The first time i heard about the Kaveri Trail Marathon, or KTM as it is commonly referred to, was when I was working out in a gym in Hyderabad, two summers ago. I was pounding away the kilometers on the treadmill, and a beefy guy walked up to me later and asked me if I do long distance runs. I said yes, and he asked me if i’d ever heard of the KTM. I never had. At that time i was a novice runner and i’d never run an official marathon. The news of such an event happening in the same state as my college naturally piqued my interest, and i went and looked it up online. I liked what I saw, and registered for the 10k run. Now two years and a 10k and half marathon later, I’d like to share with you all some tidbits of information and my experience of running this beautiful trail along the river Kaveri.
- YES YOU READ IT RIGHT! – The route planned for the KTM is a trail alongside a canal of the river Kaveri, in a small town called Srirangapatna, near Mysore. Since this is an irrigation canal, the trail you run on takes you through beautiful green fields, vivid and fresh after the monsoon. The route starts off right next to the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, where the painted stork, Asian openbill stork, common spoonbill, woolly-necked stork, black-headed ibis, lesser whistling duck, Indian shag, stork-billed kingfisher, egret, cormorant, Oriental darter, and heron breed regularly. The great stone plover, and river tern also nest here. The park is home to a large flock of streak-throated swallows as well. Birds, the river gurgling right next to you, fresh morning air and greenery all around makes for an unforgettable experience.
- Surrounding Towns and Cities – As mentioned before, the running trail lies in a small town called Srirangapatnam, barely half an hour’s drive away from the Cultural Capital of Karnataka and the erstwhile Capital of the Mysore Kingdom, Mysuru. Srirangapatnam has religious, cultural and historical importance, being one of the most important Vaishnavite centres of pilgrimage in South India, the capital of Mysore under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, and the site of the last and decisive battle fought between Tipu Sultan and the East India Company.Mysore is notable for its palaces, and the Dussera festivities which take place in September/October, which receives a significant amount of tourists every year from all over. It’s also famous for its food, the silk industry, and more recently, the IT industry.
- Roots – The KTM started off essentially as a practice run for the Bangalore Ultra 2007, organised by Runners for Life (RFL), as they felt the need to condition themselves to the tough terrain and harsh conditions of the Ultra. Someone suggested the trail along the Kaveri, and thus the marathon came into existence. Over 150 runners participated in the first ever KTM, supported entirely by friends and family members. 9 editions later, this year KTM will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.
- A well organised race – The KTM is perhaps one of the best-organised races in the country. Runners For Life organise the Kaveri Trail Marathon, along with the Bangalore Ultra and Urban Stampede, a multi-city event that aims to get more and more people running country-wide. They are consulted for racing events across the country, they publish a newsletter about running and help local running groups function. And their experience shows: Transport is arranged both to and from the base of the marathon. There are at least 4 water and refreshment stalls, along with loos and aid stations along the 10 kilometre one-way route. Timing chips are handed out with the racing bibs for professional grade marathon time-keeping. Pre-race energy drinks, glucose biscuits and water is supplied, and a healthy breakfast post-race. Volunteers are ready to help at all stages of the run, from handing out ORS glasses to clicking away your soon-to-be profile/cover photos 😉
The Active Holiday Company has also come together with RFL to offer a Tourism package to runners. In their own words,
The Active Holiday Company has come together with RFL to bring you a seamless travel experience that will leave you fresh, energized and even inspired to run the best trail race you have ever run. This package is great for those who want to travel to Mysore and back on their own but want those little details looked after along with the opportunity to bond with fellow runners! After all, a marathon should be all about running a good race and not about coordinating travel arrangements.
- Participation – KTM sees people participating from not only all over the country, but from outside of it as well. You get to chat with your fellow runners before the race, during and after it. You’ll find people from all walks of life, as young as 10 years old to as old as 60 years of age. You might find your next role model or become someone else’s at KTM!
- Medal and a Soak – As soon as you cross the finish line, you’ll be garlanded with a sweet medal, and then you can dip your tired feet (or your entire self) into the delighfully cool and refreshing waters of the Kaveri in one of the culverts alongside the trail. Trust me, there’s no better feeling in the world right there and then. You’ll feel all your pain being drained away from your body by the gushing waters and you just wouldn’t want to leave for a long, long time. And just that experience will make you want to keep coming back, year after year.
The Kaveri Trail Marathon isn’t just a run, it’s a demanding, and ultimately rewarding experience for each and every one of your senses. Once you get hooked, you wouldn’t want to miss it for the world!This year the Kaveri Trail Marathon will be held on 17th and 18th September.
KTM website here.