• There is another place
    Roshan Surve Calls

    home

    Right through his growing years, the dusty trails of the Sahyadri mountains had been an integral part of his life. But things changed in a flash, the day Surve discovered the world of trail running. There was now the added motivation to test the limits of his endurance on the mountain. Yet some things remained unchanged, such as wandering the many pugdandees under a starlit night or while soaking in a sunrise.



    Surve’s growth has been rapid since he took to the sport in December 2019, finishing on the podium of a number of races such as the Deccan Ultra (30km) and Jumping Gorilla Mountain Trail Run (80km). But winning has never been his priority. A good run is when he’s crossed the finish line content, a lung-bursting effort while appreciating the joys of nature amid new surroundings.

    new
    challenge

    “Most trekkers take three days to go from Kalavantin Durg to Nakhind. My aim was to do it in under 12 hours. When I first told my friends about this project, they thought I was quite mad. They felt it would certainly take longer,” Surve says.

    It’s the same drive that helped him visualise a project during his many forays into the Sahyadri. A link-up of six summits of the Matheran range, an attempt to set a marker for the Fastest Known Time (FKT) over the 47km distance. And at the heart of it, a drive to grow the tribe of trail runners and explorers like him.


    It took little time for Abhijit Chandankar, Pinto Mandal, Nidhi Tuli, Vishu Poojari and Arnav Gogri to come on board to help Surve achieve a first on this route. While his intent was a self supported effort, his mates would set up two aid stations en route where he could replenish supplies and avail of any assistance if needed.

    “They accompanied me on a number of training runs before I set off on the big one. These are competitors who’ve transformed into friends during races - this is what I’ve always enjoyed about trail running. There’s great camaraderie in the community,” he says.

    the reece


    The project first struck him during the Covid-19 pandemic. While most athletes cooled their heels during the lockdown, Surve’s profession as a civil engineer gave him the freedom to step out. From his home in Chembur, he would often set off on a 45km bicycle ride to Kalavantin Durg, put in 14km of running on the trails and ride back home by noon.


    “I’ve trained here so often that it’s like home. Kalavantin Durg and Prabalgad Fort are on the same plateau. From one end, I could see a ridge that possibly led to Irshalgad Fort, so I set off exploring the trail. It took a few attempts to finally find a way. From my previous explorations, I knew that from Irshalgad, you could get to Matheran and onward to Peb. The only missing link was Nakhind,” he recalls.

    A bicycle accident in January 2022 put him out of action with a torn shoulder ligament and a dislocated collarbone. But while convalescing over three months, he continued dreaming of the run. On his recovery, it took a few races for him to regain his stride. The project was back on in October last year, as he set off to explore the Peb-Nakhind section.


    “By this time, I knew I was ready since I had explored the entire trail. The FKT was one thing, but I wanted to spread the word on the incredible terrain of the Sahyadri and that it was possible to enjoy these trails even while running,” he says.

    setting off


    The month of April meant searing temperatures hovering around the 40 degree celsius mark. The route was recced, though not marked. Surve knew it would take effort to navigate certain sections where the trail was sketchy. Then, there was the sheer exposure to contend with between Peb and Nakhind.

    “There deserved to be an element of difficulty and when I put it all together, it seemed like a very promising challenge,” Surve says.


    At 6am on April 16, he started out from Thakurwadi at the base of Kalavantin Durg. He made rapid progress on the initial climb that he was all too familiar with and encountered his first obstacle while descending Prabalgad.

    blazing conditions


    By the time he had descended from Irshalgad, he had covered 16km. A loaded breakfast helped him power through 7km of rolling terrain that ended at the base of the climb to Matheran. “There was no respite from the post noon sun, since the trail has no trees. My throat was parched and I came to a grind halt on the slope, sitting there in the scorching heat,” he recalls.


    Though well aware of what the entire effort entailed, in that moment, it all seemed like a bit of madness to him. Technology came to his rescue and a brief show-and-tell with friends helped him collect his thoughts and get moving again.


    Once on the Matheran plateau, Surve was at ease as stormed over to the second aid station to fuel in on nutrition. Tuli trailed him here on to keep a watch on the exposed section beyond Peb.


    “Two hours to traverse 3km will tell you a lot about it. The trail was laden with scree, so you kept sliding backwards with every step, a massive effort to make progress. And a wrong step in certain patches would send you plummeting a few hundred metres,” he says.


    The final test was a technical descent down an eight foot boulder from Nakhind top to rejoin the trail, where all his previous experience on rock was put to good use. At dusk, he had blazed a trail over the 47km distance in a time of 11 hours 40 minutes, while encountering an elevation gain of 3,276 metres.


    Surve pulled off the run in Athlos’ Zero Tee and distance running shorts. The gear proved to be the perfect ally in the extreme heat.


    “I’ve used Athlos’ shorts for two years now because they remain dry and cause no chafing, even during the longer runs that have lasted close to 20 hours. I started using their jersey only this year. This too dries up quickly, really breathable and lightweight


    it’s almost like wearing nothing,” he says.


    Surve can hardly wait to make another attempt with a new time target on his mind. And this time around, it will be in the winter, when he can indulge in the many splendours of the trail just a little more.


    “I’ve experienced similar terrain and conditions, but this was a first in terms of a personal project and an FKT. It’s opened up this space for other runners and if I’m able to inspire someone to give it a go, I’ll be really satisfied,” he says.

    blazing conditions


    By the time he had descended from Irshalgad, he had covered 16km. A loaded breakfast helped him power through 7km of rolling terrain that ended at the base of the climb to Matheran. “There was no respite from the post noon sun, since the trail has no trees. My throat was parched and I came to a grind halt on the slope, sitting there in the scorching heat,” he recalls.


    Though well aware of what the entire effort entailed, in that moment, it all seemed like a bit of madness to him. Technology came to his rescue and a brief show-and-tell with friends helped him collect his thoughts and get moving again.


    Once on the Matheran plateau, Surve was at ease as stormed over to the second aid station to fuel in on nutrition. Tuli trailed him here on to keep a watch on the exposed section beyond Peb.


    “Two hours to traverse 3km will tell you a lot about it. The trail was laden with scree, so you kept sliding backwards with every step, a massive effort to make progress. And a wrong step in certain patches would send you plummeting a few hundred metres,” he says.


    The final test was a technical descent down an eight foot boulder from Nakhind top to rejoin the trail, where all his previous experience on rock was put to good use. At dusk, he had blazed a trail over the 47km distance in a time of 11 hours 40 minutes, while encountering an elevation gain of 3,276 metres.


    Surve pulled off the run in Athlos’ Zero Tee and distance running shorts. The gear proved to be the perfect ally in the extreme heat.


    “I’ve used Athlos’ shorts for two years now because they remain dry and cause no chafing, even during the longer runs that have lasted close to 20 hours. I started using their jersey only this year. This too dries up quickly, really breathable and lightweight


    It’s almost like
    wearing nothing,”
    he says.

    Surve can hardly wait to make another attempt with a new time target on his mind. And this time around, it will be in the winter, when he can indulge in the many splendours of the trail just a little more.


    “I’ve experienced similar terrain and conditions, but this was a first in terms of a personal project and an FKT. It’s opened up this space for other runners and if I’m able to inspire someone to give it a go, I’ll be really satisfied,” he says.

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