The Trail that made me a man

People who are in the Ultrarunning circuit, say 1 thing " Distance is just a number"
Ultra running is 15% physical and 85% mental.

That mental fortitude, physical strength and never die spirit is tested most in the Bhatti Lakes Ultra.

I have done the race twice. 50k in 2013 (even before I ran a marathon, details here) and a 100k in 2014.
Those 2 races gave me more experience than any race I have ever done, built more character than anything ever has and taught me lessons on never giving up.

There were 3 things which were common in the races I ran in Bhatti :
1. I had no clue how to run the distance I signed up for.
2. I had no idea of things that can go wrong when you run for such a distance.
3. I was late at the start line, both times. (Sorry Kavitha mam :( )

The trail, is one my most favorite places in the world to hangout. For a person seeking to clear his mind from the worldly noise, this trail is place to be.

Yes I am in love with this trail. Yes this love is blind. The amount of time I must've spent thinking "Why am I doing this" especially doing the 2 Ultras here is clearly a contradiction of my post race feeling of  "Can't wait for next year!".

For starters, and trust me, this trail is unforgiving and tough. And humid. And has big thorns. And sand. And rocks. But terrain is not even half of it. The rolling hills, the elevation and the sudden drop (as soon as you cross the boulders along Lake Bhardawaj), it seems fun in the 1st loop. When you have been going on for 5 hours and those rocks crush your feet from beneath, you begin to squirm.

But I love this place.

People who are doing this race this year, for the 1st time. A few things to keep in mind :


Keep telling yourself its 10 kms one way.
The trail will take you through a journey.
The 1st km on tarred road with some rocks strewn on the way.
As soon as you leave the tarred roads and trail begins, take care that you don't roll your foot on the rocks.

There will be a cowshed and a gate, at 2.5 kms.
That gate is a source of joy to the eyes of every runner searching for the finish line.
My past 2 attempts, were based on this gate. This gate meant "let's get the party started".

From 2.5 to 7 kms, be prepared to be thrilled. (if you love pain, otherwise prepare to be steamrolled xD)

This mound of sand, where I hold the FKT for the fastest climb and where I have tried million times to emulate Kilian Jornet is the 5k point.

People traversing the Shah Peak :P

Pro Tip : Try not to climb it during the Ultra, the clock doesn't stop.
I'll satisfy your curiosity of how it looks from the top of "Shah Peak"
View from top of "Shah Peak"

A few hundred meters, a massive undulation and couple of really thorny shrubs later, you reach the 1st and the biggest lake. Lake Bhardawaj. No its not named after Arun Bhardawaj, even though he runs the trail like he owns it.

Lake Bhardawaj
You'll pass by a string a rocks, which look amazing with landscape, a cliff with a big drop and as you head downwards you'll reach the toughest part of the course.(Yes till now it was easy! Hehehe)

How do I describe it. You have to run through sand(Yes, the sand you have on the beaches in Goa), the trail is as narrow enough to inspire thinner build and the thorns start giving you high 5s.

That too shall pass. And you shall see another lake, this time to your left and trail becomes really enjoyable.

A couple of lakes later you'll see civilization. And then head back into the wilderness as you turn back.

"Do not go gentle into that good night;  Old age should burn and rave at the close of day. Rage, rage, rage against the dying of light."


I might detest the unforgiving nature of the trail, but there is something everyone should know. 
Suffering is good. 

You will suffer. There is no doubt. If you don't, you didn't do it correctly. 
Enjoy the suffering. No, i'm not being cuckoo. 

The more you suffer, the more you enjoy the spoils of victory. 

There will be moments where you want to stop. Not continue. 
While my win at the 100k last year, the 1st 40 kms were a mess. 40% of a race, on this trail, was a mess. 

I had GI issues, bad ones at that. My blood pressure shot up to 150/90 at 40 kms. The stomach hurt as I moved. My head spun. 

25 kms later, I told my brother Abhishek, "Lets run faster, i feel like I haven't even warmed up". 
My stomach had eased. BP dropped. Boy I could sprint if I felt like that. Why?
I got through the tough part. Rest was easy.

If you have the will to endure, the patience to get through the suffering, you'll see miracles.

Suffering is necessary. It taught me how to appreciate even the smallest of my victories. 


Yes, its fun to suffer. Not if you are injured.
 If you twist your foot and are beyond pain, stop. Heed it.
Don't try to sprint through the darkness. The winner isn't the guy who runs the fastest. Its the guy who slows down the least.

You'll not be a Hero if you run on a broken foot. You'll be nothing but delusional.
And even if you do, it will be curtains for the rest of your career.

Be safe. Hydrate yourself well. Eat well. Relieve yourself. 

Above all, enjoy the race. You won't find such beauty and serenity anywhere else.
PS : I would have commented on being punctual, but I was 15 minutes late to the start line in the 1st attempt, 5 minutes on the 2nd. I was even late by a minute in SCMM.

So no, i won't comment on it. I practise what I preach. But please don't be late. It eats time out of your total time attempt :P

I won't be running the Bhatti this year. I have my Ironman in Spain on the 26th of September and would be returning to India on 4th October.

I wanted to pass on whatever I could to people who are doing it this year.

This race has given me a lot and I want to give back.
Hopefully, I run again next year, in the arms of my old friend : The Asola Bhati Forest.

Have a good race everyone.


  1. Thank you, Arunaabh, for your account of the trail! Captured everything about it and more! We will share it with all the Globearcers.

  2. "The winner isn't the guy who runs the fastest. Its the guy who slows down the least".

    Festina lente as the French say "Hurry slowly"
    This applies in every sphere of life

    very well written dear. Keep running and keep writing.

  3. Loved reading this Arunaabh:)Now,I'm more looking forward to my 50k there come October:)
    So is the Shah Peak named after you?;)Trying to emulate Killian Jornet.....naiiice:))
    All the best for your Ironman! Am sure you'll achieve your target time!

  4. Loved your article the way you draw the picture of trail with your expressions and sceneries,as well this may guide the newcomers about the difficulties and beauty of this trail.
    Nice, keep up writing such informative/ interesting things,We love your writing as well Running Cheers


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