Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Bengaluru’s Ullas Narayana and Delhi’s Apoorva Chaudhary will lead the 9- member Indian ultra runner’s challenge in the IAU 24-hour World Championship in Albi, France on 26-27 October.
Ullas Narayana, a veteran runner from Bengaluru who works in Vancouver (Canada) now, qualified for the World Championship by covering a mind-boggling 250.371 kms during the 24-hour Stadium Run a couple of months back.
Among women, Delhi’s Apoorva covered 176.8kms to become India’s top candidate and both will fancy their chances in the gruelling competition.
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.
Ullas Narayana (250.37 kms, Sunil Sharma (215.6 kms), BinaySah (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), Priyanka Bhatt (170 kms) and Shyamala Sathyanarayana(167.6 kms) among women, are the other contenders for India.
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.
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.
“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.
“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,” he added.