We're heading off to India for a virtual running tour of Hyderabad with our local guide, Lipi.
Tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with running?
My name is Lipi Kalita. I'm originally from Assam (North east India) but I now live in Hyderabad (South India).
I started running in 2019. Before that, I used to do cycling and kick boxing although running played a small part in my workouts. In 2018, I had an accident which resulted in an oblique tibial shaft fracture in my left leg. Due to this injury, I was bedridden for many months. The injury affected me mentally and I became anxious and depressed. After one year, I learned how to walk again. Getting up and doing things wasn't always on the front of my mind during the time I was depressed, I would sometimes live my days as a zombie. I then read an article about how running helps to lower levels of anxiety and stress. I started running and I loved it.
Running has helped me both physically and mentally. It was an antidote to all my negative feelings. With no goal on my mind, I continued to run, just because of the way it made me feel.
I discovered trail running through my friend and fell in love with it. I started with 11km trail run and then with the help of my friend / coach, Gautam Pothineni, I finished a 65km ultra trail within two years of starting running. If its possible to become addicted to running then yes, I think I am!
Describe the running culture in Hyderabad?
When I first came to this city, I was amazed to see the strong running culture here. You will see people running in every corner of the city. It's becoming contagious!
Many people are taking up running to improve their fitness. We have 30 plus running groups in the city operating under Hyderabad Runners. There are hundreds of dedicated, passionate runners and a number of good coaches who provide group training, personal training and training plans.
Where are the best places to run in Hyderabad?
Hyderabad Botanical Garden
My most favorite place to run is the Hyderabad Botanical Garden located in Kondapur. The park boasts a collection of smooth runnable dirt trails as well as cool greenhouses, coy ponds and a variety of flora. A loop around the ground is about 3.5km. You will also get to see peacocks roaming the grounds. Strava
Kasu Brahmanandha Reddy National Park (KBR)
Another good training option is KBR Park, situated in Jubilee Hills. The most common route in the park is the 4km peripheral jogging track.
Golconda Fort - Hill Training
G. M. C. Balayogi Athletic Stadium
Apart from trails and roads, for track sessions, one can visit the Gachibowli Athletic Stadium. It is a multi-purpose stadium which has an eight-lane 400m running synthetic athletic track, a ten-lane 100m sprinting track and a four-lane warm up synthetic track. Strava
Are you a member of a running club in Hyderabad?
Yes, I am a member of Hyderabad Runners Society. This is the first not-for-profit society in India to standardise running. They have year-round training sessions, organised weekend long runs and events. They strongly believe that running breaks several societal barriers which do not allow people to come together otherwise. With this belief, Hyderabad Runners Society works towards creating a stronger community in the city.
With 6000 plus strong running members, every year the club pulls together one of India's largest marathons, ably aided by a strong team of volunteers.
Where is the best place to buy running gear in Hyderabad?
We have showrooms like Decathlon, Nike, Adidas and Puma that offer mainstream running gear. Unfortunately, for trail running shoes (and particularly for females), they lack range and availability.
We have one local independent store The Bike Affair who stock Saucony and Brooks shoes. There are no specialist running stores in town yet but The Bike Affair are in the process of opening a run-bike-swim store in the near future.
Tell us about the best local races in Hyderabad?
Airtel Hyderabad Marathon
The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon is organised by Hyderabad Runners Society in the month of August. It offers one of the toughest city marathon courses in the country, crossing three flyovers and with plenty of elevation gain. The half marathon is the most popular event considering that August is the beginning of racing season in India as well.
The other major local race is the Club Run in February, again organised by the Hyderabad Runners Society. This event usually takes place inside the lush green campus of Hyderabad Central University. Apart from a super fast half marathon course aided by favourable weather, another major aspect of this run is the hosting of a Couch to 5km event , where 300-600 runners run together to finish their first 5km after 10 to 12 weeks of training.
Can you recommend a local dish/venue to eat after a long run or race in Hyderabad?
The two major dishes that come to my mind are Hyderabadi Biryani and Kubani-ka-Meetha. Paradise Restaurant is the most famous but there are better Biryani places in town: Try Cafe555, Cafe Bahar and Shadab Shahgouse.
The other dish that Hyderabad is famous for is its South Indian thali. This is an assortment of rice, various South Indian curries, sweets and papad. The best place to experience this is The Spicy Venue.
Thanks to Lipi for taking us for a run (and some thali) in Hyderabad!
One last thing...
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