Spirit triumphs: 1,000 brave chill, run for fun & fitness in Delhi-NCR | Gurgaon News

GURUGRAM: Here’s a run that can prepare you for the world’s great marathons and ultramarathons. It is so eagerly awaited that not even Covid could stand in the way. “In both years, 2021 and 2022, we had a window when the wave was less, so we could Trail-a-Thonalbeit on a smaller scale and with everyone’s safety in mind,” reveals Umesh Guptathe event’s co-founder and co-organizer.
On a cold and cloudy January morning, with the threat of rain hanging in the air, nearly 1,000 people from Gurugram and across the NCR turned up at a spot along the Southern Peripheral Road for some Sunday excitement and competition. “We start together and in a spirit of fun, but then things get serious!” Prachi Garg shared, part of a foursome who always stay close; among her fellow runners are brother Saurabh Garg, Dr. Bharat Singh and Sunil Uke.
“We covered all distances, participated in runs ranging from 1km to 72km,” said the soon-to-be septuagenarian Uke. “We enjoy the way the route challenges our bodies, because you run on ground that is gravel and stony, you run in the middle of the wilderness. And it’s a stretch where you find something new every time.”
The Teleperformance Trail-a-Thon is a team effort, and the enthusiasm and camaraderie shown by running groups from across the region—collectives like Aravali Trail Blazers—is hard to miss. Participants can register for any of the 7km, 14km, 28km, 56km or 84km runs (with a 5km ‘nature walk’ added this time).
Hemant Beniwal is a regular Trail-a-Thon because it gives him a chance to breathe, to escape everyday Gurugram, “a road race that is like a rat race”. He ran 28 km in an unhurried 2 hours 30 minutes. “Here you come to nature, where the terrain changes with every step, sometimes downhill and sometimes uphill. Then you meet species of birds while running – it’s like therapy,” he told TOI. For the many who are tired of their urbanized surroundings, the Trail-a-Thon offers visual and mental relief. “It’s a 14km loop down to Damdama Lake that allows you to take in the Aravalli range. Because people don’t realize the jungle that exists outside their city,” adds Beniwal, who last year both ran the Boston and Chicago marathons.
Binay Sah trod this route for the fifth time. For an athlete who has represented India in the 100 km World Championships in Croatia (2018) and 24 Hour World Championships in France (2019) – both organized by the International Association of Ultrarunners – the Trail-a-Thon is the ideal training to participate taking in blue-ribbon events such as the New Delhi Marathon, which is planned for February.
Sah, who ran 28km on Sunday, started running in 2016, inspired by his son. “The life-changing moment for me came when I participated in the Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 2017,” he shared. “Based on my performance there, I have been selected for the 2018 100km World Championships.” By the way, the Comrades Marathon covers a distance of about 89 km between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and is recognized as the world’s oldest and most prestigious ultramarathon. Sah’s journey from the Aravallis to KwaZulu-Natal was a long but fulfilling one.
Also part of the Sunday crowd was Gurugram DC Nishant Kumar Yadav, who ran the 7 km in 42 minutes. In a city known for its dedication to fitness, the Trail-a-Thon is one calendar date that will always be embraced.