How Running The Ladakh Marathon Changed My Life Forever


“There’s nothing like the Ladakh Marathon.” You’ve heard it before. I’ve heard it before. Past runners did their best telling me what to expect: Cheering fans lined along with the armed forces jawaan all across from the Shanti Stupa to the finish line and Ladakhi kids hold hands and run together as a unit and the jawaan boasting the morale of every runner. Of course, you cannot forget the huge mani wall and the Mani wheel somewhere between mile 7 and 10 and planes flying over your head to land in the early morning mist as we weave though skara road, putting one foot in front of the other.

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All that stuff is definitely there on race day. But no words can ever do the experience justice; really describing the vast emotions a Ladakh Marathon runners feels striding through all the arid mountains is hard. Sure, everyone’s experience is different, but for me, September 14, 2014 may very well be the best day of my life so far.

Running through the city i call home, sharing the streets with so many other people who share my same passion for early morning runs it’s all so surreal. Then there’s witnessing the best and the worst’s that Delhi offers. Then running through the arid mountains of Ladakh is a different feeling, Ladakh offers something for everyone and while running on these high altitude is a plethora of emotions opening up and i realize how small of a space i take in this massive world.

Without a doubt, the largest burst of emotions came right before the finish as i turned and saw them in the stands: friends, others runners and audience shouting to pump every runner for the final stretch, so darn happy. Friends taking blurry photos that i’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Crowd was waving that same teen inspired “you were born to run!” sign that’s been in their hand at every rare supporting the spirit of runners. The tears started to form. I made my way across the finish line victorious at my very best. I cried. I smiled. I started to wheeze. And then it hit me. I not only accomplished my goal of running the race under the given time, i ran before a lot more people more fitter than me could finish it. Nailed it.

Ladakh Marathon ( The highest). from Chewang Goba on Vimeo.

As i reunited with my ecstatic friends, lips blue, shivering, smile crying, it finally felt real. Just like it’s hard to explain how wonderful the Ladakh marathon is to someone who’s never run it, i can only imagine how it feels to overcome such a major obstacle and make such a wonderful dream a reality. I did it. We were together. And in that moment, I may have been the happiest I’ve ever been.

So what’s next? I’m not sure. For now, I’m happy with his marathon. I’m satisfied taking a step back, getting back into other forms of exercise aside from running. For now, I’ll continue to think back to that moment seeing myself crossing the finish line. For now, I’ll smile and say, ” I’m a Ladakh Marathoner.”

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2 thoughts on “How Running The Ladakh Marathon Changed My Life Forever

  1. Hey buddy!

    A very inspiring article and a commendable feat indeed.

    Im planning to give ladakh zendurace full marathon a shot this year (in about two weeks from now), and im reaching out to you for a little advice. Youve been there (marathon at such a height) and that lends a lot of credibility to your voice. Therefore asking you for suggestion…

    I’m one full marathon and 4 half marathons old. All road races run in planes like delhi and ncr. Though ive been to ladakh two years ago and i have an idea about the need for acclematisation etc, but i didnt runt there at all.

    I ran a half marathon in gurgaon last month (a trail race). Since then, ive not been running everyday, but doing about 25-30k on an average per week, mostly doing 10-12k runs.

    I have no idea how much more difficult the conditions are going to be.

    Questions for you:
    1. Is training 25-30k per week too less for such a race?
    2. Am i being too ambitious in thinking i can nail a full marathon up there? Like are the conditions really 20x more difficult?
    3. Should i consider a half marathon? Which im sure i will complete, but will also be much less on satisfaction levels.

    PS: I really really want to run the full marathon. I feel with a little training that im doing, little sweat and blood, and tons od determination and willpower i can manage to get to the finish line.

    What do you reckon senior?
    I can discuss this over the phone if you prefer not to type.

    Thanks much in anticipation.

    Warm regards
    Vipin Sharma

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    1. Hi Vipin,
      Am sorry for the delayed response was travelling in no network regions. First of all clearing all the air this was my first marathon and yes it was a high altitude marathon. I say if you have the will to complete anything you can do it. Answering your questions below
      1.I was training for 50 km running per week followed by swimming and cycling for 2 days.

      2.No you are not, just don’t stress yourself, give ample time to acclimatize and practice in the terrain for a long time, I gave myself 15 days training in the same terrain where the marathon was supposed to take place. It may look tough but I really cant comment for the full marathon, but the half was not really tough, we were running on tarmac, the race starts at shanty stupa and goes down towards chanspa then on the fire and fury road and all the way to the airport and back up towards chonglosmar. The entire route is tarmac with a few bad patches but not really bad, there is a mix of gradual uphill and downhill, but its fun. The tempo is high with all the runners and audience boosting your moral. Ill say if I can nail a half marathon there for the first time, a regular runner surely can do it.

      3.Go for the big one, there is no harm in failure and there is always a next time.

      feel free to call me anytime at 987-193-8631

      Like

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