The ice runners

Feb 22, 2015, 01:13 IST | Hemal Ashar

Three Hyderabad-based women are gearing up to participate in the 42-km-long Antarctica Marathon on March 9

Icy glaciers loom over them, snow blankets the ground, penguins dressed in black and white tuxedos jump out of their way and an icy wind cuts like a knife through them. This is picture-postcard Antarctica. Three women from Hyderabad — Sunita Tummalapalli, Dr Shilpa Reddy and Anuradha Raju — who have run the Mumbai Marathon in the past, are all set to experience this scenario as they participate in the Antarctica Marathon on March 9.

Dr Shilpa Reddy
Doc you rock: Dr Shilpa Reddy blazes a trail

These women, who have a host of other full marathons to their credit, are on their way to the South Pole through Bangalore’s Active Holiday Company, which represents the Antarctica Marathon in India. “It’s all about running the 42-km distance in another continent, the coldest and of course, one of the most exciting in the world,” says the trio who are members of a club called Hyderabad Runners.

RUN along: Sunita Tummalapalli takes the road less taken
Run along: Sunita Tummalapalli takes the road less taken

A global footprint
Tummalapalli, (46), has so far completed 23 full marathons besides ultra marathons and half-marathons. Apart from participating in the Mumbai Marathon in 2013, she has run marathons in New Zealand, Istanbul, Greece and France. Talk about a global footprint, or a run print, to be more precise. Tummalapalli has sub-five hour timings in several marathons. She says, “I want to run marathons in all continents. I enjoy travelling to exotic places and participating in challenging marathons.”

She has been training diligently for the Antarctica Marathon. She reveals, “Sometimes I go to a local national park, which has a four-km trail with inclinations. Rest of the time I run on the roads. I do cross training and strength training at a nearby gym.”

She adds that participating in this event has been a dream come true for her. “I never imagined that I would travel to that part of the world, let alone run a marathon there. With this event, I would have run marathons in five of the seven continents,” she smiles.

This mother of three, who started running at 40, says she needs to strike a balance between her family responsibilities and training commitments to be fit for the marathon. However, she attributes her success and passion for running to her husband who encourages her to participate in “unique marathons.”

Rock solid support
Dr Reddy, who has participated in eight full marathons including London, Turkey, Ladakh, Mumbai and Hyderabad, is excited
to participate in the Antarctica event.

Her best full marathon time was in the London Marathon where she clocked Five hours and 20 minutes. Dr Reddy says that Antarctica beckoned her, as she wanted to explore the continent and also look at the glaciers that are fast disappearing.
“I want to see the natural beauty of the South Pole. I want to see the glaciers before they disappear due to global warming,” she explains.

Her training schedule comprises a lot of hill runs, long-distance running and strength training. She adds that running a marathon demands a lot of sacrifices. “You have no social life while training for such a huge event as you always have to be focused,” she says.

Endurance is all
Raju, who has run 22 marathons over the last five years, will add another feather to her cap after participating in the Antarctica Marathon. She says, “I’m excited to enjoy the breathtaking views. I have run in colder temperatures in the USA a few months ago. Other than that, the focus is on endurance as the weather cannot be simulated here in Hyderabad.”

She considers herself lucky to be chosen among 100 to get entry into the annual marathon. “I was on the waiting list before being confirmed. Running has been therapeutic for me. I have discovered my true self especially on challenging runs like the Everest Base camp,” she says, adding that self-motivation, sacrifice and dedication are instrumental to maintain a fit mind and body.

As the trio takes to the icy continent, in just a few days, it is the cheers of their respective families from another continent that will be their wings to the finishing line.

earlier edition
Here we come: An earlier edition sees runners cross the line

Antarctica Marathon
The event is held every year in late February or early March. The 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) race is held on King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula. The start and finish is at Bellingshausen Station (the Russian base), and the course passes the Artigas Base (Uruguayan), the Frei Base (Chilean) and the Great Wall Base (Chinese).

Did you know?
The Antartica Marathon is recognised by Guinness World Records as the Southernmost Marathon on Earth

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