I just love running. One of my reasons (and I am not saying that it is the most important reason) is that it keeps me healthy. It is like my insurance policy against heart attack. And even as I write it, there is this feeling, this knowing, that I am fooling myself. It is like feeling financially secure until you lose your job or the stock market crashes or whatever. Or like feeling safe in your marriage until your spouse steps over the line.

We try to anchor our lives to something solid. We build high fences, buy pepper spray…


Faster and faster we went

One year after my first 24-hour stadium run, my memory of it faded enough for me to inflict it upon myself again. In my defence, the previous one was in Delhi, while this one was local. In March 2019, at 6 PM, the usual crowd was there, and many others since different races were happening simultaneously.

I had a pleasant start, feeling fabulous for the first 6 hours, and I completed 60 kilometres. After this, I started feeling progressively worse as my stomach started cramping, and I felt nauseous.

At the darkest hours of the night, between 1 and 4…


There is a lot of debate about heel-striking versus forefoot striking. There are excellent articles that explain the difference in impact and concludes that it is probably better to strike the ground with your forefoot than otherwise. (Like this one.) But not everyone agrees. Some say that front-foot striking may cause all kinds of problems with your feet if you do longer distances like that. (Like these guys) After a lot of reading, I concluded that mid-foot striking is probably the best way to run, and I hope that I am doing it consistently.

A few years ago, I had…


I was desperate for a job. I looked high and low and prayed, but nothing seemed to happen. I was doing short-term contract work, and the project was almost finished. We were living in someone else’s house. We did not have any savings to fall back on. My recent experience did not qualify me for much, as I worked as a computer teacher at an NGO (Non-government organization for charity) in India. There I taught basic programming skills to people with physical and mental disabilities.

As I prayed about the situation a verse from the Bible came to mind. “Trust…


The first time I ran a hundred kilometres was at the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India, during a trail race called Runtherann. The Rann is a vast salt marsh in the Thar desert. The salt sounds deliciously crispy underfoot, but sadly the route does not remain on it. After about 10k (but it may be more), it takes you through rugged, rocky terrain where only thorn bushes and cacti grow.

Around forty competitors decked out with all their compulsory gear lined up for the start. The kit included two torchlights with extra batteries, the capacity to carry at least…


As with the rest of life, our running can also benefit from a bit of planning. Part of the fun for me lies in planning my next race.

In the pandemic, many running events got cancelled or postponed. You are never quite sure when the event will happen. This can mess with a distance runner’s plans since it isn’t possible to be always ready to run your best race. It takes a long build-up, a peak, and then some tapering to be optimally prepared.

Planning also involves a host of other things like experimenting to get your diet and equipment…


It is cold and dark when I get up at 2:30 AM this Sunday morning. This is the kind of thing we runners are used to. Getting up early, eating breakfast in the middle of the night, putting on running shoes in the dark because you do not want to wake up your spouse, are all things runners are adept at.

At 3 AM, I am in the car on my way to Nangal. It is usually a two-hour drive, but Google maps say 1 hour and 45 minutes. Time to think about strategy and expectations. A hilly route is…


Anticipating a tough run and a great adventure, I headed out to Chitkara University in Rajpura on my Suzuki 125cc at 4:25 am. Dodging moths on the highway must have been a premonition of what was to come in something that would have made a good episode of “Man versus wild.”

I had my hydration bladder, which takes 2 litres of water, 2 bananas, 6 snickers, my belt with 500ml of Gatorade (and sachets with more), light, whistle, phone, and cap. Just after 5 am, I disappeared into the woods surrounding the SYL canal, in the dark of night. I…


My regular running buddy and I invited another guy to join us. We wanted to impress him with the joys of running, so we took him to our favourite route through the forest behind the lake. I discovered my mistake soon enough.

We came to the forest at a good, steady pace like the seasoned and savvy runners we wanted to portray ourselves to be. Casually chatting about PB’s and longest runs and that sort of thing, we ran into a minefield.

It was the time of the flying worms. Once a year, thousands of tiny worms suspend themselves from…


Difficult, tough, hard? The words used to describe the Shimla Tuffman Ultra just do not seem to be sufficient. Severe, relentless, unyielding… The Comrades and Run the Rann both seem tame compared to it.

My daughter and I went to the venue in Mashobra, just beyond Shimla, the day before the race and were assigned one of the camp’s permanent tents as lodging for the night. I suppose you could call it glamping since it had a bed and a terrace. Runners for the various distances were getting to know each other in relaxed anticipation or exploring the surroundings. It…

Running with a friend

Stephan is an enthusiastic South-African runner living in India who competes in (and wins) races. He follows his friend, Jesus, is a father of 3, and a CTO

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