Race Director’s Report – 2018
Fellow Runners and Volunteers,
To begin with, I would like to thank you for joining me at The Malnad Ultra 2018. Needless to say, my team and I enjoyed putting this event together and we look forward to our 2019 Edition.
As many of you are aware, our event has grown from just about 200 runners to 1200+ runners in 3 years. This could not have happened without the support of trail warriors like you. Ultra and Trail Running is a fast-growing sport in India and many city runners are now beginning to enjoy moving out of urban spaces to be closer to nature. An event like ours not only brings you close to nature, but presents a variety of challenges and thrills along with it. I am sure many of you have experienced a few memories and moments that you will remember for the rest of your lives.
It is undoubtedly a challenge to organise an event like this in demanding conditions. From the lack of communication due to poor mobile networks, the terrain, to the vast area that we cover on our course, it is always going to be difficult to get everything right. Having said that, I assure you that our team gave it everything we had in terms of effort and planning. Despite this, I am sure that each runner feels that we could have done something different and better. Your feedback will help us get better.
As always, safety is our first priority and we pay utmost attention to this. While there is a significant element of luck, we spend majority of our efforts in ensuring that we bring each runner back home. I want to touch upon a few areas quickly to help you better understand our event from the insider’s perspective.
When we first opened registrations in January 2018, we had no idea that we were going to attract over a 1000 runners. As a result, we felt some pressure in the last two weeks during the process of printing and couriering bibs. We will correct this by closing registrations at least 4 weeks prior in future editions. We will also stick to our rules a) No transfers b) No Category Changes c) No Cancellations and d) No Spot Registrations in the future. We had to make a few exceptions this year since Bibs did not reach in time and I am aware that some of you made category changes in the hour before the Start. We will not allow this in future editions.
Accommodation & Travel:
Despite many warnings, many runners chose to leave planning their accommodation and travel to the last moment and then started requesting us for help! In addition to the Package provided by our Travel Partner, we will try to publish a list of choices available on our Web Site. Hopefully, you will find something that suits your budget and convenience.
Hydration, Food and Medical Support:
Simply put, it is difficult to please everyone and meet individual needs. One major feedback was that many runners found our food spicy, despite instructions to the caterer. We will pay closer attention to this in future. We will also likely reduce our variety on offer at the Aid Stations and Rest Areas and focus more on sufficient quantities of hydration on the course.
It seems like a few runners expected to get personalised massages and stretches on the course! While we did have physios stationed at strategic locations, it was not their responsibility to help you complete your race. First-time runners possibly are used to getting medical support on demand, but this cannot and will not be provided in events like ours. Some runners also expected to get Pain Relief Spray at each Aid Station. Again, this should not be expected at an Ultra like ours (pain sprays are also chemical)! Runners must be prepared to fend for themselves and learn to understand their body better. It is part of your evolution as an Ultra Runner.
I am aware that there were some delays on the course due to manual tracking of runners on the course. Some runners have reported delays of upto 10 minutes as a result of this. After consulting my Run Managers, I have decided to change the cut-off for the 50KM to 9 hours and 15 minutes. We have awarded a finish to all 50K runners who completed in this time. We will send out your medals via courier in due course.
A few runners have also reported issues with their timing not having been recorded at the timing stations. Our Timing Partner is looking into this. Rest assured, we have sufficient manual data to correct any timing issues. This will take time and we will resolve each issue reported to us on a case-by-case basis.
Results will be uploaded to the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) site for UTMB points in about 48 hours after the remaining timing issues have been sorted out.
We are lucky to have a team of outstanding photographers with us every year. They have shot over 19,200 photographs during the event. Since they are all volunteers and have to take care of their own personal and professional lives, it will take another 4-5 weeks for us to publish photographs from our event. I know many of you are waiting anxiously for them. Request your patience in this regard. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only event that provides high-quality images free of cost, tagged by Bib Number, and with no watermarks.
One of our photographers unfortunately lost his personal drone being used for videography at our event. If any of you have information about this, please do reach out to us. It is indeed unfortunate that one of our volunteers suffered this personal loss of equipment.
The best time to think about the next edition is immediately after the completion of the previous one! We have already started discussing possible dates for 2019. We are strongly considering moving our event to November to ensure that the monsoons have moved out. We will consult the Estate Managers and others before announcing dates for our 2019 edition. In any case, I expect to make the announcement by January 2019 and start registrations at least six months before the event. I am aware that many runners need to plan their annual calendar so that they can train well. We also will ensure that we do not conflict with other major events across India.
Special thanks to all the Running Groups that enthusiastically brought their group to our 2018 Edition. The camaraderie and bonding was obvious. I also want to thank the international runners who took the time to check out our event. Of course, the pan India representation was awesome.
Thanks also to Unived Sports, Active Holiday Company, MyRace Timing Solutions, Salomon and Suunto India for their support. We look forward to growing the event with your support over the coming years.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank Coffee Day and their Management, the countless plantation workers, the Managers of the Estates and my selfless team of volunteers. I am well aware that this event cannot be without each one of you standing by my side.
Wish you and your families the very best in the upcoming festival season and the year ahead!
October 18, 2018