The dizzying altitudes of the LA Ultra in Ladakh, to the scorched terrain of the infamous Badwater – Kieren D’Souza’s ultrarunning wish list reflects his wanderlust. This thirst to run across the world goes back all the way to his childhood. “My father is in the Air Force. Growing up, I was raised in so many places,” reminisces Kieren.
Though he was always active in school, it wasn’t until 2010 that Kieren took the plunge into running. The desire to run came to him naturally, but the act of running itself would by no means, come easily. In fact, he was a DNF at his first 12K run. As Kieren was struggling to push through the initial difficult stages of the sport, he read about ultramarathons like the Badwater and the Western States, where athletes were doing inconceivable distances over some of the most punishing landscapes on the planet. Kieren remembers being completely intrigued by these ultra-distances and asking himself, “Am I capable of doing such distances someday?”
Well, he wasn’t going to wait around to find out. With his first TCS 10K and ADHM 21K done and dusted in 2011, he was raring to take a shot at the 100K category of the Bangalore Ultra in 2012. Graduating from a 21K to a 100K within a year, Kieren is clearly not a man who does anything by half measures. In 2012, ultramarathon glory was finally his, as he finished at Bengaluru in 11:58.
However, one of Kieren’s most significant sporting moments remains a DNF at the LA Ultra – the High 111K, where he missed the 50K cut-off by 7 minutes. “I felt like I crashed at the 48K mark, and missed the cut-off by 7 minutes. It was heartbreaking, but it taught me that dealing with failure is an essential part of sport”. One day, I hope to conquer the 111K and 333K at La Ultra.”
Kieren is currently training in Manali for the challenging climbs and the great views. At 21, this self-taught athlete is one of India’s youngest rising stars in the ultramarathon circuit. Ask him about his toughest race yet, and he says, “It’s always the next one.”
For Kieren, sport is a metaphor for life itself. By that measure, it sounds like Kieren’s life is going to be a never-ending ultra, where the vistas and the weather will change with time, but the drive to succeed will never wane.
Up Close, and Personal
To me, sport is…
A metaphor for life.
On a typical training day,
I am: early to bed and early to rise. I spend as much time as I can on my legs.
I eat: really simple food as far as possible, with lots of raw vegetables.
I wear: a tee for the most part, shorts, and my running shoes.
I listen: to the noise of the traffic in the cities, the flow of the river, and chirping of birds when I am in the hills or the forest.
I recover: from a long run or race by making sure that I keep moving. On regular training days, I try to rest as much as I can.
I cross-train: by cycling where ever I go, slacklining to improve my concentration, and I also throw in a bit of swimming.
My idea of an effective weight training session is
To keep it simple with body weight exercises.
The moment when I discovered my athletic potential was
In college, when I really started to enjoy running.
The three biggest lessons I have learnt so far in my athletic career is
Dealing with failure with maturity, humility, and developing the drive to succeed.
Before a big race, I tell myself
Take this one easy, and don’t start off too hard. (as if I ever listen!)
The toughest race of my life was
Always ‘The Next One’.
The most memorable moment of my sporting career so far
I am yet to impress myself with my performance, but as of now it’s the ‘DNF’ at the La Ultra – The High.
My training sanctuary is
Presently, the mountains of Manali, India.
My dream starting line is
This is one long list: 333 K La Ultra, Spartathlon, Hardrock, Western States, UTMB, Badwater, Dragon’s Back Race, Bob Graham Round, Marathon de Sables, and many more.
I nourish my soul with
reading, trekking, listening to music (I can’t really sing!).
Unived helps me by…
Unived RRUNN Post: To help me recover faster on a daily basis.
RRUNN Ultra Butter: Fuel’s my long days in the mountains.
I have chosen to associate with Unived because…
While I use various products on a daily basis and love them. I also like the people running Unived, their vision, product development, and involving us Athletes to develop products for athletes.
My favourite Unived product is…
RRUNN Ultra Butter & RRUNN Post Recovery Brew
For 2019, I am setting my sights on…
Deccan Ultra – Feb
Yading Sky Race – May
UTMB-CCC – August