All’s well that ends well! That’s precisely what I was expecting on a final day of the arduous, yet enjoyable trip. While a finish looked all but assured, a grand finish was what I was expecting. It didn’t look as easy as expected. I got up with a severe pain in the arch of the left feet and could not even manage to stand straight in the first attempt. More than the pain, it was the fear that got me concerned. Some feet massage and I felt better to stand up and get ready for the run.
We soon set out for the one final run of 24K towards Thirunallar, the last of the nine destinations. Started out slowly but felt better as I found some rhythm in running with Ram. Passing through one of the villages, we were greeted by two boys on occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi. One of them was ironically named Stalin! It was heart rendering to see them decorate a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and distribute chocolates to all passer-bys.
Ram and I were soon joined by Bala and Selva. Selva (sir) was truly a master in Spiritual Discourses and he shared some interesting stories. My first meeting with Selva was in Hyderabad Marathon in 2012, where he was struggling to finish a marathon. In this trip however, he was one of the fittest and running at amazing speeds on all days. He spared some time for us for his talk and yet proceeded to finish stronger than the rest.
We soon crossed the TN-Pondicherry border and entered the Pondicherry state. Proudly stated that this is my daily affair.
Our breakfast was arranged at a Petrol station in Pondicherry state. Some of the runners chose the skip the breakfast, whereas we preferred to eat and then go. Bala was getting treated for his blisters. It was a miracle indeed to see him run with those severe blisters. His resilience to accomplish the task is unparalleled as I have seen it in his attempts to run 12 marathons in 12 days and 21 half-marathons in 21 days!
We entered the small town of Nedungadu and soon started discussing the importance and necessity of having a state like Pondicherry. Our only concern really was about the distance to be covered and no distance markers seems to be helping us out. Take the one pictured below! We could not make it whether it was 12 or 13K to Karaikal.
We filled our time discussing the political situation in Pondicherry state and the pressure the state exerts on the central exchequer. A poster of a politician proudly claiming his monumental achievement of getting ‘record amount for crop loss relief’ helped in substantiating some of my arguments. Soon, we were there at the final destination and eagerly posed at the final board before the turn towards the temple.
Vishy welcomed us with a nice chocolate. I proceed to get my head tonsured before taking a dip in the temple tank. A lovely picture with two shining heads with the temple tank on the background sums up the ‘Grand Finale.’ A visit to the temple and we were soon off to our hometowns with memories of one life time!
It is practically impossible to justify the trip in few words and this blog definitely does not do much justice on a stand alone basis. It has to be read in conjunction with the Race Booklet prepared by Bala, Selva and Shanti, Ram’s Blog filled with titbits and significances from the trip and other blogs by our fellow runners like Vishy and Durai. There are many significances of the trip that I am yet to discover. One friend of mine pointed out to the long existing diversity of religions in the region and another one informed me that most of these places have a mention in the Tamil Classic Ponniyin Selvan. I can only wish it was not an end but a start!