First woman to do Manali-Leh run

Indian athlete Sufiya Khan has become the first female runner in the world to complete the 480km run from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh.

The 35-year-old started the ultra-marathon on Sept 25 and finished it on Oct 1, covering the distance in 156 hours.

She had to deal with altitudes ranging from 2,000m to 5,400m and manage temperature fluctuations during the difficult run.

The mercury dipped from minus 5 to minus 10 degrees Centigrade affecting the oxygen levels on mountain passes.

"I trained myself in the mountains and lived there for 15 days to acclimatise myself to the extremely cold weather and low oxygen levels," she said.

"Along with physical fitness, I focused on my mental fitness, which plays an important role when it comes to a run that is set to push one's limits.

"I am sure with this achievement I will be able to encourage more athletes to push their boundaries and unlock their potential."

This is not the first challenging route the Sufiya has undertaken.

Last year, the former airline professional completed the Golden Quadrilateral highway network which is spread across 6,000km and connects the four major Indian metros - Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

With Covid-19 disruptions in between, she did the run in 110 days, 23 hours and 24 minutes.

In 2018, she ran the Golden Triangle, Delhi-Jaipur-Agra, which covers 720km in 16 days.

In 2019, she ran the Srinagar to Kanyakumari route of 4,000km in 87 days, two hours and 17 minutes.

It was the fastest time by a female runner, according to the Guinness World Records.

For Sufiya it is important to break a run into little targets and milestones.

"Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Golden Quadrilateral runs were all road running," she said. "Our strategy there was 50-60km a day."

"Manali to Leh is a challenging route with harsh weather, low oxygen levels, high passes and high altitude, so I needed to do 100 kilometres a day. I got only 3-4 hours of sleep and had to be running all the time."

Sufiya is planning to do many big runs in the coming years. The biggest she wants to do is "running around the world".

"I want to circumnavigate the world by running and I am preparing myself for it," she said.

Indo-Asian News Service


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