Published on May 28th, 2014 | by Jehan Raffiuddin
Wish Vineeta for the Comrades Ultra-Marathon 2014!
You know her today as the co-Founder of FAB BAG. Her b-school friends know her as the girl who used to run the streets of Ahmedabad for hours when the city lay asleep. What started off as a casual one-time group run, has led her across the world, beyond full marathons to complete multiple ultra-marathons where she “learnt more about herself than during any other experience in her life”. In today’s special feature, we bring you Vineeta Singh and her stubborn will to push against physical & mental limits as the miles keep flying by.
Double Glory: Last year, she battled an exceptionally tough race day weather with searing heat and strong winds to complete the run with exactly the same timing of 11:56:36. In doing so, she also finished as the fastest Indian woman runner and one of the only 16 Indian runners who managed to complete the race.
June 1st, 2014: This Sunday, the Fab Bag Crew will glued to their TV sets & Comrades and following running bib #12332 as Vineeta attempts to set a record of being the only Indian woman to complete 3 consecutive Comrades ultra-marathons… and we would love it if you are a part of it! Here’s what you can do to get involved:
- Leave a comment: Scroll down and leave your message wishing Vineeta for the Comrades 2014!
- Share this: http://bit.ly/VineetaSinghComrades2014 on Facebook if you’re rooting for her this Sunday
- Tweet this: http://bit.ly/VineetaSinghComrades2014 to fuel her up as the clock ticks down to race day!
The following sections contain excerpts from her story in her own words:
“So… why do you run?” Ever since I took up long-distance running in 2007, there have been many times that I’ve been asked that question. Initially, the proposition of running the 42.195 kms of a Full Marathon seemed like an elusive challenge. Call it self-affirmation, but before my first marathon, I had spent days and nights trying to answer the “Can I do it?” question. Then, there came a time when I just knew that I had to do it not to prove anything to the external world – but just for myself. We were a group of 6 batchmates who started prepping by scheduling late night/early-morning runs. Committed as we were – we even drew up a bizarre ‘no-show’ fine policy where whoever slept and didn’t turn up for the 3AM runs had to treat the others who did. In January, 2007 I completed my first full marathon. I didn’t know it then, but something in me had changed forever.
There are many things I’ve learnt while running and in the preparatory phases, but what shaped me the most was the realization that when you train hard for a challenge, the preparation is as much physical as it is mental. Move past the initial rush of the gunshot at the start, the cheering crowds, the volunteers handing out refreshments and you’ll feel the noise receding to a light din. You cross the halfway mark as you feel the pain set in and before long, your body becomes a machine in the irreversible grip of forces beyond muscles and ligaments. It’s the voice in your head that talks to you and tells you that you’re better than this. It’s the scene you visualize a 1000 times in your mind where you cross the finish-line and trot up to those who’ve believed in you sometimes more than you have. It’s the thrill of knowing that you could have given up, but you chose to stand, fight and complete the challenge you had set for yourself.
After multiple marathons, I felt confident enough to attempt the 75km Bangalore Ultra-Marathon in 2010 (video here) where I was fortunate to finish 2nd in the Women’s Open category. And then, it was the Big One – the 89km Comrades Marathon in South Africa that draws thousands of runners from across the world every year. The catch – you HAVE to complete the race in 12 hours flat and the race officials actually barricade the finish line at the exact second when the race clock hits 12:00:00. That’s not all – there are interim cut-offs with section timings and if you miss any one of them, you get disqualified and picked up by one of the dreaded “Runners Buses”. After a literally life-changing experience, I completed the 89km run on June 3rd, 2012 in 11hrs 56mins 36secs (video above). You can find a complete blog post here on the run here that is unfortunately quite a long read!
Today, when I am asked about why I run, I know that I run because it gives me the strength to believe that I can push myself beyond what I could five years back. I run because it’s the best way I know I can spend my ‘me time’… it gives me the space to think and philosophize over where I want to be when I turn 50. And mostly, I run because… I think I am a better person when I do.