Soul Run looks at why people do long runs

Padmalatha Ravi, a runner herself, wanted to find out what drives peopel to take up ultra running  

It is pitch dark and a man speaks as he runs; you can hear the breath, the silence, and you can see a head torch bobbing about in the darkness.

That is Bhupendrasing Rajput, running in the night in The Himalayan Crossing 2016, running at night as part of his 338 kilometre run, in 77 hours and 20 minutes! That and the image of two runners pushing the limits against the stark and arid Rann of Kutch are images that stay with you from Padmalatha Ravi’s film Soul Run.

The journalist-filmmaker-runner is just back from Spiti Valley where the last part of her film was shot. Two runners ran 338 kilometres and 168 kilometres, respectively, at an altitude of almost 4,500 metres, points out Padma. “High altitude running is tough. Even we, filming them, had many issues. Imagine what the runners must be going through…our cameraman had to be sent back as he fell ill.”

Ultra runs are those that are more than the average marathon (42 kilometres). There are many categories and distances (you can pick your choice) of Ultra Runs – trail running, city running, last week in Bengaluru some runners clocked 36 hours and 236 kilometres within the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium. “The shortest standard distance is 50. Runners take on 100 kilometres, 100 miles or more. The distance is covered anywhere between six hours to six days in the harshest conditions,” she adds.

“It is an endurance run. After a while, the physical endurance is just one aspect of it. My film focuses on why people want to push limits like these. These are people who run on weekends within the city to train – doctors, students, software engineers. I wanted to know what drives them.” The film’s name in fact came from the fact that one runner told her that he did this to connect with his soul.

Padma had been running for almost four years with Bengaluru-based group, Runner’s High, where she would volunteer to help people doing these crazy distances and met Kavitha Kanaparthi, who heads Globeracers — a group of endurance athletes, which also organises such marathons. In October 2015, Padma went along to cover the Salomon Bhatti Lakes Ultra 2015, which happens on the border of Delhi and Harayana. “It was 44 degrees. It was a treacherous run – there were thorns, sand, and the route’s character changed every few kilometres. I got excited about making a film on this.” The next run she covered was the Run of Kutch in February 2016. “That is when I decided I will do this as a full-fledged documentary.”

“The hardest thing to capture in this film was the struggle, because it is not a physical struggle. It is in the mind.” This is Padmalatha’s second crowdfunded film, after Good Girls Don't Dance in 2013, which was screened at the Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival and Madurai International Film Festival.

The film has been a year in the making. And through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, Padma has raised nearly Rs. 5 lakh. Her total budget for the film is 11 lakh, to cover travel, equipment hire, and post production. Part of the funds raised will be donated to Globeracers’ Athletes’ Fund, which enables deserving athletes to participate in major races across the globe, she adds. “Ultra running is not exactly a sexy sport to watch. So it was hard to find funding; documentaries in general are hard to fund,” she points out. She hopes to release the film by November this year online or theatrically.

The film’s crowdfunding campaign is open another week. Look up

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 2:23:23 PM |

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