Samir Singh’s 100 x 100 journey

Samir Singh’s 100 days x 100 km endurance feat is unbelievable, scary, yet inspiring all at once. While much has been covered about the statistical aspects about his running challenge, 2GO sought insights into his psyche and physical preparations as he went through this grueling affair.

Vikram Bhatti and his sister Vandana who have become his good friends through the 100 x 100 period, help manage him. Vikram was able to give us a glimpse of what Samir chose to put himself through just to prove that the body is what the mind believes.

According to Vikram, Samir took up this challenge knowing the demands of ultra-endurance running. He had completed the Vadodra Ultra (and a few others) and trained extensively in Vrindavan prior to starting this ultra-distance in Mumbai. He was aware that his body could fall apart and that ultimately the mind would have to carry him through to the end.

For an ultra-marathoner, a 100 km run can take weeks to recover from. One of Samir’s biggest puzzles to solve was recovery. To complicate matters, he already had a bad right knee. Samir arrived at a few solutions to help him achieve his daily distance target and manage recovery.

Firstly, he split the 100KM per day into a 60 km run and a 40 km run with a longish lunch break between the two. The two runs were also broken into short hydration breaks where he replenished with coconut water. Initially, his lunch breaks were short as he wanted to get back to covering the distance. However he realized that taking a longer lunch break would help him sustain this crazy schedule for longer. He would shower during his lunch break before the second run.

Secondly, Samir realized that he had to tweak his running gait since his right knee was not in great shape. He put more body weight on the left leg and had a peculiar gait for every step with his right foot landing on the toe and left foot on the heel.

Thirdly, diet was a major factor in fuelling and sustaining himself. Samir is a pure vegetarian and ate only Satwik foods with Idli Sambhar for breakfast and dal rice, vegetables and boiled potatoes for lunch along with some dry fruits. He also consumed a protein supplement.  While running he carried dates in his pocket which energized him. He also ate certain Indian sweets occasionally for a boost. In order to become this running machine, Samir stuck to this diet religiously. Any deviations caused upset stomach given the physical stress.

Samir Singh has run through the searing summer and the brutal Mumbai monsoons. He has experienced the soles of his feet tearing apart which forced him to run with shoes (he prefers barefoot running). During the monsoons, the rain destroyed his shoes and made his knees swell. People who saw him run were shocked and some who noticed him on the same route daily became his friends. There were also some people who saw him on hydration breaks and mistook him for a beggar or a drug addict given his scrawny physique.

Through it all there were many days of boredom, monotony and frustrations. To keep the runs interesting Samir would run on the beach, near the sea water and change up his routes. However there were many times he would  tell his friends including Vikram that he wanted to suspend this run as he didn’t think he could go on.  Vikram believes that what is amazing about Samir is the next morning he would embark on a new 100K as if he had never felt any frustrations the previous day. The man was relentless and never lost his inspiration.

On the 100th day, Samir unfortunately fell short of the 10,000 km target by 36 km. The 96th day turned out to be a roadblock as he was hospitalized briefly for a stomach infection. Samir sadly lost out on time and distance. Upon being discharged, Vikram recalls seeing Samir slowly jog out of the hospital – clearly, a real life running machine! He tried to push harder on the remaining days to cover the distance deficit. However, on day 100, true to word he stopped this challenge and accepted the outcome.

As 100 x 100 is still sinking in for Samir and he tries to get back to his day job (he is a running coach), one takeaway from his mindset is that life does not need to be lived in a format. In the running world, Samir was not well known. He neither had the resources nor the exposure to participate in international races. Instead he chose to make his own running formats and pursued his own finish line satisfying only himself. We wonder what insurmountable endurance challenge he will take up next! Our best wishes to him.