Monday, July 14, 2014

Ekal Vidyalaya - Dindigul

TV coverage of Ekal School
CNBC TV 18's coverage of Ekal School. It was broadcasted in their program UNSUNG HEROS. For those who missed it on TV, visit the link below -

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Walking 100,000 miles for EKAL VIDYALAYA FOUNDATION

Walking 100,000 miles for EKAL VIDYALAYA FOUNDATION

Stephen Hnilica is walking from the Tampa Bay Area to Seattle Washington to raise $100,000 and educate 10,000 children through Ekal Vidyalaya foundation. Please encourage him by supporting this noble cause. 

Like his page * Write on his page * Donate on his page

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ekal Marathon is now Back Online

Hello All Ekal Marathoners,

Hope everyone is doing great and running their hearts out.  It's been long time that we have ran together and  seen each other except at some occasional events around.

Meanwhile, beginning of this year I had handed over the the Ekal President ship to Rajan Barma who is doing a good job promoting Ekal. So, thought I drop all you runners a line to invite you back on the trail. Starting this Saturday 12th October 2013, Ravichandran Kasirajan, Praveen Dani and myself will be at the Campbell trail at 7:00am sharp. We would love to see you all there.

If you are running any upcoming marathons please post it at the  facebook page or here itself.
Facebook Page:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

EkalMarathon participating in Morgan Hill Marathon

All of you might already be aware that Silicon Valley Marathon has been cancelled from this year onwards. 

Ekal Marathon Team would be participating in Morgan Hill Marathon. Find more details about the marathon here...Morgan Hill Marathon Page

We will be posting more information in coming days. If you are running and want to register please send and email to

Ekal Marathon Team

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ashok Srinivaspur's Blog on: Redwood park trail run in Oakland

When I received the mail on the Redwood park trail run, I just signed up. Never realized what I was getting into. Naren said that it would be a 30km run and this would be same as the 18 miles regular weekend run. I trusted his words and signed up.

Naren, Jay and me participated from the Ekal team. We had four more runners from the Asha team. It was a nice gang. We started the run at 8:30 AM. We had to first run 20km loop, followed by 10km loop. The total elevation was 2780 ft. It's just a number right? I realized how much was 2780 ft when I started running the steep elevation. It was hard, but not impossible. 10km second loop was the hardest. In most of the places, the steep was very much. It was hard to run on these steeps. We just had to walk.

Every 10km there was aid stations with food to eat. This helped us in getting the energy for the run. It was a well-coordinated run. At the end of the run, the thrill of completing the run was amazing. Jay had got nice Indian food. We treated ourselves to Indian food and soup. Truly we deserved it after the long run.

Running in the woods, stopping at the scenic view was a great experience for me. In fact, the woods and scenic view gave me energy to press ahead with the hard run. Unlike the marathon, I had few people running around me. Somehow I liked this run better than Marathon because it was running in the woods and it was not crowded. I guess it's a different experience. Marathon and trail runs have their own charm.

Next time anybody asks you whether you want to do the trail run, don't think too much. Just sign up. You will have an amazing experience.Woody Allen said, "80% of success is showing up". He is so right.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Novice Runner thanks Ekal

I wanted to thank the Ekal Group and my San Ramon Ekal partners for a small personal achievement.

I could not have done this without their help. I have been very active taking regular walks and exercising 5 days a week minimum at the gym. The regimen was followed as I had been advised bilateral knee replacement surgery few years ago. At first I had wanted to reach the 40 year milestone and then I stretched it to 45 years. I turn 45 this year and my resolution to do something worthwhile with the gift of my natural knees, was realized with the opportunity to join Ekal.

Ekal has rejuvenated me like nothing and it is with great enthusiasm that I took this challenge. With the regular practice sessions with my partners at San Ramon, I challenged myself to register for the 4th July 10 K run in San Ramon.

I have never participated in any kind of race since I left middle school, so this was big for me. A friend, Sangeeta Baronia, who is also in the Ekal half marathon, joined me for this event. I felt that I was the only novice in the group, as we had Team in Training groups and others with coaches, wearing the right outfits, doing the warm ups and so forth. My physical handicap made me feel nervous and I mentally kicked myself for my stupidity of joining this run as well as Ekal. But the spirits were running high, feeding off the enthusiasm off others. The rush of running with the pack, the adrenaline that pumps in your body as people cheer you up, the constant challenges that one creates for onself were new.

As I was completing the first lap I had several members overtake me on their second lap. Those moments were unnerving and soon I was pretty much at the tail end of the pack, as everyone was running while I was walking. But as I passed the numerous volunteers on the way, and they gave me my time, and made me feel like a victor each time, and I felt a change come over me. I pushed myself into a gentle trot, bracing myself for the sharp pains to arrive, but they did not. Before long at the next curve with a different set of volunteers giving whoops of encouragement, and I was jogging. I would slow down to fast walk catch my breath and do the whole trot, jog, run again and lo and behold I was taking shorter walking breaks. I know I looked robotic as my knees do not have the fluidity of motion and the jerky strides on semi-locked knees were not a pretty sight, but I felt like I was flying in a most graceful fashion.

This day on 4th July, American Independence Day I set myself free from the notion that there are things that I can not do. I can run, albeit short distances, but I can run!!

I am thrilled today as I was able to improve my time as well.
I finished the 10 Kilometer (6.2 Miles) run in 1 hour and 27 minutes.
I am able to cover 1 Km in 8.7 minutes (14 min/mile).

This would not have been possible without my Ekal Team Members for it was Ekal that found the hidden strength in me and it was my team members who channeled it into my achievement. And it was also the encouraging cheers of the volunteers who stood at half way mile stones, at the start of the inclined lap, and at the last leg of the home run who made me keep on going and pushing just a bit more each time. I hope and pray that we have such support of motivating members at the Ekal Marathan too. It makes a huge difference and can improve performance for all runners and walkers.

I feel quite confident that I can actually do the 22 km (13 mile) half marathon in as fairly decent time and may even run a bit. I am very excited and would like to share my moment of glory of finishing in the 4 pictures posted at the following link.

Thank you EKAL!!!


5th July 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An appeal from Ekal's brand ambassador Shrimathi Hemamalini

Watch an appeal by legendary Hema Malini for Ekal Vidyalaya movement.

Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement to bring primary education to tribal and remote villages of India. Ekal Vidyalaya is inspired by Swami Vivekananda who said that "If poor children cannot come to education, education must go to them". Ekal is a non-profit charitable organization aiming to start 100,000 schools in remote Indian villages by 2011.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chai with Manjula - An interview about Ekal

Here is an in-depth interview on Ekal Vidyalaya by Milpitas TV.

Very useful in getting to know about Ekal.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ekal Vidyalaya - an Introduction!

Now that Team Ekal is hard at work on the trail and in raising funds, here is a great introduction to Ekal Vidyalaya which will be useful for potential donors.

Team Ekal at Seattle working hard and inspiring others!

Ekal Marathon Team @ Seattle is training hard for the upcoming Rock-n-Roll Seattle Marathon. 20 runners will run under Ekal banner at Rock-n-Roll this year (2009). They started with handful of runners last year and growing fast!

This video features the Ekal Seattle team and how they get inspired and keep motivated to run when every single step is a challenge :)

"The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organisatin that initiates, supports, and runs nonformal one-teacher schools (popularly known as Ekal Vidyalayas) in remote tribal areas all over India"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Core Strength Training

During the course of marathon preparation, core strength training is also important. Core strength enhances posture, prevents injuries and improves performance.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

San Ramon - Weekly run on May 9th

It was a great day for a run yesterday at San Ramon! It was sunny with gentle breeze. The runners had a fabulous time and completed their run with smiles and great attitude!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Big Sur Marathon Dream

My dream of running the Big Sur Marathon began about two and half years ago. I visited the Silicon Valley Marathon Expo before my first marathon for Ekal Marathon Team in 2006. When I stopped at the Big Sur Marathon booth, I was taken by its scenic & beautiful course. Well, in January 2009, after putting off the plans for the past 2 years & after a couple of months of slacking after the SVM2008, I was feeling the usual tingling to run again. In the 1st week of January, I finally registered for Big Sur Marathon.

            We (Jay, Srinivas, Lalitha & me) kicked off the campaign with 8 mile run on Campbell trail and we met Coach Raman while running on the same day. Coach Raman Rajpal is a charismatic and “60 year old teenager” as he likes to call himself. He has a mixed running group with people training for various marathons and ultra marathons in the off-season for Team-Asha. He happily agreed take us under his wings and to train us for Big Sur. The last 4 months of training were strictly by his book and we did all the right things. We met Sudarsan from Coach Raman's group who was also training for Big Sur. We trained hard, with lots of hills and cross training, intervals and tempos.  We did a nice 3 week taper down after hitting almost 48 miles/week. Finally, we were ready to roll the dice. When everything was looking good, I picked up a viral infection just a week before the Marathon. I spent four days off work, resting and recovering. My wife Suchita & I had decided on Wednesday that I would dropout if fever comes back or if my cough gets worse. The disappointment was simply overwhelming. Fortunately fever didn’t come back and my sore throat and cough also got better, though I had some weakness. To gain confidence, I did a bit of running on Thursday and again on Friday and I reassured myself that I could at least finish it. With a PR aim on the back burner, I decided to take it easy and enjoy this marathon as much as possible.

            We reached Monterey at around 2.30PM on Saturday and went directly to the Marathon EXPO to collect the race packet. It is the Expo where you feel the excitement in the air, get to see a lot of veteran or first time Marathoners. The guy who was giving out shuttle bus tickets had ran all 23 of the previous Big Sur Marathons and he casually mentioned the wind. What was that?  Wow! I didn’t train for it. I hoped that it is no big deal. The Big Sur marathon is a one way course and you need to reach the Start point some 26.2 miles awayJ from Carmel City at Big Sur. The shuttle buses take over an hour from Monterey to reach the start point due to treacherous road conditions. No wonder they tell you not to over hydrate before you board the bus as the potty queues are agonizingly long at the start line and there are no better places around to improvise J For 6.45AM start we had to board the bus no later than 4.00AM. I had to drag Suchita & kids out of bed at 3:45AM to drop me off at the shuttle pick-up point about 1 mile away from the Hotel. I half-heartedly offered to walk that 1 mile J but was strongly overruled by Suchita and kids. All of them agreed that they will happily wake up to see me off at 3.45AM.

            I reached  the start point at 5.30AM and made every effort while on the bus not to look outside  the window in order to  get a feel for the course. I tried to catch some sleep, but thanks to a chatter box sitting behind me on the bus that I had to hear through experiences of her past marathons and 10Ks and 5Ks. A dude sitting next was adjusting his cool miniature Flip-video camera. He told me that he planned to record a clips of his experience on and off throughout the race so that he could live through it again. With excitement of a marathon, the emotions are high and everyone has a way of expressing it. Some people constantly talk and some act cool like dozing off or pretend to be calm.

            At the start point, thanks to cell phones (Bless ’em!), I managed to track down Sudarsan and Jay (Jitendra) Mehta in the crowd of some 9,000 runners.  Sudarsan, Jay and I took some cheesy pictures at the start line after long waits at porta-potty, coffee and the sweats queues. We then decided to hang around the 5:00 hour flag group. The flag holder was a veteran runner named Danny. First 5 miles of the Big Sur marathon are most gentle though there is about 250ft climb. Around mile 3-4 Sudarsan and I drifted ahead of Jay and the flag group.

            The Big Sur course is supposed to start with gentle hills for first 5 miles and then gets to the fun part :).  The crown jewel is of course the "hurricane point". The hurricane point starts at Mile 10 with a long 2 mile hill climb of ~560ft with about 5% grade & gusty winds. The name hurricane point is derived from gusty winds at that point. The weather was very windy from the beginning and the head winds were relentless till almost mile 25. With an objective to enjoy the race, we maintained about 10:15 pace from the beginning until about 14 miles. The remarkable things about this  race are the volunteers and lots of live bands. From country music to classical played on a grand piano to Chinese drumming and exotic American-Indian/Haitian/Mexican dancers. There are bands/food/fruits and aid stations  on almost every mile marker after Mile 10. The course is spectacular and I felt blessed and lucky to have had the opportunity to participate and run on such a course. The mid way point or 13.1 miles is exactly at the center of the Bixby Bridge. At the end of the Bixby bridge,  there was the much anticipated and well-known Yamaha Grand Piano being played live by Michael Martinez. The view, the wind & the music was just an amazing experience. We paused for a few minutes and listened to the music. Anyone who has driven  to  Big Sur will surely remember the beautiful Bixby Bridge. A high curved bridge at perfect scenic bend overlooking the deep sea on one side and green valley on the other. The Bixby Bridge is often put up as a symbol of Big Sur races.

            By mile 14, the hills and strong head winds were taking their toll. To cheer us up, there was a band of about 30-40 Chinese drummers performing terrific drumming at mile 14. We paused for photos, resisting the temptation to join the drummers or to dance. We switched to 10-1 routine where you run for 10 minutes and walk for 1 minute. This slowed us to about 11 minutes a mile, but kept us going. The tough part of marathons is always between Mile 14 to Mile 20 when you are a bit tired and you still have 12 miles to run with the finish line a distant reality. We chipped along with 10-1 routine, occasionally stopping to take pictures and battling with the wind. The course is brutal with rolling hills, curvy and banked roads with relentless wind. At Mile 18 we switched to 9-1 routine. The walk breaks of 1 minute kept us going. By mile 21, I was feeling that my knees were squished and pain was building up everywhere. I started hating the banked roads on bends and tried to run on the shoulder or in the middle of the road.

            At mile 23, we were greeted with wonderful strawberries and probably one of the most delicious strawberries I have ever eaten. So far we had clocked 4:24 hours and had another 36 minutes to reach the finish line, if we were to finish under 5 hours. We switched to 8-2 routine to give ourselves a longer relief and avoid walking at the end. On an average, all runners had at least two layers and people had not taken off the garbage bags till almost mile 24 when the sun finally broke the cloud cover. In to mile 25, we were staring at yet another hill climb almost a mile long & about ~200 ft. We still wanted to finish under 5 hours but the target was looking like a remote possibility.

            Suddenly, Sudarsan noticed the 5-hour flag group running past us and we chased & started running with them. That gave us the momentum and with the pain momentarily forgotten, we managed to cross the finish line just in time. This includes a last usual 100 yd dash :) with hands up like a champion once you see your family and their proud faces. Crossing the finish line is always an emotional experience to me and I thank god for giving me the opportunity and my wife Suchita and daughters Asmita & Urja for their enthusiasm and support through out the training and on the race day. Our post race ritual is generally fun, lots of pictures, a good massage and some of my favorites such as Masala Puris washed down with a Vanila shake.

            Every time I think that this is my last one at mile 23 and once I cross the finish line & see many happy and proud faces around, it makes me more determined to do it again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pre-run Yoga routine

Runner's World recommends this pre-run Yoga routine to help loosen up tight muscles and joints making you more fluid and healthy runner. On Saturday runs we have good Yoga stretching in our group. This has to be followed on weekday runs too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Workout for the week of April 27th

Here is the workout for the upcoming week:

Full Marathon Runners:

Sunday, April 19th - 30 minutes walk/Stretch
Monday, April 20th - Run 1.5 miles
Tuesday, April 21st - Cross train 20 minutes
Wednesday, April 22nd - Run 2 miles
Thursday, April 23rd - Cross train 20 minutes
Friday, April 24th - Rest, stretch, Yoga
Saturday, April 25th - Run 3 miles

Half Marathon Runners:

Sunday, April 19th - Cross train 30 minutes
Monday, April 20th - Run 1.5 miles
Tuesday, April 21st - Cross train 20 minutes
Wednesday, April 22nd - Run 1.5 miles
Thursday, April 23rd - Cross train 20 minutes
Friday, April 24th - Rest
Saturday, April 25th - Run 2.5 miles

Half Marathon Walkers:

Sunday, April 19th - Rest
Monday, April 20th - Walk 1.5 miles (25 minutes)
Tuesday, April 21st - Cross train 30 minutes
Wednesday, April 22nd - Walk 1.5 miles (25 minutes)
Thursday, April 23rd - Cross train 30 minutes
Friday, April 24th - Rest
Saturday, April 25th - Run 2.5 miles (35-40 minutes)

Cross Training options:

Elliptical machine
Stationary Bike
Spinning class
Kick Boxing/Aerobics
Light Weights
10-20 minutes of upper body workout with light weights (10-15 lbs)