Anjali Saraogi + Comrades Marathon: Facing Firsts

Indian ultra runner Anjali Saraogi shares her Comrades first-timer experience, and why this race is so special to her. Anjali came to running in her 40s, and is now one of India’s best ultra racers.

When Anjali entered a half-marathon, with no training, in 2015, she had no idea about the running talents she’d discover. Shortly thereafter, she learned about the Comrades and decided she had to run; when she registered for Comrades, she’d never even run a marathon.

Since her 2017 Comrades experience, Anjali has gone on to become one of India’s top ultra runners. Most recently, in November 2019, Anjali competed for India in the Asia and Oceania 100km Championships in Jordan, where she was the 4th place woman and, with a finishing time of 9 hours 22 minutes, set an Indian national record for women at that distance.

This episode is part of our first season, and the theme of this season is experiences in and around the Comrades Marathon, which is a 90-kilometer, or roughly 56-mile, road race that takes place each year in South Africa. It is the oldest and largest ultra-distance foot race in the world. In addition to Anjali’s story, you’ll also learn about the beloved startline traditions at Comrades in this episode.

The recommended resource for this episode is the Fast Women newsletter, which comprehensively covers highlights of women’s competitive distance running, with a heavy US focus; and in this context, distance means longer track events, all the way through to the marathon, with a dose of some of the top news in ultra racing. This newsletter is thoughtful, smart, fair, and insightful, and is itself packed with resources. Every single week. There’s also a Fast Women Facebook group where you’ll find a great community of runners.

Book mentioned in this episode: Dare to Run by Amit Sheth

Additional audio for this episode comes from SABC Sport's 2017 live race coverage, as well as online video footage of the startline cock’s crow and Shosholoza.