Bengaluru: India’s top ultra runners, led by Bengaluru’s Ullas Narayana and Shyamala Sathyanarayana, will be aiming for glory in the IAU 24-hour World Championship in Albi, France over this weekend.
 
Ullas, a veteran runner from the city who works in Vancouver(Canada) now, holds the distinction of running a mind-boggling 250.371 km, the maximum by any Indian in an official 24-hour run. He ran this distance in the 24-hour Stadium Run in Bengaluru to qualify for the World Championship and will fancy his chances in this gruelling event.
 
The nine runners, including five men and four women, have been selected by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), and are being sponsored by IDBI Federal Life Insurance, which holds various marathons in India, and NEB Sports.
 
A five-member support crew, including three ultra marathon runners and a leading sports medicine specialist, are part of the travelling contingent.
 
 “At IDBI Federal Life Insurance, we are strongly committed to the cause of health and fitness. Supporting the sport of ultra-running is another step in this direction,” the company’s chief marketing officer Karthik Raman said.

“We are delighted to see India field such a strong team this year. We are confident of some great results as the team has been preparing very hard at a training camp, with valuable inputs from coaches, nutritionists and physiotherapists,” he added.
 
The world’s top marathoners and ultra runners from 45 countries, including women’s world record holder Camille Herron (USA), are competing in this prestigious event this year. Those who run the maximum distance over the 24 hours in their respective categories will be crowned world champions.
 
Bengaluru’s Shyamala (167.6 km) also attained the qualifying mark in the 24-hour Stadium Run. She has run numerous ultras, marathons and half-marathons across the world and will be aiming to win laurels for the country.

Sunil Sharma (215.6 km), Binay Sah (222.240 km), Pranaya Mohanty (211.6 km) and Kanan Jain (207.2 km) among men and Apoorva Chaudhary (176.8 kms), Hemalata Saini (172.3 km) and Priyanka Bhatt (170 km) among women, are the other contenders for India. 
“India is an emerging power in the world of ultra running,” NEB Sports’ Nagaraj Adiga said.

“Our team members will surely surpass their previous bests and this will be a huge boost for the sport in India. I hope to see new Indian records at these Championships, and while we may still be some distance from the top 2-3 teams, we would like to see the gap between us and the best narrow significantly,” he added.

India started participating in IAU events only in 2017, and has already made a mark by winning both an individual and team bronze at the 24-hour Asia Oceania Championships held in Taipei in December 2018.