India’s top 9 ultra runners, led by Mumbai’s Priyanka Bhatt, will be aiming for glory in the IAU 24-hour World Championship in Albi, France over this weekend.
Priyanka, who started running just 4 years back, qualified for the World
Championship by covering 170 kms in the 24-hour Bengaluru Stadium Run 2019 a few
months back. So far, she has completed 13 Ultra Marathons, 7 Marathons and 22 Half
Marathons and is hopeful of making an impression in this gruelling event.
The 9 runners, including 5 men and 4 women, have been selected by the
Athletics Federation of India, and are being sponsored by IDBI Federal Life
Insurance, which holds various marathons in India, and NEB Sports. A five-
member support crew, including 3 ultra marathon runners and a leading sports
medicine specialist, are part of the travelling contingent.
“At IDBI Federal Life Insurance, we are strongly committed to the cause of
health and fitness. Supporting the sport of ultra-running is another step in this
direction,” the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Karthik Raman said. “We are
delighted to see India field such a strong team this year. We are confident of
some great results as the team has been preparing very hard at a training
camp, with valuable inputs from coaches, nutritionists and physiotherapists,”
The world’s top marathoners and ultra runners from 45 countries, including
women’s world record holder Camille Herron (USA), are competing in this
prestigious event this year. Those who run the maximum distance over the 24
hours in their respective categories will be crowned world champions.
Ullas Narayana (250.37 kms, Sunil Sharma (215.6 kms), Binay Sah (222.240
kms), Pranaya Mohanty (211.6 kms) and Kanan Jain (207.2 kms) among men
and Apoorva Chaudhary (176.8 kms), Hemalata Saini (172.3 kms) and
Shyamala Sathyanarayana (167.6 kms) among women, are the
other contenders for India.
“India is an emerging power in the world of ultra running,” NEB Sports’ Nagaraj
Adiga said. “Our team members will surely surpass their previous bests and
this will be a huge boost for the sport in India. I hope to see new Indian records
at these Championships, and while we may still be some distance from the top
2-3 teams, we would like to see the gap between us and the best narrow
significantly,” he added.
India started participating in IAU events only in 2017, and has already made a
mark by winning both an individual and team bronze at the 24-hour Asia
Oceania Championships held in Taipei in December 2018.