We catch up with IT Specialist and vegan marathoner, Rajat Wadhwa, as he has recently completed his 42km run at Ladakh Marathon 2019, one of the world’s toughest and highest marathons held at 3,500m above sea level.
Please share details about your preparations for Ladakh Marathon 2019.
I arrived just 2 days prior to the run. No preps as such; just been doing 41km 3 weeks ago in Navi Mumbai hill areas and tapered it down to 30km and in the last week, I did only 15km. This gave my body time to recover and gear up for the next big run.
How and when did you decide to participate in this run?
I got to hear about this marathon around a month ago, and by then registrations had closed. When I followed up with the organizers, they asked me to arrive 7 days earlier to acclimatize and check for spot registrations. I couldn’t go that early due to work commitments and reached 2 days before the run. I landed at the organizer’s office, and to my luck, I overheard some people wanting to cancel one registration due to no show by their friend. I instantly approached them and they agreed to sell that to me, and voila! I got registered.
What have you been eating? Any special diet before the run?
I relished the local veganized delicacies, which are considered as superfoods like Khambir (wheat bread) and Chu Taki (noodles made from local grain). Then, a day prior, I enjoyed 10 apples plucked from a tree and local fresh greens & leafy veggies, carrots and turnips (all raw). Also, I had a handful of cashews and almonds. This was followed by intermittent fasting (IF) for almost 24 hours, till the time of the run. The IF helped clear up my system.
What did you eat during the run?
Just before the run, I had one green smoothie. And during the run, I had the pulp of about 10 mangoes carried along in 2 half-litre bottles. I did not have any Gatorade or Electral. Also, no salt or any other supplements or food taken. I did not even consume any gel that sportspersons usually depend on during such runs.
How did you acclimatize yourself for the run?
Didn’t get time for a practise run. Instead, I directly landed up at the marathon. I slowed down run-walks to acclimatize during first 5-10k to catch my breath; while adjusting my breath to thin air. Then, I got used to it.
What was the toughest part about the experience?
The thin air led to breathlessness. The harsh cold weather in early morning hours, followed by very hot sun in the high altitude mountainous desert terrain. The series of high elevation gains and drops and rollercoaster routes. Nearing the end, after 38km was toughest last 4km, which was literally a straight ascent up the mountain!
What were the other factors that made the run more challenging?
In the morning, it was cold with the temperature around 8-deg C, with the wind chill factor. Also, I wore slippers during the marathon because after bare-foot running, these are best suited for long distance runs. Shoes are uncomfortable for me as they are usually tapering at the front and the soles get hot during long distance marathons.
Rajat Wadhwa’s Event Specs
Running Time: 06:23:07
Distance Run: 42.1km
Average Pace 09:05
Average Speed 6.61kmph
8th Edition Of Ladakh Marathon 2019
Runners from India and around the world will run through a high mountain desert region, once a central stop on the historic Silk Route between Central Asia and India. The various races take place in and around Leh, the historic capital of Ladakh and offers runners stunning vistas of mountains, rivers and valleys and will leave you with lifelong memories and a chance to say you ran Ladakh, the world’s highest marathon.
Rajat Wadhwa @ Ladakh Marathon 2019
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(Video & Images Courtesy: Rajat Wadhwa)