of 6.7 kms, gaining an elevation of approximately 670 mts and they were required to complete 14 loops to clock the desired elevation. Lack of sleep started impacting her. In fact, she had started sleep walking in the 6th loop. A change in strategy was necessary. Ashish, Nitin, and I decided that someone needs to accompany her while she was on the ascent.  We decided that at no point would she be left alone. We realized that our role as volunteers would have to change from this point onwards. Now we needed multiple hats for multitasking. From a run-buddy to a physio, from a mentor to an entertainer, from a supporting crew to a motivator we needed to perform every single task to help her reach the Hall of Fame. Ashish, Babloo, Mufy, Mukesh, Nitin, Sushil, Umakant, Vivek Ruia, and others ensured that Mez got the requisite support. Even Rochelle came down from Mumbai and walked 3 kms with her. (Note: Please excuse me if I have forgotten any names here)

Mez was on a roller coaster ride. Several times, she was on the verge of quitting. Somehow, she kept at it. Mental toughness, in my opinion in not about showing a strong face always. It is also about coming out of your weakness in the shortest possible time and ensuring you do not lose focus to the extent of dropping out. Mez proved to be a tough nut. Her physio, Rohit did a fabulous job and ensured she was given the right therapy after every descent. This kept her moving with renewed energy and freshness.

After the 10th loop, we started gaining the conviction that we will be creating history. The next loop was completed in 1 hour and 48 minutes. Hereafter we ensured that there will be two volunteers accompanying her. Anxieties were back and our blood pressure rose as the 12th loop took longer than expected. Besides, her body temperature came down when she reached the base camp, and she was shivering. Would she do it?

This question made us all pray. After the descent, when she was assisted by Rohit the physio, we realized that her health was not in optimal condition. This is where Dr Smitha pitched in with her guidance on diet and medicines. This worked as a magic wand and did the trick. The 12th loop was done and dusted in 2 hours and 4 minutes and 13th in 1 hour and 48 minutes. The feat was now in sight. It was a matter of holding on for some more time. Dr. Smitha ensured she was awake all night in Mumbai for any kind of medical assistance required. Not only Dr. Smitha, but Mez’s family, many Snails2Bolt members and well-wishers were awake in the excitement. Majority of the volunteers reached to cheer her, to impress upon her that everyone was there to support her and witness the moment of truth.

Our coach Manish too ensured he was there with her. This was specifically commendable since he himself was fatigued by a record creating run wherein, he had shaved off a massive 13 hours (approx.) from the earlier record. But everyone was hooked to the finish line – a line that will culminate the strenuous, nerve wrecking journey into the crowning glory.

Finally, we were in the final Lap which was completed in 1 hour 42 minutes. Such was the build up to this record creating feat that we had maximum members of our Snails2Bolt family there with her either on their legs or in the car or on phone waiting for the breaking news. Everyone trying to ensure that they all become witness to the historical accomplishment.

And it happened at around 4 am on Sunday morning when we had Mez crossed the finishing line both with a smile and a sense of relief. She became THE FIRST FEMALE FROM INDIA TO SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE EVERESTING RUN!

History was made!

Before embarking on my journey of being a part of this effort which, I had posted in a messaging group – ‘trying to be part of a historic moment before I become history’. And I am happy to be part of this moment! Being a part of such an amazing feat will be etched in my memory forever.

This event and the feat would not have been possible without the selfless support of several members who worked behind the scenes and did all the initial preparations. We, also had everyone: members, volunteers and the runners remaining awake till the last moment. While we missed the three runners who were unfortunate that day a special applause for Narendra Ranawat and Queeny for encouraging Mez at the thirteenth loop. In fact, Narendra Ranawat ensured his presence even at the last moment despite having cramps. I would also pray for speedy recovery of Prashant who is under medication at this moment.

Finally, some people succeed because they are destined to and some succeed because they are determined to. We saw both destiny and determination getting personified by Manish and Mez. May they be blessed with more accomplishments. Amen!  

Published by Vivek Damani

Vivek is a personal finance expert with 27 years plus experience in the field of personal finance. He is also a passionate long-distance runner and loves to have a balanced approach thereby leading a joyful life.

2 thoughts on “Everesting Run Challenge 2021 – Memoirs

  1. Nice Article , Congratulate to MZ to achieved this. Its inspiration for us also. Push your limit will surely give you result .Many congratulation to coach Manish who always stand for to achieving your goal. Congratulation to all volunteer for remarkable job.


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