Tuesday, June 3, 2014

For Liz and Adam!

Saturday was the big day. It was a day that had been percolating like a pot of coffee in my grandfather's electric coffee pot.

The British History Half Marathon had finally arrived.

I originally planned this route in October of 2012 and had hoped to run it last year. The grand plan was a themed run inspired by the Siege of Delhi in 1857. I had traveled to the Coronation Memorial Park a few years ago and it just happened to be about 12-14 miles from campus. An idea was born. Why not do a point-to-point half marathon that started at the Coronation Memorial, passed through some major landmarks from the Delhi Mutiny and finish at school?

Sadly, the run never happened last school year. For various reasons, I couldn't inspire enough people to join me. But this year, things were different.

I started promoting the run on our running group a few months ago, trying to drum up interest and give people enough time to get up to distance.

One of the runners I hooked for this run was Adam. As a high school history teacher, Adam was keen to join. If you look back at the blog you'll see that Adam has joined for pieces of other fun runs. He was along for the Old Delhi Half, the Tughlaqabad 18 Miler and last weekend's Goodbye 10 miler. He's always been supportive of my themed runs, especially my Delhi sight-seeing runs and my historical tidbit runs. Thanks for the donation friend, I look forward to many more runs with you next year!

Today's other donor, Liz, has been a running buddy for a long time. Liz was very excited to join us and had been building up, getting ready, until she suffered some running injuries that have put her out of commission. Sadly, she's moving away, so our next run is a bit of a question mark. That said, in the world of international schoolery, I've learned that anything can happen. Thanks for your generous donation and thanks for being a friend. I've loved the running we've done together over the years!

The run starts from the Coronation Memorial Park. This park was the original site of the three Durbars that were held on the location. The first was in 1877 and commemorated the ascension to the throne of Victoria. Another Durbar was held in 1903. The durbar of 1911 was the only one attended by the King, King George V. The photo below marked the starting line or our run, the state of George V that originally stood in the cupola behind India Gate. It was moved to Coronation Park in the mid-1960s and it sat in an overgrown, weedy circle with other deposed British statues for years. 

The last time I was at the park, I had to creep through a half-open fence and wandered among the statues and empty pedestals. This time, I arrived in caravan with the 10 other runners to find that the park had undergone a significant face-lift. The statues had been repositioned in a circle surrounding the obelisk commemorating the 1911 Durbar. Extensive sidewalks and buildings are also being built, with the promise of an elaborate park.

We set out on the run, down a busy and dirty street. My run stopped abruptly, with water pouring down my back. My hydration pack had sprung a leak. My friends leapt to my aid as soon as I yelled "Help!" One was unsnapping my bag, another was pulling out the bladder and the rest stood bravely by, laughing, realizing that I wasn't in fact, peeing my pants.

After some adjustments we continued toward Delhi University. A crowd of people were on their way somewhere, a rally(?) - a party(?). We'll never know, because they went right and we went left. The first adventure of the day was under way as we all passed through a gate that definitely suggested that our entry might be restricted. It wasn't, thankfully, and we cruised through the quad.

Heidi and Tara. And Gandhi.

The next stop on the tour was the Flagstaff Tower. During the 1857 mutiny, the British wives and children holed up here waiting for news. I tried my best to recollect the story as I told my tour group and suggested they read more about it on my website - wikipedia.org

Great group of supportive friends!
We continued through the Kamla Nehru Ridge, again surprised at what great green areas there are in the city and we hit our first detour. After we crossed the road, entered a private nursery and were encouraged to leave, we were faced with the dilemma of choosing left or right. I took it upon myself to choose right and off we went. In a big circle. I probably added close to a mile with this wrong turn. Sorry team. Once we were back on track, we were running up a long hill (!) filled with monkeys. Sorry Ted. The next sight to behold was the Mutiny Memorial. We convinced a guard to let us in and it was time for selfies.

The Mutiny Memorial was the last stop in the Ridge, so we left, ran along a gnarly busy road filled with cars, dust and sun for too long, then turned off in search of the Red Fort. We missed the Kashmeri Gate, which was the entry point to the city of Delhi in 1857 and an important battle sight. We did reach the Red Fort, though and were able to run along its moat.

Preparing to leave Old Delhi, we stopped by the Delhi Gate for a quick photo, then off to the Turkman Gate. 

Near the Turkman Gate, we stopped for a drink break.

Pictured: Getting Drinks
Pictured: Nonplussed Observer

After finally leaving Old Delhi, we cut through Connaught Place (more selfies!) and then started the final leg back to school. At this point, we had covered almost 14 miles and I was feeling good. The pace had been relaxed, I was feeling strong and it was fun.

Getting back to school, we made sure to loop around so we could all finish together. Our half marathon had turned into almost 16 miles, so people were pooped. With only four miles to go to reach the 20 miles mark, I had to add another loop. I was feeling good, so I decided to go for it. Bernie and Ted joined. The first mile was great. When we hit the park, suddenly the heat came on strong. We were in full sun and our legs finally started talking to us. The Nehru Park Loop record is around 10:40, but it took us over 14 minutes that day.

We pulled up to school, the MapMyRun lady whispered 20 miles in my ear and I was satisfied. It was a great day of running and a great day with my friends. You guys rock!

This run belongs to Liz and Adam!

I'm dedicating runs to raise money for a campship in memory of our friend Ty Taylor at YMCA Camp Miller. Click here or here to donate. Please make sure you choose the Ty Taylor Campship option. And please let me know if you've made a donation so I can thank you!

Distance - 20.27 miles
Time - 3:02:43 - Over three hours of running!
Soundtrack - Death From Above 1979, Nine Inch Nails, Panda Bear, Hy Brazil Vol. 1 ...

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