Last Sunday, something special happened on the tracks at the majestic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi. At the 24 hours Stadium Run organized by NEB Sports, Vishal Adhau, a 31 years young runner from Pune, broke the highest recorded distance by an Indian for 24 hours run on track. Vishal ran 479 laps, and clocked a distance of 196.39 km (one lap was recorded as 410 meters by organizers, since inner lane was not used), breaking the previous record set last year in Bengaluru Stadium Run by 4 km. This is the longest distance run by an Indian on road or track in a 24 hours event.
To put it into perspective, Vishal ran 24 hours at an average pace of 7:20/km. The previous record for 24 hours on track was set by Sunil Sharma, a runner from Chandigarh, at the 2017 Bangalore Stadium Run, where he ran 192km.
We caught up with Vishal to get his take on this superlative achievement. Vishal is an android developer at Walnut (a startup in Pune) by day and an ultra runner by night. He has been running seriously since close to 2 years now and in this period, he has run about 14 races till now, and most of them have been ultras (just one marathon there).
Official races finished till date: 21Km – 3, 10Km – 2, 42Km – 1, Ultras – 8
1. 196 KM – 24 hours Delhi Stadium Run 2018 (1st place)
1. 161 KM – Pune Ultra Marathon 2017 in 21 hr 13 mins (1st place)
2. 220 KM – Bhatti Lakes Ultra 2017 in 44 hr 23 min (2nd place)
3. 180.4 KM – 24 Hour Bangalore Stadium Run 2017 (2nd place)
4. 161 KM – Sahyadri 100Mile (Nasik to Mumbai) Race 2017 (1st place)
1. 100 KM – Western Ghat Ultra Pune 2016 (1st Place)
2. 100 KM – Pune Ultra marathon 2016 (2nd place)
3. 42 KM – PRBM 2016 in 3 hr 40 min (3:36 Net time, 9th place)
4. 80 KM – 12 Hour Night Run Pune 2016 (4th place)
Our chat with Vishal
Here’s what Vishal had to say when we called him up:
From my first 5k to 220km, it’s been a fun journey and one I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’ve run 8 ultra marathons so far, the longest being the Bhatti Lakes Ultra where i covered 220km in 44hr. I like to run alone and mostly practice during the night.
When did you start running?
My friend Harish Padaki introduced me to running in 2015 and we registered for a 10Km for fun. I started practicing about 2 weeks before the race and finished it in 51 min 25 sec(I’ve checked the timing a year later!).
The next year Jan I registered for a 21Km run in same event and completed it in 1:48 mins. And that’s how my love affair with running started.
What made you choose ultra distance running over the usual marathons or half?
Chance. After one of the half marathon my friend asked me to register for 12 Hour Night run which would be held in the Western Ghats. I had also registered for a full Marathon on 19 Oct but when I covered 35KM in 4:30 min, I thought why wait for the full Marathon and managed to cover 80KM in 12 hours without injury with 4th place.
Running for 12 hours was exhilarating. I decided then that I wanted to run Ultras rather than marathons.
What’s your favorite ultra running route in India and why?
I’m just starting out in the Ultra running world, so I don’t have a fav route yet. But i like the tougher routes, terrain and trails which helps me to challenge my capabilities and endurance.
Was this 24 hours record on your mind before you started the Delhi Stadium Run? Was that something you were focused on throughout the race or it just happened?
I was pretty sure 200KM+ is possible. I told Sunil Sharma the same before the Race but then I heard about the weather condition at night in Delhi and decided to take it easy at night between 2 am to 9 am. I didn’t want to take risk as my next race is just 3 weeks later.
As per experience in Bangalore 24 Hour Stadium Run I was a bit sure that 200KM+ was possible on track. In Bangalore 24 Hour Stadium Run my target was 100 Miles to get qualified for Bhatti Lakes 220KM. I took it easy in last 12 hours in Bengaluru Stadium run as I didn’t know the existing records. But i was satisfied I got qualified for Bhatti 220 km.
What’s your weekly training mileage like. Can you give us a brief insight of your training so that aspiring ultra runners can learn from you.
My weekly mileage varies from 80KM to 150KM as per the race scheduled. I used to keep track of runs when I was doing 10Km, 21Km. Now I use the Strava Mobile App only to explore new route elevation and distance. I keep track of current week mileage in my mind and try to increase the time on feet in my daily activity. During races I just listen to my heart watch and try to keep it consistent.
What’s your favorite surface, road, track, or trail?
Each surface is a different challenge. But i enjoy trails more than other surfaces. In trails even after 4 loops it looks different, don’t get the feeling of running on same surface.
How do you strategize for a big ultra run?
It depends a lot on the distance, the terrain and the weather. I keep it simple – maintain a steady pace, stay injury free & stay hydrated. I start planning it out as i reach closer to the goal.
What’s your favorite fuel / food while running ultras?
I’m a vegetarian so it’s milk, potato and bananas – lots of bananas. I eat whatever is available at the aid stations. I try to fuel properly myself during the race, whenever I feel I have to slow down(because of temperature up/down, terrain) – i get some food and ensure it’s digested the food properly. I avoid junk foods and focus on the sugar content, salt, lemon/orange while running.
What are your next big goals in ultra running? Any big events in near future you look forward to doing?
I set my next goal when approaching finish line of each and every race. There are two goals for right now.
1. To cover 200KM+ in 24 hours
2. Sub 20/21 hours in 100 Miles
Here’s wishing Vishal the very best for his next ultra racing adventures.