[Photograph by Priyanka Oberoi]
The sixth edition of La Ultra—The High concluded recently. In running circuits, it is the kind of run that is spoken of in hushed tones. Because this is, without a doubt, the cruelest run in the world. What does that mean?
It means participants choose to run in one of three categories in the Himalayas. The least one can run is 111 kilometers. If you manage that, you shift to 222 kilometers and finally to 333 kilometers. Each of these phases has to be completed within 24 hours. The final cut off time for the run is 72 hours.
Only the most elite athletes in the world make the cut. This, because they run in the harshest conditions known to man where they start at 17,4000 feet above sea level, temperatures fluctuate widely between -10 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius. Oxygen levels can be as low as 40 percent of sea level and runners are advised to expect heady winds, rain, snow and ice without warning.
The athletes who participated in this year’s edition could well have been part of any Olympics Team line up. They are high performers. One of Founding Fuel’s mandates is to understand what makes higher performers tick. That is why Charles Assisi, co-founder & director at Founding Fuel engaged Dr Rajat Chauhan, race director or La Ultra and participants from the run to understand what drives them. One consistent answer emerged. All of the battles are fought in the head.
Assisi came back sobered and wiser after having taken home lessons worth a lifetime. Extracts from the conversation held at the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in New Delhi can be viewed here.