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  • Writer's pictureSukrit Gupta

Running Over One of The Three La’s at La Ultra-The High

Kieren Dsouza is undoubtedly India’s elitest trail runner and endurance athlete. These words are not meant to flatter, but are only a logical conclusion. He is the only Indian who has has completed Spartathlon (a 246 kilometre race held annually in Greece), finshed 8th at Yading Sky race China, 8th at Eiger Ultra 50K, as of 2020 he been classified as a elite sky runner (he is actually the only Indian to be classifed as an ‘ELITE’ sky runner). He is also the race designer of the highest race in the world ‘Ultra Half’.

Too many accolades for a single person right? The following blog is about him running 111km at La Ultra in 2016 where he set a new course record. Which has since been broken.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”6456″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Running Over One of The Three La’s at La Ultra-The High [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]2014, 48km at North Pullu

Julley!

I was at the start line of La Ultra-The High in 2014, pretty excited to get going. Who knew that my run would not last very long and I would be sitting at the side of the road, out of the race, because I did not make the cut off at 48km, missed it by a good 7min. I felt horrible and determined to get back and get the job done.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”6459″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”6460″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]

Footsteps in the snow

Moving on 2 years later, I was acclimatising on a trek to Koa Rrang 2 with the boys from UPslope Productions while they attempted to climb it, before heading off to Leh for La Ultra-The High. We spent a good week on the trek and gained a good deal of altitude (up to about 5600m).

We spent most days walking…. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

soaking in some brilliant views…. One those many views, I woke up to [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6462″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

….running around shirtless on a glacier, as one would normally do🙂 [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6467″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Camp at the Glacier [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6468″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Aditya enjoying the ride on More Plains…Once done with the trek, we (UPslope boys and I) left Keylong and continued to Leh on some really loaded bikes. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6469″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

The Crew and the Runners… Once in Leh, I got to meet the other runners and the rest of the guys involved with the run. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6471″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

We had a good 10 days before the run, along with the race briefings, spending my days lazying around with Dr. Rajat, Chetan and Vijay (who were busy organising the race) at the office, I had to also figure out some more things to do to keep acclimatising.

The Frog and Me… One day I went a little ahead of ‘the frog’, a prominent land mark on the course. That day I went up to about 4200 meters. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6472″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Another day I went on the Phyang trail, a nice little trail very close to Leh town, again about 4200 meters. The most exciting day of the acclimatisation period in Leh was when I went up to Stok Kangri base camp. It was a long day, with the base camp being at about 5000 meters and had a great time running this trail. This was the last major day of acclimatisation. I then rested and walked around town a lot.

Picture Credit – My GoPro (On the way to Stok Base camp) [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6473″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Always nice to have some company on the trails [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6475″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

10 August we left for Nubra valley, where the run was to start the next evening.

Did a lot of chatting around with my fellow runners and I was able to pass my time till the evening of the 11th of August.

Here, I was again attempting the 111, the shortest of the distances at the cruelest of races out there.

Just before the start, rain and died down and the sky was beginning to clear [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6476″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

We started running at 8 PM. The first few Km’s being flat, it was a great time to enjoy some easy running, at the only flat part on the entire 111. We crossed a little puddle of water (a good 20 meter long), it needed us too change into some fancy gear so as to avoid getting our shoes wet.

My fancy gear to cross that puddle [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6478″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Though it was raining and cold when we reached the start line, the rain died off minutes before the start and it did become warmer. A little before reaching my old nemesis, the ‘North Pullu’ check point at 48 km, it started to drizzle and got really cold. I was wearing my rain jacket, but here I also put on a thermal layer, as there was still a good 659 meter of climbing left to do to reach Khardungla at 5359 meters, and I knew it would get much colder.

Getting out a thermal layer at North Pullu, 48 km checkpoint [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6480″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

I reached Khardungla just at about day break. Here I sat in the car, warmed up a little with some soup and removed my thermal layer as I was expecting to get warmer on the way down. I also had a nice little chat with Tim, one of the race doctors in the car. After this it was downhill, pretty much all the way till the finish, a good 50 odd km away.

Just 1 or 2 km off Khardungla, still sub zero temps [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6482″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Ankush, gave me some good support all the way till South Pullu. At South Pullu I met most of the crew members of the 333 and 222 runners. Did not waste anytime here, had some salt, a few hi’s and how are you’s and kept going.

The UPslope boys caught up with me 10km before entering Leh. Ashish gave me some company on the run here.

Closing in on Leh [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6486″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

I reached Goba, HQ of La Ultra-The High in Leh, met Dunya and Vikas here, had a chat, some water and was off to the finish line still 9km away. It was a nice run till the finish, with lots of happy thoughts about finishing, I ran and finally reached the finish line of the 111, bang over the Indus, definitely a beautiful finish line.

Finish over the mighty Indus [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6487″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

I Look forward to getting ‘high’ again.

Julley..

Running is NOT a one man sport, and I need to thank a good deal of people, starting with my family, friends and foes. Mr Parag Zaveri, Wg Cdr Stanley Nazareth (Retd), Aunty Eugenia Gomez, Uncle Otto, Aunty Ida, Bro Phillip for all the non running related support :). The boys behind La Ultra-The High, Dr. Rajat, Chetan, Vijay for putting up the cruelest race in one of the most beautiful places.And of course the companies that provide me with so much support.

While you are reading, I might be on the RUN.

You can still catch me on Instagram 😉 [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3451″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://www.instagram.com/kierendsouza/”][vc_column_text]


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