What is Adventure Running
Adventure running, also called ‘trail running’ and ‘mountain running’, is a form of running that usually takes places over large distances and across challenging – and varied – terrain (flat or undulating, usually the latter) such as sand, tarmac, dirt tracks, mud, grass and mountain trails. This, then, is a solitary activity that’s ideal for the wilderness, one which allows the adventure runner to access places otherwise unreachable.
Among the challenges an adventure runner is likely to face are high altitudes, snow, temperatures both high and low, and crossing rivers. Trail running, meanwhile, involves running or hiking over trails, usually in mountains, and incorporating a fair amount of ascending and descending.
History of Adventure Running
Adventure running is a relatively recent activity. It has almost always been about man testing his endurance, pushing himself to the limit in adverse conditions (atmospheric and ground). Adventure running is still very much a solo endurance challenge, but while the activity is, by and large, non-competitive, recent years have seen an increase in the number of races, with more and more adventure runners the world over pounding surfaces that combine rugged appeal with picturesque charm.
Ultra marathons such as the Marathon Des Sables, held across the Moroccan stretch of the Sahara Desert (and described as the “Toughest Footrace on Earth”) make up the extreme end of adventure running. Among some of the more well-known races are the ‘Great Wall Marathon’ (China), the ‘Big Five Marathon’ (in the company of wildlife, in the savannahs of South Africa), the ‘Great Tibetan Marathon’ (Ladakh) and the ‘Polar Circle Marathon’ (Greenland). There’s also the iconic Land’s End to John O’Groats race in Britain.
Adventure Running in India
Adventure running is a niche adventure sport in India, restricted to a diehard band of enthusiasts. Ladakh, up north, is where most races are held.
A sturdy pair of shoes – if you’re running on a soft surface, wear shoes that have less cushion. For harder surfaces, like tarmacked roads, go for shoes that have more ‘give’ and cushion. If you’re running on snow or ice, attaching crampons to your shoes would give you better grip. Also pack a tent and a sleeping bag (and sleeping pad).
Best Season in India
Barring extreme climatic conditions (winters in the Tibetan Plateau in Ladakh, summers in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, monsoon season across India), adventure running is best enjoyed when it’s cold (but not too cold) and hot (but not too hot) – if physical challenges are what you’re looking for!
Adventure Running Sites in India
Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir)
Don’t run more than your body is capable of withstanding – take frequent rest, particularly if the weather is uncooperative, or the terrain unforgiving. If you’re taking part in an ultra-marathon, it’s best advised to take a complete days’ rest (or more). Carry plenty of water (a hydration pack is recommended for longer days), food, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant and (very essential) a first-aid kit. You’ll likely be passing through eye-catching locales so do carry a camera with you. Before setting out, familiarize yourself with the topography by mapping out your route – this will help you memorize small details, like the placement of water bodies. Make sure you’re regularly (and accurately) updated with the local weather. Lastly, a protein-rich diet (and plenty of fruit and veg) will keep you ticking over!
Because you’re likely to encounter challenging weather conditions and terrain (especially if you’re participating in an endurance race or an ultra-marathon), you need to be super-fit to last the distance. Plenty of training in the gym (before) and regular massages (during) will help you build up core strength and maintain stamina.
You’re going to be running across and through some spectacular landscapes, more than a few of which are part of delicate bionetworks. Respect the environment around you, and do make sure that you leave as little trace as possible.