New Delhi: Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Commandant Mukesh Kumar, who recently participated in the Comrades Ultra Marathon 2022 in South Africa, said he cannot express his feelings how he felt blessed to put the Indian national flag on his shoulders at foreign land.
The Comrades Ultra Marathon started in 1921 after the first World War in South Africa with the tagline ‘ultimate human race’. Since inception, every year this gruelling race is organised alternately down (Pietermaritzburg to Durban) and up (Durban to Pietermaritzburg) run. This year’s edition was the down run for 90 km.
Commandant Kumar while narrating his journey, explained how he made it to the Comrades Ultra Marathon overcoming various obstacles. “The ‘Ultimate Human Race’ being a dream run for every distance runner, requires a year-long very high level of training, coaching, appropriate diet, discipline, and rest.
However, my situation was a bit different. My deployment in the highly sensitive zone of Kashmir left me with the only option of occasional self-training. The ultimate responsibility of a commander in an action-packed theatre reinforced my resolve to train harder for the race. My passion for the race connected me with great motivator.
David Gogin (toughest living being on the planet) for training. Learnt a lot from him through facebook and Instagram,” he said.
The Commandant said he had qualified for this race in 2020 but it was postponed due to Covid 19.
Notification with fresh qualifying time was released this year and I was able to register for the race by running my record time Marathon run in Jaipur this March, he added.
“After getting all clearance from the organisers I took leave and reached Durban. I had a chance to meet all the world class athletes. To my utter dismay, I found myself, through my interaction with them to be seriously lacking in quality training, but my confidence was at its peak, which I attained through the training I endured at my place of posting,” Commandant Kumar, who is posted in Jammu and Kashmir said.
Talking about his participation in the marathon, he said, “On the race day, I boarded a bus at about 0200 hrs for PMB from Durban expo and reached the venue. More than 1,6000 participants were rubbing shoulders to compete with each other. There were eight sections, A to H. B section has the disadvantage of starting late by a couple of minutes. The race started on time. I was in the B section behind A section. This marathon was on gun to gun shot. Approximately two km of my run I got pushed by a fellow runner due to the crowd of runners, and I fell down, someone trampled on me but somehow I managed to stand up and resume running.”
The first cut off time of 2 hours 40 minute was covered by me within one hour and then on I just cruised
ahead with the ever-enthusing cheers from the crowd, he said.
“Donning the T shirt with our national flag was an eternal inspiration for me. Spectators could see my name on the bottom of my T-shirt. Cheering sound of ‘India India, Come on India’ was all the staple food for my run and I kept on adding mile after mile to the distance I covered. The pride I experienced when the crowd was cheering with my name and my country’s name is beyond any expression. Reaching at Durban stadium was a
magical experience for me with a jam-packed stadium and that provided the ultimate push to me to hit the radiant. An unparalleled experience overall,” the Commandant said.
He further said, “It was a tough race than others races as the tagline says ‘Ultimate Human Race’. I felt blessed to put the Indian national flag on my shoulders at foreign land and can’t express my feelings in words. It was an amazing experience which I dedicated to cancer patients.”
He expressed gratitude to Commandant Indrani Yadav and Nilesh Bajaj who made his pre-event stay comfortable at Mumbai, besides to his organisation which stood behind his passion and gave him the chance to participate in this ultra marathon.