Trails of the braves; The Chambal Ultra Challenge


Running an ultra?🙅‍♀️🙅‍♂️

“Oh! When your heart, skips a bit,

For an Ultra run being a haunting shit!

 Faint cue of aid , shaking through the trails

  And clouds of fear appear infinitely dark

but then your passion plays the beat. 

      And there you go, bravo, just hit the mark”.

                                                                                                                                                                       – Dany Saran


Ever wondered of the beautiful running trails through the forests and across cities? Ever wished for pushing your limits of running? And when I say  ‘once a runner, forever a runner’ , doesn’t it just give you an adrenaline rush to lace up right away and leap?

Oh, well! No kidding! The runners world is a different realm of humans indeed. But the one hopping for endurance/long distance runs or ultra marathons are insane. To be precise, why would you consider running an ultra ( Runs beyond 42.2 kms)  to be fun? This is hell crazy.  

Let me take you through one such ultra trail running of India with an ardent runner Dany Saran who is currently serving as a medical professional in Indian Air Force. He is not just passionate about running rather he is also very fleet of foot. His is a story of strength, willpower and undying love for running. Being laid up of a bone fracture in the hospital for over 7 months, he took to running again as he recovered. Since then running has been his constant companion. He is also a Procam Slam Champion with due participation in TCS world 10K Bengaluru Run, Half Marathon in Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, 25K run in Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, a full marathon in Tata Mumbai Marathon(earlier Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon).

dekhte hain

He recently won the 3rd edition of  Chambal 63K Challenge 2020, held in Kota, Rajasthan. The Chambal Challenge is one of a kind ultra running as it is a zero loop ultra marathon. The race categories included 33K, 50K, 63K and 84K.


Can you explain a bit about the Chambal 63K Challenge route for our readers out there?

The Chambal Challenge is more of a mental challenge as much as it of physical nature. The challenge run is flagged off in Kota and it finishes straight in Rawatbhatta. Running both worlds at a go sounds pretty cool. Right?  Every route throughout  the distance has unique vibes. The initial 10K route is more of a city road surface leading to   next 10K  route into a uneven trail. After completion of around 20K, the runners welcome a hilly terrain for another 10-15K. This tests the real endurance and energy of the runner due to the long uphill/downhill slopes. It, then , tapers down to embrace road followed by forests, hilly trails, etc for a few miles. It’s a blend of flat and uphill run with the elevation of over 1800-1900 feet. Then, there is this giant BhakraNangal dam in Rawatbhatta crossing which there is an university guiding you to the finishing point. The majestic city view here, tends the runners to run in an even faster pace with fun and ease.

The finishing line soon arrives and the vibes of finishing coupled with proper hydration, public, police and management support, etc, makes the runners high comes to an end. The happiness on finishing is matchless. I made the podium finish of 63kms in 5:45hrs. The assumption of the trail is much different before the race day as it actually is during the run. Hence, arunner needs to be mentally determined and physically fit enough to attempt for an ultra.


Raramuri Dany Saran bracing the 63K challenge…



What has been your training schedule for this particular Ultra run?

Recently, in early November last year, I finished my 4500kms Glory Run that is conducted by Indian Air Force. This trails from Kargil to Kohima. This particular run has provided me with a tough and rigorous training  schedule with respect to hill runs along with roads. This journey brought in more positivity in me. Post this as well, I used to train regularly in different terrain of Delhi and Jaipur. The hill training is, thus, of immense help and builds confidence on the race day. I chose to run at a faster pace in the initial 30-40 kms post flag-off given the possibility of heat building up after few hours. Ahaha. Well, that’s the trick.😃

Chambal route for various race categories.

How important is the recovery ?

Recovery post-run is of utmost importance, more so if it is an ultra race. Post-running stretches fuelled with ample hydration is a must. Further, one cannot simply afford to neglect proper sleep and rest. I prefer not going on runs for a couple of days post marathons. This helps create a balance in my body and prevents any scope for muscle injury. Talking to close friends and sharing your race experiences acts as a relaxation therapy.

Any strategy  or thoughts during the run?

Yes. Since there were four race categories but with more or less the same route depending on their distances, I tried to be on foot with the 50K runners. Hence, I just aimed to cover around 13kms in my first hour. Next, I pushed myself to finish my next 30kms in 2:15hrs which I did in 2:10hrs. This gave me a fillip to run even faster and better in my last leg of the run with the runners in 50K and 33K category. The one who stood second was just 200mtrs ahead of me, but I pushed myself hard taking a good lead of around 1k at 35kms. The consistency was maintained throughout and this itself was a win for me already. Securing the first prize, of course comes as a bonus though. 😉

Your advise for the beginners training for ultra marathons?

There is quite a significantly little proportion of people active in running marathons globally.  Having said that, you can now well imagine the count of ultra runners. You should be firstly, proud of yourself, to take up running as a hobby. Running not just makes you fit physically and mentally but it also helps you find yourself. Through the worse, vulnerable, sweaty, exhaustive, panting with running, it brings you closer to yourself. Thus, it develops your intellectual and emotional quotient making you a happier and better person. And developing inner-self is such a gift to our lives. Isn’t it?

Further, as far as training for an ultra run is considered, try training hard in terrains more uneven than your usual road surface. Do as many hill running as you can possibly do build up on your energy and endurance level. Stay hydrated with proper sleep routine keeping up with your mental strength.  Thank You. 🧑









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