The 20-Year Race Blogs 2023

Narayan Bharadwaj



The 20-Year Race (2023) blog posts from Narayan Bharadwaj

08 August 2023 12:38 pm (GMT-06:00) Central Time(US & Canada)

The year was 2009 and I emailed an article to a buddy from college (Sumanth Cidambi) about a tough endurance race, running through the four deserts in the world. The email was simply titled “Game for a run”. Sumanth who had just taken to long distance running was intrigued and started considering it seriously. Before long, he had signed up for his first race with Racing the Planet in Atacama and has since gone on to become a member of the prestigious four deserts club.

Fast forward to the year 2020, Sumanth reminded me it was payback time and since I was turning 50 in 2021, I should join him in Georgia to participate in RTP 2021 to mark this milestone! And so it began, the training and the conditioning for RTP Georgia ’21. As someone who loves data and analysis, I started “unpacking” the various layers behind running a 250K – gear, nutrition, electrolytes, training, recovery, mental conditioning, mobility, strength training etc. Over the course of the next one year, I somehow managed to piece together the various pieces, flew to Georgia and successfully completed RTP ’21.

I like to think of the RTP experience as a “Hotel California” experience. Once you check in, you can check out, but you can never leave!  So once I was in and experienced what it felt like to run in remote, unspoilt, beautiful courses around the world spending time with some of the best people, it was hard not to sign up for the next one. So here we go again in 2022 when I stepped up my training even further and participated in the spectacular RTP Lapland ’22 improving over my time in ’21.

RTP was my first ever race I had participated in beyond a marathon distance and the “bug” of long distance running bit me quite deeply. One thing led to another and I had started training regularly with the US mountain running champion, increasing my race distances gradually. Over the past couple of years since I first ran an RTP, I have successfully completed several mountain and trail races (roughly one race a calendar season) ranging from 50K to 100K distance in some of the best courses your feet could land on (Western States trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Chattahoochee national forest in North East Georgia, Wasatch Mountains in Utah etc.,).

I’ve never run a desert race and I have always been a bit of a chicken when it comes to running on desert terrains because of the fear of heat. However, over the past year or so, I dialed into the science of heat acclimation and have been gradually upping my tolerance for running in the heat. So when announcement about RTP Jordan ’23 came up, even though it is a desert race, the time of the year when hopefully it will not be oppressive and seeing the finish line at the footsteps of Petra was hard to pass on, I signed up to participate.

More than anything, I look forward to connecting with dear friends I made in Georgia and Lapland, many of whom I am in touch through social media. Few of those have become dear friends with whom we share our training, successes, frustrations and our life's journey (you know who you are!)

To summarize, my journey with RTP led to my love of long-distance running and nothing captures how I feel than the quote by Haruki Murakami in his wonderful book “What I talk about when I talk about running”

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

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