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Race Report: Tata Steel Kolkata 25k (TSK25K) 2019

Race report of Tata Steel Kolkata 25k by Kartik Iyer


6 minutes read


Date: 15 December 2019
Start time: 6:26 AM
Goal(s): 1h:50m to 1h:52m

Strava Strava Activity

Hydration and Fueling

  • Sips of Fast&Up BCAA + Reload + Activate in 200ml of water from about 90 minutes before the race
  • Carried a 250ml bottle similar composition with me to avoid the crowded aid stations initially.
  • 3 gels (F&UP/Unived). 1 gel 10 mins before the start and 1 gel every 35 minutes after that during the race. I accidentally dropped a gel on the way else plan was to try and take 4 gels for this race.
  • Water or F&UP Reload once in 20 minutes (on an average) at aid station(s).

Pacing strategy


Given the fact that I have been nursing a strained groin on the right side started carefully. Favorable weather and a sparsely crowded start line meant that I could ease into the run gradually in these initial KMs. Found a steady rhythm and decided I’ll stick to it through the race.

Timing Mat split @5kms – 22m:25s, 4:29 mins/km

6-10 km

– This section was relatively flat and by now the body had warmed up. Crossed a few familiar faces from the Bangalore running circuit in this section without expending much of energy. This was also the section where I dropped a gel.

Timing Mat split @10km – 44m:48s, 4:29 mins/km

11-15 km

This was an interesting and challenging section BOTH. Andy who I had crossed initially in the race crossed me after the halfway mark. We had a flyover in this section and my left quad tightened up a tad bit as it has on inclines for some time now. I put my head down and focused on the runner ahead as I crossed the flyover and regained my mojo.

Timing Mat split @12.5km – 56m:14s, 4:30 mins/km
Timing Mat split @15km – 1h:07m:26s, 4:30 mins/km

16-20 km

The initial part of this section involved a straight tree lined sparsely crowded stretch and that was followed by a stretch that went through a crowded market place with a small bridge. In the initial section Andy’s white cap was an excellent beacon that guided me and in the latter section the energy of the crowd around made me tide over the fatigue that was building up. I reeled in a few more runners in this section and I stuck to the blue lines at the turns to minimize running extra kms.

Timing Mat split @20kms – 1h:30m:30s, 4:32 mins/km

21-25 km

This for me was the best section of this race. In-spite of fatigue that had built up in the previous section I was able to regain my composure and come back strong. One runner did reel me in, but my focus was on the runner ahead of me and when I reeled him in the next runner ahead of me and so on. A familiar script played out here which is worth a mention – Madat Brahma (pacemakers) overtook me with about 2 kms to go and then I overtook another runner from Chennai with about 600m to go. I could also see Andy’s white cap in the last kilometer and that meant he was slowing down. I finally crossed that one runner who overtook me in the initial part of this section. All these cat and mouse games motivated me to run my fastest kilometer to the finish line. The fact that you could see the finish line through the last 1km also helped me to push in that final km.

Timing Mat split @21.1kms – 1h:35m:20s, 4:32 mins/km
Timing Mat split @25kms – 1h:52m:59s, 4:32 mins/km

Key Observations

  • Training – The training in this period leading to the race had been challenging given the groin strain. I was not able to meet the faster latter set targets in the hard runs – short and long tempos – but nonetheless I did not miss any of the runs. Injuries ground you, in a jiffy, that air of invincibility is gone, and you feel a profound sense of gratitude that you can run on two feet if not anything else. I must give credit to Somya and my family for seeing me through this difficult phase of training.
  • I used a cap in almost all my training runs, and I used it at TSK25km it helps me stay focused on the road and runners ahead.
  • Had a good tune-up race coming into TSK25KM at Thump 30km. I understood the value of choosing my battles and playing it conservatively in this race as it was a confidence builder and not a key race.


  • I have been nursing a groin strain on my right leg after ADHM and I have been working with Somya (Stairs Physio) to address it given that background I was happy to have had a pain free race at Kolkata as I am addressing the shortcomings in form which led to the groin strain at the first place.
  • Muthu was kind enough to accommodate me at command hospital and take me for an early dinner to his friend’s place. I had 6 hours of sound sleep which is seldom the case before a key race.
  • It felt good running with and chasing (for the better part of the race) Andy. He kept me on my toes throughout the race and in the process helped me overcome moments of doubt. The fact that we finished together was very satisfying given the lead he had built on me 😉.
  • The splits that I was able to maintain over the course of this race were consistent and I am pleased with this aspect of my race.
  • Finishing strong has always been a problem for me in key races. I am beaten up at the finish line often. This was one race where I finished strong which means I ran my fastest km for the final stretch and yet was not on all fours at the finish line.


  • I felt I was conservative in this race. A couple of factors led to this approach. The groin strain as mentioned above and the fact that I had never raced this distance in the past. In retrospect I should have pushed a tad bit more after 15kms and I might have ended up with a 1:50ish race.
  • Form is work in progress – right foot landing which I have consciously been working on and the amount of movement in the upper body (this one needs more work).

Running Dynamics

Average Cadence 186 spm
Average Stride Length 1.20 m
Average Vertical Oscillation 11.8 cm
Average GCT Balance 48.8% L / 51.2% R
Average Ground Contact Time 165 ms

Heart Rate

Average HR 159 bpm
Max HR 196 bpm
Z5 14% (16.02 mins)
Z4 21% (23.54 mins)
Z3 46% (51.33 mins)
Z2 19% (21.33 mins)

Races Ahead

  • SPCM (32.18km) – 05/01/2020 (this will be a training run for TMM)
  • TMM (Full Marathon) – 19/01/2020
  • NDM (Full Marathon) – 23/02/2020


Kartik Iyer is a running geek, techie and a marathoner. He loves everything running and fitness.

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