RacingThePlanet Blogs 2022

View All Posts 2022 From : Narayan Bharadwaj

Narayan Bharadwaj
Tough stage 1 completed!

14 August 2022 06:09 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Stage 1 was the textbook definition of technical trails - we had a healthy dose of everything! - rocks, uphill, downhill, roots, water crossings, duck boards, dirt road - you name it!!! I did stage 1 with my friend Sumanth and finished it with him!


Start line to Checkpoint 1- Drain that Swamp!!!


Within 500 meters of the start line we were faced with a nasty Marsh that we had to cross. The Marsh had a very narrow duck board  which was submerged and had moss on it! The first few who walked on it slipped and fell into the ice cold water! The rest of us quickly formed a line and crossed in single file very very slowly. No waterproof socks can help when your legs are in ankle deep water! The rest of the course to CP 1 was easy and we made good time!


Checkpoint 1 to 2 - Rock 'n Roll!


The difficulty level of this part of the course was marked as "Very difficult" and it proved to be just that, the entire distance of 15k! The climb to the Pallas fell was long and rocky. The downhill was equally rocky and it took us a long time to get across this stage.


Checkpoint 2 to 3- Back to roots!


Reaching CP2 was a relief but it was short lived as the entire course from 2 to 3 was full of roots. It was a beautiful forest but made it difficult to run without falling!


Checkpoint 3 to Camp 2- Take me home, Country roads!


This was an easy dust road and we made good time reaching the base camp! Long day but glad to have made it without any injuries. It was a gnarly trail and it would have been extremely easy to get injured! One day at a time!!


The camp is on shores of the beautiful Pallas lake and is very pretty! Tomorrow is 24 miles and looks to be mostly runnable trail! Will see how that goes!

Comments: Total (1) comments

Rajan Nair

Posted On: 14 Aug 2022 07:00 pm

Great start Narayan!!! Glad that you were able to navigate this difficult leg safely and without any incident.. good luck for the next leg
Narayan Bharadwaj
In Lapland!

11 August 2022 05:23 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Arrived in Rovaniemi yesterday after three flights (Nashville - Chicago - Helsinki) and about 12 hours of flying time! The sight of the twin prop from Helsinki to Rovaniemi threw me off a bit as I hadn't flown in one of those in many years! But it came through just fine! 

The descent into Helsinki and Rovaniemi screams unmistakably Arctic! The timberline was clearly larch, pine and fir for miles on end. Just dense, tall, lush vegetation so pleasing to the eyes! 

It was so good to meet Sumanth after 30 years at the hotel. We headed out for lunch and caught up. It'll take a long time to catch up. But we have all the time and 250 kilometers to ruminate! Grabbed dinner and slept for about 5 hours. Struggling to adjust to the 8 hour time difference! 

Met with Martha Jones this morning at breakfast and we were reminiscing about the Georgia '21 race we did together! Sumanth, Martha and I later headed out to Santa Claus village and the Arctic Circle. Great walk of about 8K. We visited the Santa Claus post office and did the touristy things ?

Mike got in late in the afternoon and the four of us went out for lunch. Looking forward to meeting Yasmina(Yas) later this evening after chatting and running with her virtually for more than two years! 

I really hope I catch up on my sleep and adjust to the local time zone before the start of the race. 

Repacked my food into ziploc bags and optimized my UD40. Really happy with how it looks and weighs now. I'm ready to run!!

Comments: Total (1) comments

simone kiesch

Posted On: 14 Aug 2022 05:18 pm

Wishing you a great run Narayan, and the best of luck...
Narayan Bharadwaj
My journey from Georgia in 2021 to Lapland in 2022!

05 August 2022 03:00 pm (GMT-06:00) Central Time(US & Canada)

Boy! That one year went by soon! Seems like yesterday when I crossed the finish line at the awe-inspiring Vardzia Caves in Racing The Planet Georgia 2021!


First, a recap of how I got lured into doing the race last year :-) Way back in 2010, Sumanth Cidambi, a buddy of mine from college days had just started taking to long distance running (marathons and sub-ultra distances). I stumbled upon an article online about Racing the planet and teasingly sent him that article with a single line "Game for a run?". The rest, as they say, is history! Sumanth became one of the most ardent fans of Racing the planet series and became the first Indian to run across all deserts, plus races in Patagonia and such. This year, he is suiting up to run the coveted Last Desert, 250K in Antarctica. His story here 


So when both of us were on the verge of turning 50 a couple of years ago, we started doing virtual races - him based in India, me in the US. That sounded perfect for the COVID world we were in, in 2020!  We completed the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (1000 miles in 4 months) and then put together a team of 10 to virtually run Circumpolar Race Around the world, 30,000 kms - running pretty much 10K daily for nearly two years (we just completed it a few months ago). Sumanth, being the good friend he is, wanted to repay the kindness by planting the bug in my head to join him at Georgia for the upcoming RTP roving race in 2021 as my 50th birthday gift to myself!! At first 250K sounded insurmountable, but I figured running was both a science and an artform. I've always run for fun - half marathon casual runs on the weekends and 5K pretty much daily, but never thought of moving beyond marathons. I started peeling the layers behind the science of ultras and figured that if I could solve for each of those layers, MAYBE, I could do this. I signed up for the race and trained for it.


Unfortunately, with travel and quarantine restrictions, Sumanth couldn't make it to Georgia, so I ended up being on my own. However, once I was in the race, I realized that trail and ultrarunning community is very close-knit and the camaraderie and bonding you develop is nothing like you ever see in any other facet of life - not at work, school or social cliques! I ended up developing lifelong friendships with some of the best humans I have ever come across. Mike Williams, one of the Top 10 finishers in the race and I have become closest friends and I feel like I have known him forever! I stayed in touch with the other participants via social media channels and Strava as we continued to cheer and encourage each other through our journey this past year! 


Someone asked me what is the one thing I look forward to in this race. I said to them that meeting with my friends is the absolute one thing I look forward to in this race! Just from the one year that I have run this race, I know at least 10-12 folks who will be participating in the Lapland race this year! I am so excited to be finally running with Sumanth in person as he is all set to join us this year in Lapland! Though we have kept in touch via phone calls, Facetime, chats and emails, we will be meeting in person after nearly 30 years :-)


In the one year from Georgia to Lapland, I've explored further into the science of running and also connected with the emotional side of it!

  • I participated in a 100K race on an urban greenway course of 10+ miles loops x 6 and dropped out after 33 miles (~53 kms) out of boredom and monotony. I also participated in a backyard ultra, just to experience the variety of the format, but realized that I am not cut out for urban or loopy races. I love the uncertainty of the trails as it calls for you to watch where you are going every step of the way, but they have to be a point-to-point or maybe an out and back course!!
  • I participated in a 50K race (Sky to Summit) last year in the Chattahoochee National Forest and completed it with a twisted ankle from a misstep I had on the course. I learnt that the variety and uncertainty of the trails kept me going. I wouldn't have been able to do it in an urban course!
  • I also participated in Strolling Jim (41.2 miles/~66 kms), one of the oldest ultramarathons in the US and got to rub shoulders with the great "Laz" lake and Harvey Lewis;
  • I also methodically peeled the layers to an ultra - gear, nutrition, electrolytes, training, strength, mobility, stretching, recovery, balance work and have been working on improving each of those areas in this past year!
  • I've been privileged to be training with Eli & Tabor Hemming who run Aerobic Monsters coaching. They are accomplished mountain runners and Coach Tabor recently became the US Mountain Running champion. Both Tabor and Eli will be representing the US National team in the upcoming World Mountain Running championships in Thailand later in the year! They have been great to work with and I have learned a lot from them!


That's my journey over the past year from Georgia to Lapland!! I want to say I am prepared for Lapland, but knowing Carlos, all of us fully expect some "gotchas" along the course. So as we say in the running community, I will respect the course and take what it has to give me!


Stay tuned for more updates!!








Comments: Total (1) comments

Marco Grobbelaar

Posted On: 09 Aug 2022 10:44 am

Awesome story, Narayan. Looking forward to meet up at the race again and share some stories.