“𝗡𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮 𝗔𝗱𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗥𝗮𝗰𝗲” – 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗮’𝘀 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝟮𝟰-𝗛𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀 𝗔𝗥𝗪𝗦 𝘼𝙎𝙄𝘼 𝙎𝙀𝙍𝙄𝙀𝙎 𝗔𝗱𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗥𝗮𝗰𝗲
‘Namma adventure race’ was organized by ‘NthAdventure’ – the team behind many adventure races in Bengaluru, but they were of shorter formats like 25km or 60km races, and this one was 130kms 24-hours race.
Adventure race is a multidisciplinary team sport, Team of 4 members is required to participate in this event. 3 men + 1 woman or 3 women + 1 man is considered as premier team and these teams will be ranked. In Namma adventure race 3 disciplines were included cycling, trail run/road run and kayaking. The best part of these adventure race is teams are not allowed to carry mobile or any gps devices and they will be given printed topographic maps, using which teams have to make their own route to reach all check points (cp’s) and complete the race. Click here to know more about adventure race.
My team VEERA KANNADIGARU are the first runner up of the first 24 hours Adventure race of India, and here is my experience of the race.
On cloud nine at finish line
It was a twilight on a Sunday morning, I was relaxing on a sun lounger made of bamboo kept on a beach side overlooking the Arabian Sea with a champagne in my hand! Kishan was sitting on to my left side and Rajashree to his left. Vijay was sleeping inside, he was tired because he drove his car all the way from Bengaluru to Mangaluru to participate in the race. Organizers and volunteers were walking around the place to make all arrangements.
As we were looking at that big Red Bull arch, setup as the finish line of the India’s first 24 hours adventure race, we saw teams sprinting on cycles to cross the finish line. We had finished our race and its around 30 minutes wait for next team to reach.
Arrival to race location
Exactly 48 hour ago me, my wife Ishwarya and daughter Diya along with Kishan, Rajashree and parents of Sayeesha (our race director) landed in Mangaluru junction railway station, after about 11 hours of night journey. Vijay had some personal emergency and he decided to stay back. Train route between Bengaluru and Mangaluru is one of the amazing train route with many tunnels and bridges constructed on western ghats. This is not the route to sleep, unfortunately our schedule made us to book night train and we were forced to sleep missing the experience which we enjoyed during our last trip to Mangaluru for participating in ‘NITK Karavali Marathon’.
From Mangaluru junction railway station we took 2 cabs to reach our hotel. After fresh up we had breakfast and started to explore the places around. We visited 2 temples ‘Shree Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bappanadu’ and ‘Shree Venkataramana Temple‘. Both the temples have their own historic background. After taking the blessings, we headed to Padubidri beach. Diya usually enjoys getting into beach but this time she was hesitant, so we decided not to waste time at beach instead go back to room and take some rest.
By this time, we received itinerary for the day and we are supposed to go to Kayak boy for briefing on kayaking, then go to race HQ, Blue Flag beach. Since the itinerary was set, we reached room to take some rest and lunch. At this point of time there was a message from Vijay, Voila, he mentioned he will be joining us in the race!!! it was so exciting that we will be competing as a 4-member premier team instead of 3 member non ranked team.
After our lunch we boarded tempo traveller to go to Kayak boy, as we reached Kayak boy, Ajita our race director was ready to welcome us, then there was a briefing from kayak experts, after which we moved to Blue flag beach, race HQ for ‘Namma Adventure Race’ to collect our race kit, race bib, transition bag and some freebies. All the mandatory race gears like helmet, head light and taillight for bike, whistles etc., were checked at this point and then we were given race booklet with details of race legs.
As soon as the race booklet was in our hands all our mind started planning for the race, what should go in transition bag 1 and bag 2, what and how much to carry in our backpack etc., mean while there was a group photo shoot with all 7 teams after this all teams assembled for opening ceremony, followed by dinner. Then we loaded our bikes to a transport vehicle which will take our bikes to starting point of bike leg. Since Vijay was on his way except his bike all other’s bikes were loaded and we headed back to room in tempo traveller.
Planning and strategy continued till midnight in our rooms. As soon as we reached room Diya slept off, Ishwarya helped me for a while and then she also slept at around 11PM. While we were discussing about our probable race routes (race maps were not distributed yet), Vijay was still driving to reach hotel, he was around 100km away. Me and Rajashree decided to take some rest, but Kishan was awake calling Vijay at regular intervals and making sure situation is under control – responsible captain.
4.5 hours to race! I woke up to a alarm at 5 in the morning, whatsapped Kishan to check the status he replied immediately, I am sure both Vijay and Kishan might have slept for max 1-2 hours, because after Vijay reaching hotel they needed to go back to race HQ to load the bike, which would have taken easily 1 hour, however it was relieving to see Vijay in hotel now we are team of 4!
Forming a team
Here, I must tell how team ‘Veera Kannadigaru’ was formed or how I joined this team. On October 22nd NthAdventure had setup a webinar on google meet to share more insights on adventure race. I attended the meeting to understand what it is and also to see if any team is looking for a team member, because on 18th October NthAdventure insta handle posted ‘Looking for a team? reach out to us’. The webinar was really good and it made me to take decision to participate in the event, soon after the webinar I mailed my details to NthAdventure to connect me to the team who might be looking for a hand.
Days passed no phones no mails, I was losing hope of participating in the event, finally on 9th of November I received call from Kishan asking if I am still interested. He had trained with some other people and it did not work out so he reached out to me, immediately I said YES. We decided to start training the same weekend, first session would be kayaking, and we decided to cycle all the way to kayaking point.
We were expecting Manoj (now captain of team Shershah) to join us so we can be 4, but he turned up with Vyshak (now team member of team Shershah), so it was evident that he was trying to form his own team. However, training on that day was completed personally I learnt lot about kayaking and at the end of day we were 3 member team!
After checking with some more profiles shared by NthAdventure team, Kishan decided his buddy from childhood who is now representing Indian indoor cricket team will be best, even though he was not active in any sports since the pandemic, Kishan mentioned never give up attitude of Vijay makes him best bet and in next running training we were ‘VEERA KANNADIGARU’
One by one all were getting up and getting ready for big day. After Diya and Ishwarya were ready we three had breakfast, Kishan, Rajashree and Vijay already finished their’s. As we returned to room to take my backpack and other bags for Diya and Ishwarya, I saw Kishan Rajashree and Vijay were ready in their room, all set! boarded tempo traveller with our respective backpacks and 2 transition bags which had all the items we wanted in respective transition areas.
I was wearing red HRX running T-shirt and black HRX shorts both gifted by Ishwarya for my first half marathon event on 21.02.2021 Madras ISHM. It took me 2 hours to complete HM and experience was amazing. In October 2020 I started transitioning to barefoot running, since then I was all barefoot runner, even the 20k Hennur bamboo forest trail run I finished on bare foot, but in this adventure race we were about hike/run in forest hence decided to wear AZANI minimalistic shoe which I bought in the initial days of transition to barefoot.
As we reached start point of the race, we saw many teams, all pumped up and making last minute preparations, even we joined them and filled our bladders in the backpack emptied enerzal packets into bladder, box full of chikki was already in backpack. Along with 2-liter bladder full of enerzal water, I was also carrying a 750ml sipper with plain water. Arm sleeves and hat was on, all were ready to create history as India’s first 24 hours adventure race is about to start in a while.
About an hour to go, we received our race passport which we need to get punched at all the check points, we also got first set of the maps, which included first 2 legs of the race which are 8km trail running and 7 km of kayaking. We started planning our route and finalized the route made note of the major junctions and started warming up for the first leg of the race. Then we received all other set of maps, as we were busy planning our routes for other legs race director Ajita announced race will start in 15mins. Uh!
10:20 AM, sun already started showing his domination, we all were standing at start line, flag was in Udupi tourism officials hand, count down started 10.. 9.. 8.. 7.. 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. and the whistle for the start of India’s first 24 hours adventure race was blown, 10:25AM we all started running with adrenaline pumping!
First leg of the race was 8km trail run, we wanted to get best out of our fresh legs by running fast but as Vijay was driving all night and did not rest properly we were forced to take it slow, still we were racing along with most of the teams except couple of, who were targeting the title of first 24 hour adventure race. It took us an hour to complete 8k which is not bad and reached first transition area TA1 to transition to Kayak, we were not prepared for it, it took around 30 mins to get into kayak, should have been transitioned in 10-15 mins. During this first 8km of trail running we covered 2 check points CP1 a post office and CP2 at Palimaru bridge, punching the passport for first time at CP1 was a great feeling!
We started the 2nd leg of race 7km kayaking from Palimaru dam (not a full-fledged dam, I would say a check dam) which was constructed accross river Shambhavi, with scorching sun on our head at 12 noon. Plan was Kishan and Rajashree will use double kayak me and Vijay will use single kayaks, 15-20 minutes into kayaking sleep deprivation started showing effect on Vijay’s ability, so we decided to changeover Rajshree took a big decision to kayak single on a huge Shambhavi river! Kudos to her for brave step. Soon after this change over I started feeling migraine headache damn, now I was falling behind. there were 3 cp’s in this leg, I managed to punch at 2 of them and for final cp I handed over the passport to Kishan and Vijay, luckily we had covered most of distance and seeing Ishwarya and Diya and finish of kayak section energized me, one of the best moments of the race.
By 1:45PM we reached TA2 transition from kayak to 18km road/beach run. Since the dresses were wet during kayak section everyone decided to change and it was pre planned, but I decided to continue in same shorts because I was not able to control headache and was not able to change. It was lunch time, and we were not sure if we will get any food in 18km run section hence decided to have some food. By the time we refilled our bladders and planned route for next leg of the race, it was 2:30PM, we finished our lunch and I took medicine for headache then we started running. We were the last team to leave TA2.
Longest run of the race
With 18kms to cover on beach side, no shelter and plenty of cross wind to push us back, nothing went as planned in this section. We initially thought of running at around 6-7km/hr so latest by 5:30PM we will complete this leg and reach TA3, but we only managed to walk for most of the distance, except reaching CP06 which was may be around 3km from TA2, this 3km section was on highway and residential area so we had protection from wind, but as soon as we reached CP06 which was right on the beach heavy wind pushed us to our bare minimum capacity and we walked all the way to CP07, which was a light house in Kaup beach. I think it was around 6PM, sun was setting and we saw many locals gathering near beach enjoying with family, some people riding the horse, some playing frisbee, some just walking on the shores where waves touched ground and kids playing in the small setup of carnival!
From CP07 we rushed to TA3, this is transition from running to cycling, so I needed to change my dress, and everyone supposed to setup the bike with all required mandatory accessories. Also, since we were tired after completing around 35km we decided to get physiotherapy from our physio partner Stairs. They also had their team participating in race, team Stairs, packed with athletes but they did some navigation errors and covered 25-30 kms more than what we did, still time difference between team Shershah which held 3rd position and team Stairs was only 10mins. My heart goes for you team Stairs, better luck next time. Physio was really helpful in regaining our strength. Thank you Stairs.
Toughest leg in terms of navigation
We were on our saddles, but it was already dark around 7PM, we had noted down major junctions of the road and places to look for in this 40km cycling leg. Because of the tail wind we were all flying on our wheels, it was refreshing and we did not feel like we completed 8km run 7km kayak and 18km long beach run and doing this section, it felt like we just started the race!
We reached CP08 in no time which was Shirva police station, but things turned from here because next checkpoint CP09 was somewhere inside the village, there were no proper roads for this place and no localites knew the name of the road mentioned in our passport, hell ya. First we went almost close to CP09 then returned back thinking this is not the way, reached highway continued on highway for few kilometers again confused, checked with locals they said the route we took earlier was correct so we came back to same spot now we see 4 more teams in the spot, we lost all the lead we had, but it was night and no team was able to find the route so everyone stood there looking at map and then one team decided to go further, I think it was team S3G, with the advantage of local dialect they moved in one direction all teams followed them. Yahoo, CP09 was right at the junction of road, since this was not a selfie cp we suppose to get punch in our passport but puching device was not with CP board, we were searching for the device all around the tree trunk could not find punch device, so decided to take selfie and move on.
While riding on off road to reach CP09 one member of team ‘3 and half men’ broke his chain, since they didnt had any spare they were forced to end their race.
Now we are at a junction somewhere inside Sorkala village, not sure which way to go for next CP which was not far but hidden further inside the village and could not see the road clearly in the map, so Vijay went in one direction and Kishan in another, most of the other teams were glued to their maps. Vijay came back saying no road in that direction after some time Kishan came back and he said ‘their is a road and I am sure we must take this route’ without wasting further time we took that route but there were many junctions and population of that village were all Christians and our next cp CP10 was a selfie cp with baby Jesus wow, you turn on any side you see cross and Jesus to add to this, since it is selfie cp there will not be cp board, wonderful.
We stopped at a junction, again team S3G passed by, we followed them and we found a church which had baby Jesus statue, to make sure this is the CP10 I searched for cp board but as mentioned earlier it is selfie cp and no cp board so we decided to take selfie and go ahead. When we were reaching highway team Shershah were entering from highway to CP10, looks like from CP9 they went back to CP8 took highway and coming to CP10 via longer route.
When we reached highway, we asked to locals about 100 year old temple inside Pilarkhana forest they were quick to guide us and we cruised into next cp CP11. We were surprised at CP11 because marshal told us we are currently in 2nd position, wahoo that feeling was amazing ‘we are just behind team Skyrunners which is packed with ultra-runners, cyclist and captain himself is a professional trainer’. According to me our performance was not bad at all. This information boosted our morale, and we were energized. When we were leaving CP11 team S3G arrived.
Next cp was start point of steps to Karkala Gommateshwara statue. We could see some people around and asked them for direction and it was an easy ride to CP12, on the way we took break at small shop to have banana and purchase battery for backup, Kishan started feeling cramp in his legs but decided to move and few kms ahead we saw team Skyrunners heading back, hmm not surprised at all. Few kms further in this route unfortunate incident happened, Rajashree toppled from cycle and broke her tooth. Since it was downhill, we went ahead unaware of situation but stopped after hearing the whistle. When I went back, I saw cycle lying on side of road and Rajshree was walking towards me saying “I broke my teeth I broke my teeth”, this was make or break situation for the team, by then Kishan and Vijay came back and Kishan rushed to Rajshree to ask her about injuries personally as a caring husband and assess the situation. We took some time (it doesnot matter even if we take hours, safety is important) and Rajashree herself said I am ok we can proceed, still we stood there for a while and only after making sure she can ride, we started. After few kms Kishan was not able to ride because of cramp and we stopped again, after doing some stretches may be pain was relived a bit so he said “I will walk”, all decided to walk, after a while upon seeing downhill he pushed himself on saddle and started riding then we didnt stop until CP12.
It was race between us and team S3G in this leg from CP11 to CP12. I guess we crossed each other 3 times. CP12 was a selfie cp we took selfies rested for few minutes, planned the route for next cp and left. Mangaluru team were having dinner at this point. It was around 10PM but with all incidents we were completely unaware of time and hunger was not in our mind, also we wanted to reach next transition area so we can get first aid for Rajashree and some help from physio for Kishan, so quickly we started pedaling.
TA5 was very tricky one, main road was up hill and transition are was in a downhill at a junction, anyone can easily miss it. But since it was uphill, we were walking and at the same junction we stopped to look into map, suddenly Kishan saw a shed with many chairs and light still on, and when I looked at the shed I saw marshal walking near the shed, ah! we are here, thanks to uphill otherwise we would have easily passed ahead of this transition. It’s around 10:30PM much needed medical support was provided to Rajashree and Kishan recovered from cramp with the help of physio.
All teams supposed to perform an activity at TA5, only after completing the activity teams will get the remaining maps, but race directors changed the plan and provided all maps after kayak leg, which was helpful for us in planning. Still, we have to complete activity which is peeling 20 arecanut using traditional knife, by the time I and Vijay completed the activity Rajashree and Kishan were ready after first aid and physio.
Also many teams started reaching TA5, quickly we finished dinner at around 11:30PM and wanted to start next leg of race which was 8km trail run but I misplaced our passport, team Skyrunners didn’t close and load their transition bag to bus before leaving the transition area (they could have been penalized for this! as), unfortunately we opened our transition bag next to their bag and I had put our passport in their bag (this is not team Skyrunners mistake, I am completely responsible for this), after searching for a while I found it and we rushed to CP13, now I made one more mistake I confused all thinking CP13 is in TA5, after checking the logistic planner it was clear the CP13 was in running leg so we rushed to CP13, but we made mistake again! since bus stop was mentioned in passport we took road next to bus stop and reached a bridge foreseeing the waterfalls soon we realized its wrong route and came back to main road.
After walking for few meters in main road we found CP13 hanging on the name board of road which was leading us to next cp, but after punching passport at CP13 we started running back towards TA5 thinking route to CP14 is somewhere close to transition point, now 2 more teams walked towards us, we stood therr for a while looking at the map and confirmed it is the same road in which we found CP13, we followed other teams thinking they will not find CP13 and we can take correct route but they found the CP13 and we started running in that route towards CP14.
It was small hill, beginning of the western ghats, there was only one road but road leading to individual houses in that region were also of same width as main road, so we were confused and many points which way to move. After some kilometers road narrowed now only bikes can go further in that road and when we asked locals who were heading back to home after watching KAMBALA a sports event, they said there is pond at the top of hill so we were sure that is CP14 because passport says ‘DAMN! its a check dam’, as the route was confirmed we marched towards it but what locals said was ringing in our ears “there could be herds of bison it can range from 12-15, also there are some cheetahs around” we walked with all ears and eyes, at this point even light of a house looked like eyes of some animal, when we were in this mood all of sudden we saw huge light turned on and off we all were scared thinking definitely some animal looked at us and is hiding somewhere nearby, we walked even slowely holding our breath and we were very much relieved to see Sayeesha our race director standing their with his bike, he turned on and off his bike headlight! Thank god, we were all alive again 🙂
After punching the passport when we were about to descend Sayeesha reiterated that currently we are in second position but it is late night and asked us if we want to continue with the race or want to short course to finish line. We were in second position and how could we opt for short course? all 4 of us resonated “we want to continue”. Sayeesha wished us for remaining course and we left immediately. Descending was also scary but we managed to reach TA5. Quickly cleared our belongings put everything in transition bag loaded it into bus, fixed headlights to bike and started last leg of the race.
Race to finish line
We were second to enter TA5 and we were second to leave TA5, so we were pretty sure of finishing the race as first runner up unless we make some serious blunder in navigation. Vijay repeatedly said it is the same route through which we reached TA5 from CP11 but to be sure of it we stopped every vehicle at every junction and whoever stopped we took confirmation that we are in right direction.
Somehow the same distance felt longer on our way back, we kept on pedaling without any brakes. At around 3:45AM we reached last cp CP15, after getting sign from marshal we continued making sure there should not be any photo finish at the finish line with other teams. We missed route at 2 junctions but quick to realize that and rerouted ourselves with the help of local folks.
When we reached main road, we could see big sign boards showing direction to Padubidri and butterflies started flying in my stomach, we will be the second team to finish first 24 hours adventure race ‘Namma adventure race’ OMG!
I think from CP10 we were riding in pairs because headlights of Rajashree’s and Vijay’s bike were completely drained out and only Kishan and me had headlights on our bikes, around 60 kms of cycling so far and 8-10 kms of hiking at TA5, this did not deteriorate our speed.
Route from highway to finish line was passing through the hotel where we were staying, I just looked at my room hoping may be Ishwarya is awake, but obviously both Ishwarya and Diya were sleeping. we continued and when we reached the beach stretch, view was amazing. The reflection of full moon on sea and the moon in sky WOW awesome.
We turned our head from that amazing view, and we saw another stunning view ‘THE REDBULL ARCH’ OH MY GOD!!! we were ecstatic.
As soon as we crossed the finish line Ajita pronnounced we are the ‘FIRST RUNNERUP of NAMMA ADVENTURE RACE – First 24-hour adventure race of India’, with timing of 18 hours 55 minutes.
Cherry on the cake
We relaxed at race HQ for about 2 hours then headed to hotel to take some rest. Vijay was still sleeping at HQ. When I reached room, Ishwarya and Diya were awake and waiting to celebrate 🥳, after that they went out for breakfast and I slept. At around 11 Kishan woke me up so we can get ready for closing ceremony, by this time Vijay had came back and getting ready. When I was almost ready Ishwarya and Diya came back and we all headed to race HQ.
When we reached race HQ, race directors and volunteers were preparing all the setup. Finally we were on podium as first runner-up. Medals and goodies were distributed.
After medal ceremony, we had another surprise, Ishwarya prepared a certificate kind of document and printed it to present it to whole of the team. Team name, individual names and Vidhana soudha in background was so apt for our team. On top of all these there were photos of us taken during the event, wow lovely, thank you Ishwarya.
Every team who participated in the event were extraordinary in their determination and execution, because this is a multidisciplinary team race and if one member of team fails full team will fail. Congratulations on finishing the first 24 hours adventure race of India.
Finally, I would say this was a very well organised event, considering the fact first time happening in India. Kudos to full team of NthAdventure. My heartfelt thanks to NthAdventure for this opportunity and introducing me to adventure racing world!!!