‘Sole sisters’ Sunita Tummalapalli and Anuradha Kalidindi ran 13 marathons in 2013 and feel running is more of a mind game

At the Chennai marathon held on December 1, two women from Hyderabad caught attention. Their tees had the print ‘sole sisters’ and a list of 13 marathons they completed this year. Early this year, Sunita Tummalapalli and Anuradha Raju Kalidindi decided to run one marathon each month. Then, they were caught with the fancy of completing 13 marathons in 2013. The two friends began running in their late 30s and have been participating in marathons for the last five years together. The 13-marathon deal was a test of their endurance and commitment levels.

“We wanted to push ourselves,” says Sunita, who started running on a whim. What began as a means of fitness soon became a passion. This year, the duo took part in six marathons together and others individually.

The 13 marathons Sunita and Anuradha completed were a mix of trail runs, high-altitude runs and city marathons. They ran through different weather conditions, met runners in different countries and took in the beautiful sights of cities where they ran. The pine forests of Himachal’s Sangla Valley and the run at Ladakh, says Sunita, were challenging given the high altitudes and low oxygen levels. “Those runs were beautiful and left me energised. The Chennai marathon, however, turned out to be tiresome. I couldn’t cope with the humidity. Normally, you hit a wall around 25 km, keep pushing yourself till 32 or 35 km and then it becomes easy since you’ve covered most of the distance. I was drenched in sweat after the first two kilometres in Chennai. Anu kept encouraging me,” she says.

Anuradha mentions the daunting periodicity of some of the marathons. “I barely had two weeks between Istanbul and Chennai marathons. It’s not just about travelling and running. You also need to factor in family responsibilities,” she says. The Ladakh run, she says, was challenging. “We ran through strange conditions. For an hour, we were in the middle of a sandstorm and felt we were running into nowhere. My nose was dry and began bleeding,” she recounts.

Sunita and Anuradha converted their personal travel plans to opportunities to run new marathons. Sunita had to travel to the US twice this year to meet her son and then her husband and used these opportunities to participate in five runs. Similarly, Anuradha went to visit her two sons in the US and chose to participate in marathons close to where they lived. Of all the runs, Anuradha picks Mumbai and Istanbul as her favourites for different reasons. “Istanbul was so beautiful that we didn’t feel the strain of running. We were mesmerised by the city,” she says. A group of 19 members of Hyderabad Runners group participated at the Istanbul marathon. Anuradha was awed by the crowd support in Mumbai. “People were cheering all through the run, which rarely happens in India,” she says. Mumbai is where she clocked her personal best of 4:52:08.

The ‘sole sisters’ haven’t chalked out their plans for 2014 as yet. As of now, they want to take it easy but are sure they’ll get back to running sooner than they think. “I might try and participate in the 75-km ultra marathon in Bangalore next year. The longest I’ve run is for 50km in Delhi this year,” smiles Anuradha.

Enhanced fitness and confidence levels, new friends and travel are all by-products of running. It’s a mind game, says Anuradha. “Of course one needs to train. But once you get over the mind block, it’s easier to run.”

Anuradha’s 13

January 1: Hyderabad

January 20: Mumbai

Feb 10: Auroville

March 16: Washington DC, USA

April 7: Knoxville, USA

May 5: Pittsburgh, USA

June 2: Minneapolis, USA

Jul 21: Ladakh

August 25: Hyderabad

Sep 15: Kaveri trail, Mysore

October 27: Bhatti Lakes, Delhi

November 17: Istanbul, Turkey

December 1: Chennai, India

Sunita’s 13

January 20: Mumbai

Feb 10: Auroville

March 30: Corbett

April 14: Chandigarh

May 3: Sangla Valley

June 2: Minneapolis, USA

June 16: San Francisco, USA

Jul 21: Ladakh

Sep 1: Bearskin Trails, USA

Sep 22: Foxvalley River, USA

October 13: Chicago, USA

November 17: Istanbul, Turkey

December 1: Chennai, India