Meet 44 Years Old Suhrid Roy, Who Safely Ran A 60k Ultramarathon On His House Roof Top During The COVID-19 Lockdown!!
5th April 2020 7:00 pm: It was a strange evening. It isn’t usual in a time like this for us to be lying in bed, being plain unproductive. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the human race to a screeching halt.
The reason for me taking rest was a bit different this time, though. It was an exceptional day as I had completed the longest ever run of my life: “The 60 KM Home Ultra” on the rooftop of my apartment.
All of a sudden, my mobile phone rang.
I was in a dilemma whether to take the call from the unknown number that was displayed at the mobile screen, but I picked it up anyway only to be pleasantly surprised…
*”Hello, is this Suhrid Roy?” said an unknown voice. “Yeah… Speaking…” I replied. “Hi… This is Coach Kay…” “Oh my god… wow…” *
It was a happy realization that the person on the other end of the call was “The Man” – the founder/race director of the Ooty Ultra, the 60k ultra enduring race I was supposed to run on 5-Apr-2020 alongside many others.
I started running sometime in September of 2017… well, this is another story, but here goes. I was obese at the time, and my weight was 92+ kgs. One beautiful morning in front of the mirror, I looked at myself… and the childhood cricketer inside of me exclaimed, “what sh**?” It was that moment I decided to change things and start running.
I arrived at the shameful realization that I couldn’t even manage to run the full 300 meters stretch between my flat and the gate of the society. But when I came back the next day to give it another shot… I could. The next to next day, I actually could go till the society’s gate and come back. Slowly it started increasing… 300 m, 600 m, 900 m, 1.2 Km… and so on. I started exploring the nearby areas and started achieving greater distances. Two months from the day I started, I went for a 10km race at Chanakyapuri and completed it in less than an hour. I was on for running. Four months from the day I started running, I was at 67 kgs – a reduction of 25 kilograms in 4 months. Not bad if you ask me. *
I graduated to the half marathon category, and in January of 2019, I ran the full marathon at TMM. It was total turn-around from not being able to run 300 meters to completing a full marathon in 15 months.
The exciting part of road races is that the competition within yourself. One always tries to better their performance and take up new challenges. I ran 10+ half Marathons and 2 full marathons apart from running a half marathon at Ladakh and running the 25km BNP (Borivali National Park) challenge etc. and, of course, a few long training runs at Juhu Beach on the sand. All these are different kinds of challenges, and all along, I have been thinking what’s next…. what’s next. That brought me to take up the challenge of running an ultra marathon. I went for the 50 KM Lonavala Tata Ultramarathon and completed it in 6 hours and 46 minutes. But what was next?
Yes, it was the 60km Ooty Ultra. Probably one of the best ultra races in the country. My running buddy and office colleague Karthik told me about the Ooty Ultra even before I ran the Tata Ultra, but I decided to wait till I completed it and then consider registering for Ooty Ultra. I didn’t waste much time to register for it once I finished the Tata Ultra since I was confident in my abilities. And then I began the preparation.
I booked my flight tickets from Mumbai to Coimbatore and back, and I soon booked the accommodation at YWCA Ooty. It was the mental preparation that I found enjoyable to go through. And then came the bad news.
The marathon was on the rocks. I got an email from Ooty Ultra about the potential postponement of the race due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, which was gradually beginning to show its claws and teeth in India as well. It was such a disappointment, but at the same time, I appreciated the early decision taken by Coach Kay… and that video… Wow…. Such a great way to communicate a piece of heartbreaking news for himself more than anyone else in such a positive manner, with the backdrop of Ooty itself.
The emotion I had was, “We shall Overcome (on) that Day 27th September” once the new dates were announced. I was actually not feeling bad, having seen the video message from Coach Kay. Later on, once the lockdown was announced, I traveled back from Mumbai to Delhi home.
After a few days, I was introduced to a Whatsapp group of runners in Gurgaon called MKJ by my friend Mr. Gaurav Chhabra. I saw a few videos of people running indoors, one that I remember is by Mr. Ashu running a 21K indoors.
It inspired me. It imbibed a thought in my mind to start running at my rooftop. I then casually started running there. It was not bad apart from the fact that I had to take so many u-turns, but I was feeling good after the 1st day, and then I ran a 5k and a 10K there. A lap was approximately 31 meters long with two u-turns at the rooftop. 5th April was nearing, and the thought of missing Ooty ultra was bothering me. I quietly asked my wife if she would help me if I run a 60 K on the rooftop. Of course, she asked me what kind of help I required. Then I explained about the supplies that we get during an ultra: water, bananas, oranges, Gur, chocolate, jelly, cold drinks, water with electrolyte tablets, etc. etc. As she understood my thought process, she was not surprised at all; for her, it was like if you have taken the decision, let’s do it. So we arranged for everything we needed.
Preparing for my run gave us an idea about the herculean challenges that race organizers have to confront to make sure all the participants in marathons set in remote places have all the necessary supplies available. Luckily I had the stock of jelly and the electrolyte tablets at home; otherwise, it would not have been possible to get those during the lockdown. And very soon, I was ready to run the full 60 km at home in remembrance of the Ooty Ultra.
I requested our Yoga teacher Mr. Sachendra to help me by taking a class the day before the marathon to get some relief from the pain I was going through in my lower back and groin for long. He obliged me with a session, and it helped greatly.
I started the run at 6:47 am, 17 minutes past the start time of the Ooty Ultra, and I decided to capture a few exciting moments on my mobile as I ran. I also connected my iPhone with Bose wireless earphones and turned off the WiFi and Bluetooth of my iWatch to ensure that the charge remains till the end, started the running app on my iWatch in indoor run mode to record the time and distance and started running.
And then I went on and on and on. I passed the 10 km mark at 1 hour 9 minutes, 20 km mark at 2 hours 20 minutes, half marathon mark at 2 hours and 28 minutes, 30 km in 3 hours 31 minutes, 42.2 in 4 hours and 58 minutes, 50 km mark in 6 hours 20 minutes and the final 60 km mark in 7 hours and 50 minutes. I took lots of pictures with my camera for memorabilia. During the run, watching the sun coming down was heavy on me. It was also amazing watching a flower literally blossom from its buds. I kept visualizing the route for TMM at various distances, like when it was at 18 km, I envisioned running on the Bandra Worli Sea Link. At the same time, at 35 Km, I thought of conquering the Peddar road incline or while passing through 40 Km felt like running on the marine drive. While the watch captured a time 7 hours and 30 minutes, there were, of course, a couple pauses, and the actual time I took was about 7 hours 50 minutes.
The end was unbelievably satisfying. I couldn’t even imagine how much more satisfying it would have been at Ooty, however. I missed Ooty on 5th April (like many of my runner counterparts) but definitely look forward to 27th September 2020, the new date for the event. By this time, we would have hopefully overcome the pandemic. Ooty, I am eager to come and fall in love with you on that day.
Special thanks to Coach Kay for appreciating my run and for sharing those inspirational words post-run during that 7:00 pm call.
I look forward to meeting all my runner counterparts at Ooty.
Congratulations Suhrid Roy, You Are Truly An #Ultramalaivasi!!
Suhrid Roy hails from New Delhi and works for NBFC InCred Financial Services, in Mumbai. He started running in 2017, and has run 10K – 4 Times, 21K – 12 Times, 25K – 2 Times, 42K – 2 Times, 50K – Once , 60 K – his first ever roof top run 🙂