A special guest speaker at the Curiosity Gym Open House was Huzefa Mehta. A brief introduction for those of you who did not attend the talk: Huzefa Mehta is one of the few Indians who have done five ultra-marathons which are severe endurance events, each between between 100-160 miles (Sahara, Arabian desert, Gobi desert, Atacama in South America- twice). Some of these are multi-stages and some are single stage runs – and all of the them self supported – besides water. Huzefa lives in Silicon Valley, works currently at Google, is an avid maker, astronomer, biker, swimmer and a mathematician among several other things he does. His passion is traveling and the endurance events also helps him see places. Huzefa has a PhD from Penn State and an MBA from Berkeley and also a graduate of IIT Mumbai. Links to his diaries of the ultra-marathons: Marathon Des Sables: https://sites.google.com/site/huzefamehta/mds Jordan Cup: https://sites.google.com/site/huzefamehta/jordan-cup Gobi Ultra: http://toaww.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html Atacama Ultra 2013: http://atacamaultra2013.blogspot.com/ Atacama Ultra 2014: http://atacamaultra2014.blogspot.com/
Huzefa walked the audience through some of the pictures and videos of his ultras and explained how anything is possible for each of us, if we set a goal and believe in ourselves that we can do it. He found this as an overarching theme similar to an ultra marathoner and a maker. His whole family (wife, his two sons aged 16 and 10 and he himself are all avid makers, thinkers) is an epitome of being curious about everything). Huzza talked about how setting a goal and then working up 10% more each week in volume of miles run is the way to practice for a marathon/ultra. He suggested that for even many in the room who may not even be regular walkers if we started with walking 1.5 miles a day and 7-10 miles a week and kept increasing that by 10% week on week, we would be ready for a half marathon by Jan 2016 in Mumbai! Some of the ultras were Single stage ultras where he ran about 140 miles at a stretch with a few hours of rest ( Jordan Cup), while others were multi stage (a marathon every day on 6 successive days – Marathon Des Sables. Some had significant elevation gain, included large stretches of isolation where one could not see a runner or any habitation for that matter in front or behind for hours. Huzefa was questioned on why he likes to endure pain – he said he likes to visit places and stretch himself to a somewhat incredulous audience still absorbing some of pictures of his toe nails needing to be cut and running on Sahara sand dunes in 50+ degree C . He ended by saying that while running one clears and hardens ones mind to being able to bear with long time lapses of hardship speckled with a few successes, similar to the road of a hardened maker.