Sufiya Sufi Runs Across the World – iRunFar

If you happen to search for the identify Sufiya Sufi, you’ll discover she calls herself a “humanity first” ultrarunner. You’ll additionally uncover that she’s set 5 operating Guinness World Data in 5 years’ time — with no prior expertise as a runner. After 10 years of working in aviation, she made the daring transfer to chase her operating desires and see the world on the identical time.

Based mostly out of Manali, India, a Himalayan resort city in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state, the 38-year-old athlete makes a speciality of chasing a few of the longest world data in operating, starting from 200 kilometers throughout Qatar to her latest undertaking, a 40,075-kilometer or longer route circumnavigating the world. With a small assist crew, that typically consists solely of her fiancé, she has tackled a few of the longest routes in India and isn’t even near operating out of concepts on what to do subsequent.

Sufiya Sufi - training in Ladakh, India

Sufiya Sufi coaching in Ladakh, India, at 17,000 toes. All photographs courtesy of Sufiya Sufi.

Childhood Years

Sufi grew up in Ajmer within the northern Indian state of Rajasthan as a center little one with two brothers. The household misplaced their father when Sufi was a young person, and the three youngsters had been raised by their mom.

Whereas Sufi didn’t take part in sports activities throughout her childhood, she turned a classical dancer and stage performer throughout her school years, incomes a Bachelor of Arts at Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati College, Ajmer in Rajasthan. After school, she moved to Delhi, India’s capital territory and an enormous metropolitan space within the northern portion of the nation, to finish a diploma course in aviation earlier than coming into the aviation trade for 10 years.

A Nerve-racking Aviation Profession

Sufi began operating for health in 2017 whereas working on the airport, the place she did floor operations, check-ins, and boarding. In describing that interval of her life, Sufi says, “That was a time once I was feeling pissed off with my job and bored. As a result of I labored the evening shift for nearly 10 years, I had well being points.” She knew she needed to make a change. “I assumed, I ought to do one thing for my well being. I began operating within the park to care for myself.”

She first went out on a three-kilometer path in a close-by park. It was the primary time in her complete life that she’d gone on a run. Not lengthy after, she ran the 2017 Delhi Half Marathon. It wasn’t lengthy till she elevated her distance once more. “After that race, I assumed, I ought to begin doing marathons, as a result of I felt good after doing the half marathon.”

She was intrigued to see what she may do together with her operating. “Once I discuss pushing limits, it was a great way to test my limits, and I pushed myself.” She ran the Noida Grand Marathon in Delhi and, afterward, a 50-kilometer occasion in 2018.

In the identical time frame, her associate Vikas Saroha began biking for health as a technique to cope after he misplaced his father. They’d met in 2016 once they had been each staff on the airport. Lower than two years after that first run, at age 33, Sufi left her job in aviation. On the time, she’d been promoted to a place because the Obligation Officer in Aviation on the airport’s departure zone, however the job didn’t accommodate her rising curiosity in long-distance operating.

“I left the job as a result of I used to be pondering of longer expeditions. I wanted lengthy leaves, and my boss was not prepared to provide me lengthy leaves, so I needed to depart the job,” she explains.

Sufiya Sufi - aviation career

Earlier than there was operating, there was work within the aviation trade. Sufiya Sufi within the heart.

Her First Expedition

In 2018, Sufi began planning her first expedition: a 702-kilometer street run on a route known as the Golden Triangle that connects the Indian cities of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.

There have been many causes Sufi determined to begin happening expeditions, together with desirous to do extra together with her life than work on the airport. “There was frustration in me once I was working in an workplace. I assumed operating can be the easiest way to test my limits or unfold a trigger or message.”

She didn’t have a template or position mannequin to base her journeys on. “There have been many issues moving into my thoughts, saying I ought to do an expedition, which is new in India. I began and needed to experiment with expeditions — it appeared adventurous and like mountaineering. I stated, ‘I ought to do that.’”

She set an Indian nationwide report on the route, turning into the quickest finisher on foot in 16 days, one hour, 17 minutes.

Vikas Saroha: Fiancé and Group Chief

Saroha, Sufi’s associate, has been her greatest supporter from the beginning. He impressed her to run the Golden Triangle after he’d cycled the route earlier. Saroha additionally takes care of the entire logistical particulars of the expeditions. “He does the entire route creation and planning for my expeditions. He does the identical routes on a motorcycle,” Sufi explains of the partnership.

With comparable motivations as Sufi, Saroha additionally stop his aviation job in 2019. Now, he’s Sufi’s crew chief for her expeditions and does the entire organizing, and he offers her with a vitamin and hydration plan. Saroha additionally studied to turn into a coach and took over Sufi’s coaching as effectively.

Sufi says, “Vikas comes up with concepts. I simply run. I have a look at the plan, and he tells me the following problem. He’s a giant assist for me.”

Her coaching plan incorporates power coaching, yoga, and pranayama breath work, which helps together with her psychological focus. Sometimes, she does one future on Saturday or Sunday. Her weight coaching focuses on knee and glute reinforcement, and he or she additionally does body weight exercises and takes a relaxation day each Monday.

The pair dwell with a avenue canine named Tiger.

5 Again-to-Again Guinness World Data

The 12 months following the Golden Triangle run, Sufi set a report for the quickest time accomplished by a feminine runner touring from the Kashmir area to town of Kanyakumari. The route goes from the northern tip to the southern finish of India.

This 2019 record-setting run was additionally Sufi’s first Guinness World Document achievement. She coated practically 4,000 kilometers in 87 days, two hours, and 17 minutes.

Sufi was solely getting began. Subsequent, she set a second Guinness World Document on the Indian Golden Quadrilateral street community. The 6,002-kilometer community of nationwide highways hyperlinks the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. Then 35 years outdated, she accomplished the feat in April 2021 in 110 days, 23 hours, and 24 minutes.

For her subsequent run in 2021, she headed to the mountains. “I used to be doing solely street operating at the moment. Then I assumed I ought to do one thing more difficult,” she says.

Her third Guinness World Document was what she named the Himalayan Extremely Run Expedition. She coated 485 kilometers between the high-altitude cities of Manali and Leh, India, turning into the primary feminine athlete to finish the route. The mountainous terrain supplied a larger problem for her — which was the objective — by reaching an altitude of 17,480 toes and gaining a cumulative 26,902 toes of elevation. She completed on October 1, 2021, in 156 hours.

In January 2023, Sufi ran throughout the nation of Qatar from south to north in a distance of 200 kilometers. She completed the hassle in 30 hours and 31 minutes and set a fourth Guinness World Document.

Later that 12 months, Sufi set her fifth Guinness World Document by resetting the report for operating from Manali to Leh in India. This time, she accomplished the route in 98 hours. She determined to return as a result of she “needed to go beneath 100 hours.” She says, “Once I did that report in 2021, I didn’t assume my preparation was good, and I assumed I may do higher. That was my finest expertise.”

Sufiya Sufi - running across Qatar

Sufiya Sufi finishes operating 200 kilometers throughout Qatar.


Earlier than 2017, Sufi didn’t have a sports activities background and hardly took on challenges, mentally or bodily. When she began setting operating targets, she says, “Nobody was believing in me.” However she believed in herself. “I believe the constructive mindset retains you going and pushes you to take extra challenges.”

Sufi believes that mindset is a really robust instrument. “Being a constructive thinker is vital. Your physique and thoughts get into it, and also you need to problem your self extra, and that’s what I’m doing.”

She’s most intrigued by creating her personal expeditions and routes. “I’m believing my very own race — I don’t imagine in competitors. That is the easiest way for me to test my limits.” The expedition runs additionally present a great way to see new locations. “I really like touring, and it’s the easiest way to journey the world. I coated all of India on foot. It’s my ardour. When you do one expedition and one other, you get power and confidence to do different challenges.”

The assertion “know no limits” couldn’t be more true for Sufi.

For 2024, she’s planning an expedition throughout the United Arab Emirates. She goals to finish the 700-kilometer distance in seven days, checking off 100 kilometers each day. Her plan is to finish the run in November or December.

She’s additionally going to do an Worldwide Affiliation of Ultrarunners (IAU) 24-hour stadium run competitors in Bengaluru, India, to attempt to qualify for the 2025 IAU 24-Hour World Championships in France.

In December, she’ll return to run Qatar once more. Her earlier report was damaged by six minutes, and he or she’d prefer to get the title again.

Within the Pipeline: Operating Across the World

Beginning in 2025, Sufi is planning to run world wide with the objective of protecting 40,075 kilometers, which is the circumference of the earth. She’ll begin and end in India, and the route sews collectively about 20 international locations together with Australia, a number of throughout Europe, the US, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Canada. She goals to set one other Guinness World Document for this effort.

“India is the largest distance I’ve coated, and I’ve coated an entire nation. I did the entire thing on foot. I assumed, I ought to go overseas and go to different international locations. The concept is to discover.”

“Nobody has accomplished that route, however I need to do that. Vikas will probably be with me,” she says. “Once I’m operating expeditions, he helps me in a automobile. More often than not, he does it alone. He’s not doing the rest, as a result of he’s supporting and managing me, so he’s busy, so he’s not doing any endurance targets for his biking,” she explains.

They are going to want particular visas to enter and keep in every nation for the time it takes to run throughout it, along with finding out the entire different logistics. The planning will occupy all of 2024.

Sufiya Sufi - training in Ladakh, India

Sufiya Sufi throughout a coaching run in Ladakh, India.

The Future

“Ultrarunning is a brand new sport in India and doesn’t have recognition,” stated Sufi. In consequence, she struggles to seek out sponsorship assist. Generally she does crowdfunding to assist her expeditions. She is at the moment working to discover a vitamin sponsor to assist her together with her runs.

She feels that even after she does her around-the-world run, she’ll be nowhere close to near tapping out of her thought pool, both.

“Initially, I didn’t assume I’d run that far. After finishing six expeditions, I nonetheless assume it’s just the start, and I need to proceed,” she says.

For now, there’s a wedding ceremony on the horizon for her and Saroha after she runs throughout Qatar a second time. However different life targets? Proper now, she’s principally fascinated with that large run world wide.

Name for Feedback

  • Have you ever adopted Sufiya Sufi’s record-setting operating?
  • Do you utilize operating as a technique to see the world?
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