There was an emptiness in the last few days after the 12 hour stadium run, much like the emptiness one feels after all the relatives and friends leave after a marriage. Though I had posted a few lines immediately after coming back to Hubli, decided to write again after the cud-chewing the event went through during my morning run today. When Dharmendra called me about a month back for participating in this event, I gave an unconditional Yes, running and without entry fee, (Neki aur pooch pooch as they say!). He had asked me to come a day earlier to socialize with other participants, and, I was eagerly looking forward to it. Fate willed otherwise, my daughter's convocation was fixed a day earlier and that too in the evening, if this was not the horns of dilemma, I don't know one. There is something between Hyderabad and flight, I had to take a flight to reach the start of Navagraha Ottam, the last time I was in Hyderabad. This time it was tighter still, the convocation started at 4:15 PM and the flight (last one to Bengaluru) was at 8:40 PM. The medal and degree distribution finished at 5:15 PM and i was fretting and fuming during the President's long winded address. The event got over at 5:30 PM, and I hopped into a waiting cab and rushed off to the airport after a giving a hurried hug to daughter. I made it in time for the flight (maybe, I could have spent another half an hour with wife and daughter!). My wife was to follow me to Bangalore by the night train. The flight left before time and deposited me at the airport at 9:30 PM. I got an Airport Express bus which reached me to the Richmond circle at 11:15 PM. Theis service is excellent, the conductor doubles up for guide and valise and it is all for a sum of Rs. 220/- only (compare this to upward of Rs. 2000/- I had to dish out in Hyderabad!). I walked into the hotel at 11:30 PM and was overwhelmed by the opulence and grandiosity, I have been used to Railway Rest houses for stay before events. I was thinking it must be costing the organisers a bomb! I refused my single room and moved into Bib-Bala's room. I twisted and turned in the soft bed and huge pillows for I don't know how long ( the loud music from the dance floor did not help. I was reminded of the scene in the Silent movie 'Pushpak' where the hero Kamal Hassan is not able to sleep in the Hotel room!). Woke up at 3:30 AM and after a few cups of hot tea and a decent spinning session on my charkha, I was ready for the run. Bala also got ready and we were at the lobby at 4:45 AM. There I met the other runners, Sunil Shetty (who has run 100K with wife!), Lihas Trivedi, Aravind Kumar (fresh from Comrades success), Raj (who is attempting the audacious 10,000K run!) and others. This was the first time I was seeing Arun Bhardwaj in person, he looked much smaller than I had an imagined him to be. I was yet to meet the legendaryMilind Soman. After a slight delay we were at the stadium, The run started at 6:05 AM. The atmosphere was electric and the weather perfect. Met Milind, who immediately put me at ease and asked me if the track would be barefoot friendly. He also switched to barefoot. He made easy conversation every time we crossed. I fixed up with him to remain fresh till my wife arrived as I had promised her a photo with Milind to impress her friends (She walked to a hero's welcome from her friends, when she stepped out for the morning walk today!). Her train was late and she could come only at 4 PM! Though the weather was nice and the course barefoot friendly, it was a challenge to run in circles, the mind could never relax nor pick up speed as we had to turn every 100m. The crowd and volunteer support and constant egging on by colleague runners kept me in good spirits. The race director Nagaraj Adiga watched over each one of us as a concerned mother hen, pulling us out for b'fast and mandatory medical check ups. Ramaswamy Narayanan ran with me for quite some time and as usual pepped me up with high praise. The crowd was warming up to my unusual dress and gave me a loud cheer whenever i crossed them. The security guards and Anju Kp who was taking photos at the other end cheered us on the other half. All was well till 2:15 PM when I sensed my calf muscle tightening on my right leg just as I was finishing my 169th lap. I decided to pull out after half a lap for stretches where mats were laid out. I made it to the place and lay down on the mat and my trusted aide Joshua who had been crewing me for the last half an hour or so. I could barely sit and we were not able to find a physio, the Doctor came from the Medical tent and asked me to come to the medical hut. I summoned all my reserves and walked to the tent, once I lay down on the bed, both my legs froze and I experienced my first severe cramps of my running career. Both my calves and thighs were rock solid and I had excruciating pain. Sukesh Amin was brought to the next bed on a stretcher, he was having severe cramps and had passed out at the finish line. His thigh was double the size and looked like would tear out of the skin. Meanwhile,Kavitha Kanaparthi, appeared from nowhere and took charge of me. She kept massaging both my legs and got enough salt and liquids into me in the next 45 minutes to one hour. But, every time I tried to fold my leg, it use to cramp up at the calves. I was getting desperate, my wife was about to come and I didn't want to meet her on the hospital bed. I was also feeling miserable that after so much efforts to take part in the event , I did not want it to end like this. Kavita kept patiently tending to me and the next time I tried getting up, I could! She asked me to walk for a lap and run thereafter if I could. I took a few ginger steps on the track and was welcomed with a loud cheer from the crowd. I was feeling like Anil Kumble coming out to bowl with his jaws in a plaster cast! I ran slowly and felt good, Kavita had done a miracle (my brother, a doctor and a runner, tells me I must be the first recorded case of running after severe cramps in both legs). I had lost count of the laps and time, I was now really running for the joy of it. The crowd was delirious and I had the booster shot of seeing my wife after every 400m. Children were running alongside, waving pom-poms, doing cartwheels. Rain gods got kind and blessed us with a few showers. Jagdish Damania also seemed to have a bad case of cramps in one of his legs and was bravely walking, his wife and friend were giving him company and they were cheering me every time I crossed. I don't remember the names of all the people who cheered me, but, I sincerely believe that the second innings was possible solely due to their encouragement. I finished strongly at 6:05 PM( Technically, it was not 12 hours for me, I must have missed close to one and a half hour to cramps!) and arrived to a thunderous applause from the crowds! I have been on seventh heaven since then for the last few days and it will require all my reserves to regain my humility. We were planning to return to my brother-in-laws place after the run, but, both Nagaraj Adiga and Dharmenra insisted and wife and self went back to the hotel for dinner and spent the night ( Icing on the cake for self and wife!) there. The organisers, crowds and the volunteers made it an unforgettable experience for me. KudosBengaluru Marathon!