Saturday, April 23, 2016

For Michael! - Naked Guys, Car Crashes, Snakes and Wrong Turns

This run is for Michael! At a random discussion before work, my fundraising came up and he humbly reached into his wallet and donated without hesistating! Thanks a lot, I appreciate it. The Campship fund in memory of Ty Taylor is growing every day. Donate here -

The idea behind this run (and most of my runs, frankly), came from the desire to see a new part of town. I'm sure that idea would resonate with Michael, he's seen more of this city than I ever will.

We started out on familiar roads, headed toward India Gate. On the approach, we crossed a group of men walking down the sidewalk, escorting two completely naked men. It was likely that they were Digambara Jains, or possibly Naga sadhus. Each group focuses on attainment of their religious goals through asceticism taken to the extreme. No possessions means no clothes. 

I'm not quite sure what to make of what happened next. As we were crossing the street, an autorickshaw stopped to let us cross in front of him. While that in itself should have been the surprising thing (it never happens), it was what happened next which really shook me. As soon as the auto stopped, the car behind it smacked into it. After establishing that the drivers were okay and the damage was minimal, we continued on our way. Days of processing have left me at a point of confusion about systems thinking. I know we often present quite a sight in the streets of Delhi. While stark naked men may be passé, a group of foreigners running on sidewalks, streets, railroad tracks, etc., isn't. I had never considered us as potentially dangerous, I had only thought of us being in danger from cars, dogs, and worse.

And then, we saw this.

A man, asleep (we hope) on his motorcycle, parked in the middle of a four-lane highway. The traffic moved effortless around him. Thanks go to Adam for capturing the photo.

The goal of the day was to complete a long run (14 miles), visit Indraprastha Park, and see some new things. Less than five miles into the run and one of those goals had been accomplished in spades. The second goal was just around the corner. Running to Indraprastha Park is not ideal. You get there on busy roads. It's alongside the Ring Road, not far from the Yamuna. Without understanding exactly where in the city I was, I've seen the park from buses and cars several times but the green space it occupies on the map is conspicuous. The focal point of the park is a large Buddhist stupa.

The Stupa was envisioned as a symbol of enduring world peace and was dedicated in 2007 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It contains relics donated by him, The President of Sri Lanka, the President of Mongolia and the Prime Minister of Nepal.
Running to the park was eventful. Running in the park was quite nice. It was good to get off of the pavement and the park itself is quite big. But running out of the park...

The difficulties of the park's location became apparent as soon as we tried to get out. Like many parks in the city, there are few entrances/exits. We ran to the end of the park, met a wall and tried to shortcut out through a nursery. When no exit was in site, we turned around and Emma jumped into the air screaming. It was a snake. Add it to the list of things that could kill us on a run. NOTE: I'm just going ahead and assume it was a cobra. It couldn't possibly have been anything else.

The next section of the run was what I had feared it would be - along the edge of the Ring Road. It wasn't too long before we turned away from Delhi's most traffic-ridden artery. We did it at the Nizamuddin Railroad Station. At one point, I had dreams of crossing through the station over the pedestrian bridge, but after an a day of pushing the limits of my friends' trust, I decided not to. We quickly got lost, jumped a wall, turned around and found our way through the warren of alleyways in the railroad adjacent neighborhood. At one point, someone said that it was more intense that last weekend's Old Delhi run. They might have been right. An underground tunnel, a parade of rickshaws, the entrance to the station, hundreds of school kids, and then - Silence. Within 100 feet, we had gone from absolute craziness to complete serenity.

We had also lost almost of the group. Well, not lost, exactly. Much of the group that day isn't training for a big race like me, so they took off after 5, 7 or 10 miles. At the end, two of were left to run the remaining four miles home. It was hot, it was exhausting, it was a great accomplishment at the end of the route.

What a run!

Distance: 14.43 miles
Duration: 2:12:08
Soundtrack: A collection of Prince albums, of course. RIP.

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