A: It feels great to be the first female to attempt such a feat. I was a little nervous before the run because it was my first time running on such terrain. Moreover, I heard stories from locals and Army Personnel about this route when I was acclimatizing there, that due to high altitude and lack of oxygen, many people lost their lives even when they were travelling by vehicles. However, I prepared myself mentally for this grueling expedition. When I was at the finish line, I was surprised that I survived and happy that I am the first female to complete this run.
Q: The most gruelling stretch, the most beautiful stretch and the best view?
A: The grueling stretch was after Sarchu, The Gateway of Ladakh Valley. After entering Ladakh from Himachal Pradesh, there was no road for almost 10 km. It was all dust and heavy pollution due to trucks, road construction machines and I had to run through that stretch. There was no other way to cross that part. It was at a high altitude, so due to less oxygen, I was unable to wear a mask. Post this stretch, the Ghata Loops (21 hairpin band roads) started. I experienced real hell that day.
The most beautiful stretch was after Rumtse village towards Leh. Purple and red Mountain structures and the Indus River made for a stunning view. It was my last day when I was running through that stretch.
The best view was from Tanglang La pass. On one side it was Moore Plains, Debring and big show mountains and on the other side, it was Purple Mountain structures of Upshi and the stunning Ladakh Valley.
Q: You are a two-time Guinness World Record holder, are you glad that brands like Under Armour are recognizing lesser-known athletes like yourself and giving you a platform to get a little closer to your dreams?
A: I am associated with Under Armour for almost two years now and it’s been an honour. I draw a great deal of inspiration from their philosophy. The brand’s core values resonate with my own and push me to give in my very best. I believe together we can push the limits of human potential and further encourage and motivate every budding athlete to push their boundaries and step out of their comfort zones
Its world-class gear and apparel helped me to improve my performance in my game.
Q: Five major passes or 60 per cent oxygen levels, which is harder?
A: I will say 60 per cent oxygen level is harder. With a low oxygen level, it is very hard to even walk on plains. Because you can easily train yourself for high elevation, but it is hard to train for running in low oxygen areas. I acclimatized myself very well before the run but still faced challenges. I fainted twice due to low oxygen levels. There was a time when my body oxygen level dropped to 59 per cent and I fainted. I was running and suddenly was lying on road. But my support team helped me recover quickly and start the run again.
Q: How big a role does mental fitness play in preparing for something like this?
A: It was all a mental game to complete such a task. High passes, bad roads, low oxygen levels and harsh weather challenges you every single mile from starting to end. If you are mentally not ready to face such things, then you cannot even survive for one day. The human body is designed to survive in extreme conditions, so all we have to do is train our minds. If your mind gives up, then your body will not even drag for a step. I was mentally strong for those gruelling conditions, so my body kept moving ahead. However, physical fitness is equally important to prevent injuries.
Q: What’s next on the cards?
A: There are many projects in line in the coming future which I will reveal soon, but my biggest project is “Running around the world”. I want to circumnavigate the world by run and I am preparing myself for it.