Damian Carr | India Open 24 Hour Run
I got the invitation from NEB Sports India via links with the legend Dan Lawson. I didn't hesitate and accepted with open arms. My plan was to not race a 24 hour again until I represent Team GB in the European Championships next year however, this was an opportunity not to be missed. I thought this would be a great learning experience to have. Running in the heat provides a big challenge. The main challenge was in fact getting the correct documentation to travel. Due to COVID the UK stopped tourist visas so I would need to apply for a business / sports visa. The organisers (NEB Sports) were fantastic and even allowed me to bring a crew member along for the adventure.
There was hassle for both of us to get our visa as we had to drive to Birmingham twice in 2 days!
Eventually, after all the documentation and packing we arrived in India. We had concerns with the air quality, the heat and general environment. I was only able to complete one short run before the race due to the time constraints!
I have to be careful with nutrition as I didn't want to eat anything that would upset my stomach before the big day, so I stuck to basic carbohydrates - bread and plain pasta. I even brought army ration meals with me to make sure my daily calories were hit. I would save the spicy curries and local cuisine for after the race, haha!
The night before race day we sat down and discussed our battle plan. We highlighted from my last race some of the key things I would need, such as salt tablets, when to eat solids, what to drink and when. We kept the plan loose as we knew things could change.
I couldn't sleep great because I was really excited. We set out all the nutrition that we bought along. Once again, a big shout out to XMiles, Squirrel's Nut Butter, Mountain Fuel and COROS for their support.
The heat was a big surprise as it had been cloudy all week, but on race day it was sunny. I managed to push through the heat as I knew I'd be fine during the evening when it was cooler.
Everything we had planned the evening before kind of went out the window and I had to have things 2 or 3 hours earlier than anticipated. The race itself was very tactical. The leaders were trying to force the pace and attempt to drag me into a battle early on. Later, I found out that the plan was for them to use the heat against me as I wasn't used to it. However, me and Dale (crew member) spoke about this and made sure we had a strategy to keep the body cool and show the other competitors no sign of weakness. We used bags of ice in my cap, towel soaked in ice water thrown over my shoulders and the old fashioned bucket over the head job. Not going to lie... the heat was so tough and after 5 hours I did question whether or not I would survive it. Somehow, I did and manage to be strong and hold on for the win!
After the race, NEB Sports arranged an ice bath which really helped with my recovery. I also used my Nurokor device. The organisers then treated us to a flight to Goa for some proper rest & recovery. I was so grateful. The hospitality was amazing and never forget the experience.
Fingers crossed I will get a GB call up to compete in the European championships next year which is held in Italy. That would be a dream come true. I want to try and give the UK 24 hour record a good go at. Got to dream big right?