KOCHI: Snow-covered trails and elevated roads welcomed Akash Nambiar when he set out barefoot to complete an ultra-marathon solo race from Manali to Rohtang La on October 22. The Kannur native completed 51 kilometres at an elevation close to 4,000m within 10 hours. It was a fundraiser event for an NGO ‘Free To Run’ based in the US, which works under the United Nations in war conflicted areas. Akash’s ultra-marathon was carried out to support women and girls in Afghanistan.
Akash found his passion in running when he met actor Milind Soman in 2014 during a Pinkathon event in Bengaluru. Later, he became a Pinkathon ambassador and has been participating in many ultra-marathons. His first solo run from Abu Dhabi to Dubai received much appreciation as he was the first person to attempt an intercity run there.
“I came across the fundraiser event of Free To Run from an Afghan citizen in Dubai. Due to the political situation in Afghanistan, the venue was shifted to India. I chose Manali to Rohtang Pass as it has similar geographical and weather conditions to that of Afghanistan. And if the Rohtang Pass is known as the valley of dead bodies, Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires,” says Akash.
The journey was not easy due to the weather and elevated paths. Though he carried dry fruits and water in his journey, things turned worse when he completed the first 20 kilometres. The sudden cold weather worried Akash who only wore a t-shirt and trousers. “I wore my usual Vibram five finger sole foot cover but opted for a thin slipper as the snow-covered pathways were very challenging for me.
After 20 kilometres, I entered a non-network area of an isolated dense forest. The next 30 kilometres were kind of do-or-die, as I ran out of water and food. The trails also turned difficult to walk. When I reached Rani Nala, I started hallucinating and had the tendency to jump into the huge deep pits on my side. But, I was informed about the tendency to hallucinate by the villagers in Manali, where I stayed a month prior.
They had given me a palm-full of garlic to chew if I felt like I was hallucinating as it helps regain consciousness. Finally, I reached the finishing line,” says Akash. According to him, the event helped him to become more confident and take challenges in life. “I plan to perform more solo inter-city ultra marathons. The solo runs are free from competitions and it is a way to strengthen one’s mind and body. Also, I felt it as the best way to explore new places and people around us,” says Akash.