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Running and trekking in the Kolli hills isn’t something alien to me, I have had the good opportunity to experience the sheer bliss of running and trekking on the beautiful and unexplored trails of Kolli hills few times earlier. However, my experience of running at Val Vil Ori Ultra was unique, distinctive and very humbling.

Akash ganga waterfalls - Val Vil Ori Ultra

During the run – I stood to gaze at the starlit sky, I walked along the streams, I ran cherishing the views of breathtaking waterfalls, I admired the peaks piercing into the clouds, I was refreshed by the melody of tweeting birds, I was energised by the sight of green paddy fields, and the pleasantness in mountain breeze kept me on my legs. Not even for a moment nature left me alone in the entire course, I was completely engaged and overwhelmed.

Pre Race day with waterfalls:

The mystical and magical kolli hill is immensely blessed with good number of striking and refreshing waterfalls. We chose to take a dip in the mighty Akash ganga and beautiful Masila waterfalls and spent our pre-race day in the green paddy fields, splashing in the water and tasting delicious local food.

Pre race day - val vil ori ultra

In the light of billion stars trotting on hills:

The run was flagged off at 4 a.m with the mountains, glittering stars, new moon, chill breeze and trees standing as witness. Slowly my legs started trotting but my heart was filled with the wonderful sight of the starlit sky – a beauty which our cities have lost to light pollution. During my solitary run I crossed few villages, hair pin bends, paddy fields, thick forest patches but the calmness found in the mountain, chillness in the breeze, and the gorgeous valleys lit by stars conspired together to fill my heart and soul. I self-realised that nature is going to be my partner for the run and it is never going to let me down.

Group pic - Val Vil Ori Ultra

Mountain villages, friendly people, barking dogs – the Course:

The 26 km course is stitched between calm and beautiful villages in the mountain, which are welcomed by green paddy fields followed by barking dogs which kept me on toes. At times the kids of the village greeted me, an old lady from a village offered me water to drink, but most of them whom I met had this question why am I running here. The question was very fundamental and basic but I could not give a fitting reply and I left them with a smile. Nevertheless, it was a delight to meet the villagers and pass through these peaceful villages and happy villagers.

Kolli hills village scene - val vill ori ultra

Steep ups and downs, the Sun – Major Challenges:

It was about 9 a.m the sun was slightly peeping out of the clouds and I started feeling little drained but I still kept trotting alone at my own pace and my mind quickly realised that by this time my brother lawyer (charged with accusations for rash running) would have flown across the 52 kms course. In fact one the uniqueness in the finishing line up for 52 kms runners was that the first and last finishers were lawyers.

Although it was a rolling course, it had few kilometres of steep ups and downs making my heart pound faster and restricting my leg movements. Indeed, without these challenges the run wouldn’t have been challenging and memorable.

Sri - Val vil ori ultra

The last two kilometres:

Hitherto, of the 17 full marathons that I have run in different parts of India except for the mails through which I have known the organiser I have never had the opportunity to meet them in person. I was pleased and surprised to see the mastermind behind the event himself waiting for me at the 50k mark not only to feed me with refreshments but he chose to run the final leg with me. My completely exhausted legs slowly started to trot and it was a great honour for me to have completed my last 2 kms along with him and being garlanded by a lovely medal.

Finishing pic - val vil ori ultra

Hope now I stand justified as to why I took 8 hours to complete 52 kms distance.

Happy Running,

Durai Murugan


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