On May 1, 2016, Michelle Kakade became the fastest person in the world to travel the Indian Golden Quadrilateral on foot!
A mother of two and a Pune-based runner, Michelle has been breaking records for the past couple of years. She already has three Limca Records to her name, including Longest Treadmill Run by an Indian, Highest Number of Desert Races by an Indian and First Indian in the 4 Desert Club.
We caught up with this incredible runner to find out what it feels like to be the only woman in the world to accomplish this awe-inspiring feat!
Tell us about your Guiness World Record!
I have been awarded the Guiness World Record for the Fastest Time to Travel the Indian Golden Quadrilateral on Foot (Female). I began on October 21, 2015, at the Gateway of India, Mumbai. From there, I moved North towards Delhi, then to Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and back to Mumbai. I would run in the mornings from 3:30 AM to around 8:30 AM before it got too hot, and I would complete about 35 km every day. I was given 230 days to complete it but I finished it in 193 days, 1 hour and 9 minutes!
How did you go about training for the run?
My training began 7 months prior to the run. I would run about 30 km a day and work on core strengthening, balance and breathing. I’ve never had a personal trainer before, but for this event I got on board Raj Vadgama, a trainer from Mumbai who is an accomplished ultra runner himelf.
Tell us about how running happened for you…
I started running pretty late in life, when I was 35. It was only after 40, that I actually started participating in long distance runs and branched off into ultra marathons. I initially started with 5 and 10 km runs, gradually progressing to longer distances and eventually ultra marathons.
As a woman living in India, did you face any cultural roadblocks?
Training for each event takes between 6 – 8 hours of my day and for this particular run I was away from home for about 6 months. My husband has been highly supportive of my endeavours and has always given me the time and freedom to pursue this. Conventionally, this is seen as something pretty unusual in India, but my family has been extremely encouraging in all my pursuits.
What kind of challenges did you face during and preparing for your run?
This entire run has been completely self-funded. We were unable to get sponsorship so we funded the whole thing ourselves. I would not recommend anyone taking this on if they are not financially prepared for it!
I did not face any serious injuries during my run, but I suffered from severe bronchitis during the first month because of the pollution. Luckily, when I started heading North through rural India, the weather conditions improved and I recovered. My physiotherapist also travelled with me through the whole 6 months, and every time we felt something could go wrong, we always had a counter measure.
What motivates you to take on such physically taxing goals?
I keep trying to reinvent myself and push the boundaries of what I’ve done before.
When you want to achieve something you can’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to run 5000 km! You have to work towards it.
You are an inspiration for every Indian woman who aspires to be fit, break barriers and make a mark in the world today! What is your message for them?
I have two mantras, which I follow. Be realistic and be consistent! Success and failure are a part of life, but unless you work for it you never know what you are capable of. Everyone has some kind of spark that identifies them as a person and sets them apart from the others. Whatever that is, you have to keep working at it. Consistency is the key to achieving your goals.
When it comes to fitness, today many people confuse being thin with being fit. They go on these extreme diets and fitness regimes that ruin their body. If you expect over night results, it’s not going to happen. It’s all about lifestyle choices. You can’t just wake up and say, “I had a late night, I can’t do this today”. Only when you have certain goals and you work towards them, can you really move forward.