Bengalurean first Indian set to participate in 4 Deserts Ultramarathon
38-year-old Taher Merchant will be the first Indian to participate in the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon.
38-year-old Taher Merchant will be the first Indian to participate in the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon. He will run across the Namib desert in Namibia, the Gobi desert in Mongolia, Atacama desert in Chile and also in Antarctica. He will be completing 250 km in 7 days across some of the oldest and largest dunes, salt pans, wide-open plains and mountain outcrops.
Merchant wants to support education and to raise funds for disadvantaged children who have been impacted during the pandemic by the yawning digital divide and economic disparity. Being a father of two daughters, he is particularly concerned about girl children who have had to drop out of school and are now facing an uncertain future and possibly an early marriage.
Talking about the marathon he says, "The 4 Deserts Ultramarathon is a dream for any high endurance athlete. A gruelling self sustained 250-km race across some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I do not know what to expect. We don't have the weather or the terrain in Bengaluru to train for this. What I do know is that I have been putting in the miles and have been training very hard for a year to earn a place on the start line of this race."
He chose this race to see how far he can push the body and mind.
"This is a mean race. Running with 10 kgs of supplies for five days is going to definitely make you crumble. It is at times like that we have to be strong and that's the ultra mindset. This year I have also tied up with Oxfam India to raise funds to provide education to the underprivileged. Every step I take will help in providing education to a child. What can be more motivating than that?" Merchant tells The Hans India.
Merchant's training started during the lockdown.
"I started running distances of up to 42 kms inside my house. I also focused a lot on strength training at that time as well. Once restrictions were lifted I was training 6 days a week doing anywhere between a 100 km to a 125 km per week. All my runs are with weights on my back. I also do long walks whenever I can or when I am tired because you may not be able to run all the time but you can certainly walk," he elaborates.
Merchant cautions that for anyone to attempt this marathon there is a lot of time commitment.
Offering his insight further, "Once you are okay with that train well physically and train your gut. Get used to eating food out of your bag. Right nutrition is what is going to get you through the finish line. Once a week training runs must be atleast for 8 to 9 hrs on your feet and try to get a lot of uphills if possible. This training will help in climbing the dunes in the desert. Post training makes sure to recover well. Sleep is the best recovery for athletes.
Though active in sports he was not an 'adventurous type'.
"I could never imagine or picture myself running at the Everest or the Sahara. Trail running is what did it for me. I started it 2016 and realised it was more fun to run on trails in unfamiliar territory and navigate your way through. Later this is something I looked forward to every weekend and that's what made me pursue it further and made me a bit more adventurous in life," he sums up.