May 1st 2013
A2: Hey Nishant, here’s the trail *points at Google Maps* – it’s quite narrow and as you may have noticed any sign of civilization is some distance away. There are about 2000 runners expected across two days. Exit points along the way are few and far between, so be careful with the medical facilities and the Aid Station material. By the way, there’s not too much space near the start point, so we’ll have to set base at Young Island, and they serve some bad food man. Oh and we’ve had bullock carts and sugar cane trucks block our route in the past. Yea..and apart from last year, we haven’t broken even financially. Did I mention that it’s generally hot..really hot!
Nishant: *Looks baffled* But A2, I was actually planning to run my first marathon this year..
Thus began the Kaveri Trail Marathon 2013! Charan was roped in as second in command, our Infra, Comms and Design team was informed of the job at hand and registrations went live – 100 within the first hour!
If you spend two years with Runners For Life, you end up knowing the good, the bad and the ugly of every race on the Indian marathon calendar. For an event organizer, the KTM would probably lean towards the bad and the ugly side. The folks at RFL pride themselves on being able to organize tough races (Bangalore Ultra anyone?) and that mentality definitely percolated down to yours truly. The fact that the KTM was my first experience with RFL and would be my last, combined with the sheer beauty of that route made the decision to take on the project a rather easy one.
One of the major benefits of organizing the KTM is that you get a day out of the office once in a few weeks under the pretext of “permissions and route recce.” While obtaining these permissions, meeting vendors and mapping the area is no mean feat, it does also mean two meals at MTR Shivalli (a must try!). The area in and around Srirangapatna is an absolutely gorgeous mix of agriculture, river and wildlife and it is a welcome break from city life.
The organization process can be frantic – t-shirt designs not coming on time, bus costs going through the roof and the inevitable tension about the quality of the food. But when your website turns out like what you, dear reader, are looking at or you see the 200+ likes for a picture of the route it seems worth it. For RFL, the KTM isn’t just a marathon..it’s an experience and transferring that to the runners is what we strive to do – that’s the fun part!
Come Race Day(s), monitoring the adrenalin levels of the RFLers would make for an interesting graph methinks. Our Show-Flow excel file runs into the MBs – and coordinating and executing all of it effectively means months of planning and iterations. Setting -up Aid stations, marking the route, transporting runners, ensuring clean toilets, taking care of medical emergencies, getting hot food on the plate and cleaning up the route – means that most of us are on our toes from 2 AM to 2 PM..and that’s just day 1. Our only hope is that runners appreciate this – it’s an Ultra Marathon of it’s own.
Despite this, we’re the first to admit that we do goof up. Yes, day 1 of bib distribution was a mess – an all-nighter was pulled to ensure that the next two days went smoothly. Yes, the timings were off initially on day 1 – everything was rectified and live by 4 PM the same day. Yes, being foodies ourselves it hurts to know that some of you’ll didn’t get food on day 1 – but did anyone notice the months of trial that went into ensuring that the food was the best the KTM has ever had? A 6 hour debrief on the Monday after the race will ensure that next year’s race will only be better, we take our mistakes very seriously.
As Race Director, it’s quite a helpless feeling at the end when you want to thank everyone. This mail (insert mail) will give you an idea of the number of people involved behind the scenes – it takes a team and a half to get the job done and boy am I thankful for the one I was part of. What really gives me a happy kick though is the average feedback score of 4.6/5 for overall race experience! And while we haven’t laughed our way to the bank – a modest profit was made that will go back into making next year’s race even better. I’ve been fortunate to ride a wave of success that was created 7 years ago.
I’m now off to try and create that wave for a sport dearer to me – Rugby, look out for Bangalore Rugby in the months to come (my attempt at free publicity). Organising the KTM was truly an “experience”, the perfect swansong. I’ll surely be back next year though – on the other side of the Styx!
KTM 2013 Race Director, Rugby Fanatic, Foodie, Very Large
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