A person who connects with outdoor adventures and is passionate about ultramarathon and running – meet Sukrit Gupta, who completely fits the bill for the #IamLivingit series. From developing an interest towards a particular passion to mastering it with complete dedication, Sukrit is a true example of living your passions. Rachana from Team Livingit connected with Sukrit for the #IamLivingit series. Read the story to know about Sukrit, his passion for outdoor adventures especially running and ultramarathon, in particular.
Livingit: Introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sukrit Gupta: I am a climber and runner with an escalated interest in adventure. Currently, I lead marketing efforts at 4Play.in which is weaving Eastern Hemisphere’s first dedicated online content network for extreme and action sports.
Livingit: Why do you run? What does running mean to you?
Sukrit Gupta: Running is one of the easiest ways for me to relax. It’s while running that I get into my most creative headspace. Once I get into a rhythm I get into this subconscious stupor like dream.
Livingit: You started long distance running in 2014, was running a regular hobby/sport beforehand?
Sukrit Gupta: I had never run beyond a kilometre until November 2014. I was/am into sports but running or any other sort of endurance activity wasn’t a part of life.
Livingit: How did running develop from an interest into a passion?
Sukrit Gupta: I had been doing these motorcycling trips to Ladakh until 2014. And on each trip, I came across posters of LaUltra. I was intrigued by those posters and did some research on the internet. The idea of the race fascinated me and I wanted to run it but, until then the race was invitational.
So in October 2014, I was in this shack in Dehradun enjoying steaming momos with friends when I came across this poster on the Garhwal runs (a 75km ultramarathon from Dun to Dhanaulti) and how it was a qualifier for the La Ultramarathon. I decided there and then to participate. 50 days leading to the qualifier, each practice session shaped the interest into a passion.
Livingit: Living in the hills of Manali, would you recommend training on an incline rather than flat land? Why (or why not)?
Sukrit Gupta: Ever since I started running, I haven’t lived in the plains. First, I was living in my native village in Dehradun, then Nainital and now in Manali. So, I have been running only in the hills.
Even to the extent that I don’t know what running on flats will be like. So I am not in a position to speak about the merits or demerits of either. However, running in the plains never interested me even while I was living in Delhi. I love running on the winding trails and roads of the mountains. Also, I believe since uphills and downhills use different musculature, running in the hills takes the load off the body by alternating muscle groups in use.
Livingit: Why did you initially decide to tackle an ultramarathon?
Sukrit Gupta: It’s just the idea of running 111kms through Khardungla, which my bike was barely able to climb, that fascinated me. I did an ultra, to begin with only for that sole reason.
Livingit: How do you train for Ultramarathon?
Sukrit Gupta: The only strategy that I have been following since the time I got into the game, is, keep running. Keep accumulating a great time on foot and distance that tallies with your race goals. Supplement it with strength training, alternative workouts and rest days.
Livingit: What are 4 training suggestions you would give an amateur runner?
Sukrit Gupta: Increase training load gradually. Keep training regularly. Don’t worry about the gadgetry and fads in running, they are unimportant. Rest when you need to, listen to your body.
Livingit: In 2015, you qualified for and took part in the 111km category at La Ultra – The High, an Ultramarathon at an average altitude of 15,000 ft making it hard to catch a breath. Could you tell us about that experience?
Sukrit Gupta: This was indeed the dream run for me. A race that initiated me into long distance ultramarathon running. The whole experience was well organized. Kudos to Dr. Rajat Chauhan and his team. I had qualified and was running the 111km category. Running at 3rd position in the category, I was pulled out of the race at the 60km mark, 2-3 kms away from Khardungla top, on medical grounds. The doctors advising I had contracted HAPE due to a sudden gain in elevation. Although I believe it was mild bronchitis, but due to the lack of a sound medical check at the altitude I believe the doctors did what was best for me. This particular, incidence, however, has shaped me as an athlete. And I now have a better understanding of my physiology and capacities; and how I can push them to the next level.
Livingit: What are your 5 lines of advice for newbie runners with a goal to compete in Ultramarathon?
Sukrit Gupta: Train regularly, figure out a plan to gradually increase your load and build yourself up, keep running at smaller practice events leading up to the final race that you’ve picked up. never ignore strength training, nutrition, and rest.
Livingit: Although you describe yourself as not a fan of such organized events, are there any other races you took part in along with the Garhwal Runs (a 76km qualifier) and the La Ultra 111km section?
Sukrit Gupta: In addition, I also ran at the Nainital Mountain Half marathon. But no other running event apart from these 3.
Livingit: Tell us about your challenge to take up the 80km Pindari Ultramarathon Trail – a trekker’s trail which takes you through forests, villages, plains, riverbeds and landslides and hence normally would take a trekker 5 days to complete – in one day.
Sukrit Gupta: I planned on this project after LaUltra. I found organized running non-adventurous. Even at LaUltra, the race organizers had covered for the stay, food/nutrition while running, rest points, medical aid, navigation. All one has to do is to run. This I personally did not find exciting enough. So I wondered why not I organize I run for myself, doing it the way I want to. All I wanted was a mammoth distance to cover, through difficult terrain, in a stipulated time, with a reasonable risk of physical harm, and the stress of self-managing gear, food, and other supplies.
I also made the effort to film the entire experience in order to establish some level of credibility of the project:
Livingit: What trail/race is next on your bucket list?
Sukrit Gupta: There are two major projects that I want to spearhead this year:
1. Prepare a detailed free information product for trail runners, by GPS mapping high altitude trails around Manali.
2. Complete a sky running attempt on Mt. Friendship within 24hrs.
Livingit: What is the difference between running on tracks/roads and running off-road/on trails? Which appeals to you more?
Sukrit Gupta: Trail running appeals to me best. I get on the road only on days when the trails aren’t accessible or if I have to run errands around town. I find trails beautiful and even if you’re running the same trails over and again, there’d be something new each time.
Livingit: What does it mean to you to ‘Live your Passion’?
Sukrit Gupta: To be able to do what you love. For myself, I am practicing what I am most passionate about through my career in digital marketing of adventure and outdoor based content and through my pursuits in the outdoors.
Wishing Sukrit the very best in his adventurous journey of ultramarathon!