No obstacle too tough in this race
CHALLENGING LIMITS Obstacle running is catching up fast with other extreme sports and India’s Amit Kadian has shown potential to shine
NEW DELHI: For the residents of Beri, a small town in Jhajjar, Haryana, agriculture is the main occupation. And for the past couple of years, they have been witness to a rather odd sight as they toil on the fields.
A man runs around the fields with a tree trunk or a heavy sand bag on his shoulder under the hot sun. Sometimes he would crawl on the muddy field, and even jump into the canal nearby and swim for a distance. It causes amusement to the farming community, a sort of comic relief as they slog in the blazing sun.
For the man in focus though, Amit Kadian, the seemingly lunatic actions are all part of preparation for his passion --obstacle running --- and his hometown Beri provides the arena to perfect the art.
Kadian took to extreme sport in 2013. He tried his hand in ultra-marathons, ironman and other events before settling on obstacle running. In November 2016, he participated in his first international event, the Spartan Race Sprint in Hong Kong, finishing eighth.
He also competed in the 2017 OCR World Championships. Last year, he qualified for the Spartan World Championship in USA, but could not go due to lack of funds. He has qualified for the 2019 edition after his consistency in the Spartan circuit. “This is my strength. I did ultra-marathons and the Ironman 70.3 (half ironman) in Delhi, Hyderabad and Goa, but could not finish on the podium. I then competed in the Devils Circuit, one of the biggest obstacle races in India, and found this sport is my thing,” Kadian, 34, said. “Since then I am hooked to it.” Devils Circuit is proclaimed as the biggest obstacle running series in India. A typical event, it the organisers says, involves “running across a 5km raw terrain interspersed with 15 military-style obstacles.”
Along with the growing fitness fad, number of extreme sport enthusiasts is also expanding in India, be it ultra-marathon, track running or trekking. Obstacle running is one of the most popular events.
In India, the Devils Circuit, The Battleram and The Mud Rush are some of the most followed races. However, the disci- One has to throw the spear in one attempt and have it stick into the spearman (wood or hay). One has to crawl under barbed wire. Any packs/bottles must go through the obstacle. One has to hang from a rope 16 feet above the ground. The rope is caked with mud and water. pline is still at a nascent stage in the country. Abroad, obstacle racing has grown by leaps and bounds with Spartan and Tough Mudder two of the biggest races.
The challenge for the competitors ranges from off-trail running --- ranges from 3km to over 15km --- to crawling under barbed wire to spear throwing. Atlas lift (carrying a round stone weighing around 100 pounds for a short distance, past markers), rope climbing, wall scaling and swimming are some of the other obstacles. If a competitor fails to scale an obstacle, he or she will be penalised and must do burpees. Organisers may add new A racer has to carry a round stone of approximately 45 kg from one point to another, do five burpees and bring back the stone to the starting point. A bucket has to be filled with gravel and it has to be carried along a prescribed route.
obstacles if they see participants tire before reaching the finish line, to make the task harder. “Obstacle racing not just tests your endurance but your agility and strength.”
The paucity of training apparatus in India led to Kadian setting up his own training base. “I do one outdoor training (session) in Beri generally during the weekends. I have set up the obstacles myself simulating international races. It took a while but all this hard work was worth it once I started to see my progress in races. One has to pull himself/herself up a wooden board and slide on the other side. One has to hang from bars and carry himself/herself forward.
“I train for strength and grip in Delhi on a weekday. The gyms lack obstaclespecific equipment so most of the time I improvise, set up something that mimics the obstacles and challenges.”
Kadian also travels to other places to train for different conditions. “The race conditions are diverse. But in Asia it’s done under a hot sun where temperature usually goes up to 40 degrees Celsius. So, I try to train in all weather conditions.. I have also trained by going to Vaishno devi and taking less travelled paths to acclimatise to cold conditions.”
His wife Kajal is also an obstacle race Athletes have to drag a tyre over a certain distance. The tyre must be touching the ground at all times. One has leap over a wall of flame to claim the finisher’s medal. enthusiast and they plan to compete together. Kadian is a vegetarian and needs special diet, which Kajal helps oversee. “Nutrition-wise I focus on eating pure vegetarian home-made food, prepared by my wife. Ghee and milk is compulsory in the daily diet. Nutty gritties, dry fruits and green vegetables are also there to supply nutrients and essential minerals. I make it a point to eat seasonal fruits. I occasionally take protein supplements. I also take part in team races. My partners Ricky Ranjeet Sahni, who is based in Vietnam, and Sanket Bakshi, who is in New Jersey, also help me.”
Amit Kadian during a barbed wire crawl.
Amit Kadian poses with his haul of medals.