“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world” — George Washington Carver.
It all started in May 2007, with a bunch of enthusiastic runners telling Runners For Life that we should use our years of experience of conducting fortnightly runs to organize an Ultramarathon. The first in the country. The idea fired the imagination, of course!
Plans were on, full swing. A core group of runners were meeting weekly, to discuss the future of this Ultramarathon. Madhu Avasarala, the man behind the idea commented, “We need a full-fledged training run. One month before the Ultra. In similar trail conditions. Tougher terrain than the Ultra. So it serves as a great training run.”
Jugy, our secret weapon and Lord of the Trails responded, “You should try this trail along the Kaveri that the Hash guys have run on. It’s beautiful.”
And just like that, Kaveri Trail Marathon was born.
The Hash guys got us the first RFL event t-shirt. The white KTM 2007 tee. With sponsorship from Atkins. Runner and designer, Athreya Chidambi came up with the logo – an Egret, since the route went close to the Rangathittu Bird Sanctuary. And we were set!
Over 150 runners left Bangalore, bleary eyed, at 2 am from MG Road, travelled the distance by bus, stopped at Fort View for a loo break and on to the trail. Uncharacteristically, for an RFL run, we started a few minutes late. Mainly because we were waiting for one of the buses, which had a flat tyre, to catch up.
Families of team RFL volunteered to get the event going – so we had mums, dads, siblings and spouses handing out water, cleaning up litter, setting up umbrellas, handing out first aid… it was truly a wonderful community experience.
The run was flagged off by the RFLers. Distances offered: half and full marathon. Timing was done manually. No, really. College kids with pens and clipboards wrote down bib numbers and timings. And the guys would punch it into an excel sheet and publish it to the RFL Googlegroup community!
The run was murderous, to say the least. The sun was out. The few brave hearts who did the full marathon were heroes.
We headed back to Fort View Resorts, for brunch. The Hash guys had beer on tap for those who fancied it.
Once back, there was fighting among runners to be the first to come home and write about their race experience on the Googlegroup. There were photoblogs capturing the beauty of the trail – Sudhir Palayil’s being one of the notable ones.
We decided that people loved KTM as much as they loved the Ultra. And that it deserved to be up there as a separate event. So, we decided, the third Sunday in September will always be the KTM date. 270 participants. Addition of 10k to the distances run. Timing was manual. Some of the volunteers from the previous year’s Ultra ran.
By now, we had tons of people writing evocatively and taking stunning pictures of the event –Sudhir, Manoj Bhat, D, Anita Bora… all poured out post run creativity online and really helped cement cult status for KTM.
Over 700 participants. Suddenly, the pre-race pasta party was less of “Hi, how are you? All set? What timing are you hoping for?” and “hail-fellow-well-met” camaraderie to hesitant and shy “Hi. What’s your name? Have you been running long?” kind of interactions.
The race saw relatively mellow weather. People were shocked to see the sun disappeared for large parts of time. And made the most of it! Since then, runners hope for lovely, sun-less, breezy weather. But Kaveri has not yet obliged.
Suffice to say, Kaveri Trail Marathon has gotten bigger and better every year. It has been oversubscribed to, the past 3 years, with as many runners as the course can handle.
We hope to keep the glorious history of KTM going from strength to strength… with a little help from our running friends.
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