By Yeshwini Shetty Athlete ChatsUnived Athlete Rahul Beakta

Crushing peaks and Conquering Solang, with Rahul

Early this October, Unived Athlete Rahul Beakta debuted in his first 100K at the Solang SkyUltra 2022. He crushed the race by clocking a stunning 19:26:02 and placing second on the podium while also timing the second-best course record.

Rahul has had a strong racing season this year with a 5th place at Vagamon Ultrail 60K where he timed a 8.33. He later focused on training for the Solang SkyUltra and ran ‘The Himalayan Expedition Silk Route’ as a training run where he placed first.

All of his races were backed by solid training blocks which led us to witness some excelling performances by him. After the 100K at Solang, we had the chance to chat with him to understand his training, racing, and nutrition & fuelling strategy. Read on to learn more about Rahul’s race story and his most memorable moments on the trail.

What were your expectations going into the race?

Being my first 100K Mountain Ultra Trail, I knew it was going to be hard but I was confident from my training and past experiences from shorter categories in this race. My target was to finish this race under 20hrs and I was excited about it. I had great support and well wishes from my friends and my community.

How do you think you did and what are your learnings? Is there anything you think that you could have done differently?

Honestly, I think it was my lucky day as everything worked really well. I could achieve my target time and got the second place with the second fastest course time.

I think I ran the first half slower than what I could actually run, as a result, it cost me a huge gap with the lead runner in the second half. This is something that I have kept in mind for my future races.

What was race-day like?

Well, I call Solang my home and was already there a month in advance for training and route recce. So, I was familiar with every section of the trail. During the night section, it was cold which was not an issue for me. It snowed and washed out just 2 days after the race.

Thanks to the weather gods it was fine on the race day. I had so many friends, runners and race volunteers cheering for me on the course. It was a great moral booster seeing everyone cheering at 60K aid station at Solang.

Tell us a little bit about your race strategy…

I divided the race in parts like the Bhrigu Lake segment or the Lady Leg segment. I had run every section of the trail at least twice so I knew how much time I was going to take. The drop bags with my nutrition support were kept accordingly so that I could take Gels/Drink Mix at every hour. The plan was to run the difficult sections like the Death Climb and Bhrigu Lake slower and push myself at the Beas Kund section where a pacer was allowed. It was challenging to do the Beas Kund section twice during the night but my pacer- Unived Ambassador Mukul Dahiya did a fantastic pacing job when I was struggling to run downhills.

According to you, how important is acclimatization & route recce considering the weather conditions and the altitude?

The race start at the Solang SkyUltra is at 2800m atlitude and the total climb on the race course is up to 4200 Meters. Being a very technical race in the Himalayan terrain, acclimatization and route recce becomes the most important aspect to focus on before the race day.

I was there for 1 month and did some good training on the race course. Also, I did the Silk Route Trail race a few weeks before the race which gave me the confidence to run on similar terrain at the Solang SkyUltra. I also trained at the Beas Kund and Lady Leg during the night, so yes, in terms of preparation, I was well prepared for this race.

How much of your Fuelling Kit are you carrying in the Hydration Vest?

I was carrying 4 Gels and 4 Drink Mix with 2L of water and stopped only to refill the water at each water station. I was also carrying 1 rain jacket in my hydration vest. I made it a point to not carry too much weight.

I don’t eat fruits or sandwiches at aid stations so I would only stop to refill water for the Drink Mix; this really helped me to save a lot of time. I kept 3 drop bags, where, I had the Recovery Mix, Gels and Drink Mix to carry further. With this strategy, I was able to save time and also keeping my nutrition game on point.

Meals before, during and after the race?

I don’t prefer to eat a lot before the race so, I had 2 bananas and 1L of Unived Hydration Mix. During the race, my plan was to make sure I have 1 Unived Elite Gel and 500 ML Drink mix every hour and take Recovery Mix and Salt capsules at every 5-6 hrs.

I took a total of 14 Gels and 12 Elite Drink Mix, 3 Recovery mix and a daal rice bowl once at 60K.

At the night section while climbing Lady Leg twice, I was taking the Endurance gels very frequently at an interval of 20-30 mins.

 You’ve done Solang 30K, 60K and 100K. Out of all the distances you’ve raced so far, which category are you most confident running?

I think I like more long distance/duration races with huge technical climbs. I would say 100K is my favourite distance at Solang. Also in this category, one gets to enjoy more views especially while climbing the Bhrigu lake, this section is personally my favorite.

What’s the next race on the calendar for you?

Buddha Trails 65K is my main race and I will be running the Malnad Ultra 50K as a training run for it.

Lastly, what’s your advice for athletes who want to train for an ultra-distance trail like 100K?

Build endurance gradually and focus on high weekly mileage. Be familiar with the terrain and if it’s a mountain trail like Solang make sure to acclimatize well and do the route reccee as well. I suggest you to have a training partner who is also training for the same race to keep the training journey exciting.

Nutrition plays a very important role in such distance races, so do try everything in your training runs.  Make to have a good race plan and divide distance/sections in parts. And most importantly, make sure to have fun during the training and the race.

Fast 5 with Unived…

Your first phone call after a race…

It was my father who was awake till midnight and wanted to check if everything was alright.

Favorite Unived product…

Elite Drink Mix and Recovery Mix

Most memorable race moment…

60K Aid station at this race where everybody was cheering for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th,and 5th place runners all of whom who happened to come out at the same time. Great competition!

A race ritual you never miss…

I don’t have any but, I always make sure to have a proper dinner and get some good sleep the night before the race.

A life-lesson that being a runner has taught you…

Dream big and don’t let the failures stop you.

About Rahul:

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