A World-Record Holder and Her Quintessentials to Success
Born and brought up in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Sufiya Sufi completed her school and college education in Ajmer itself. After completing her college education, she arrived in Delhi for an aviation course and served almost ten years in the aviation sector with different airlines. Unfortunately, she lost her father when she was just 16. After he passed away, Sufiya’s mother put in all the effort to raise her and her three siblings.
Sufiya is a professional ultradistance runner now. It all began in 2017 when she was in the aviation industry and had to work odd shifts. There were no particular work timings, and she started losing her health. Thinking of making amends to improve her health and fitness, running came into her mind. “I started running in my community park. My first run was 3 km, and I felt very good after that run, so I started running regularly. After six months, I started participating in half marathons, marathons and ultra-marathons. Running became my passion. After a year, I did my first ultradistance run, which was 700 km. It was from Delhi to Agra to Jaipur and back to Delhi.” After that run, Sufiya’s entire focus was on running and doing ultra-distance running expeditions. She even left her job for running and became an ultra-professional runner.
When she completed her first ‘ultra-running expedition’ in 2018, she started planning her following projects. In 2019, she completed the ‘Trance Run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ and established a new world record for the fastest female to complete that challenge. “That run made me a recognised face in running and fitness communities. Because there were not many people who were doing such ultra-distance running, so I got a very positive response from the people I was meeting during my run.”
Sufiya exclaims that she is very fortunate to have a partner who is also in the same profession. He is very supportive and manages all of her projects, making it easy for her to balance her professional and personal life. Facing any obstacles and challenges together is key to her success.
Extreme endurance level is an essential skill for her sport, and so, long-term success depends on commitment, she expresses. “I always push myself to the extreme to get the best result. I believe in consistency and always try to be the better myself.” As a person who loves the sport, she always believes in pushing her limits to the edge. After each expedition, she thinks about the next one and never looks for the easy path.
The onset of COVID-19 affected one of Sufiya’s expeditions. In early 2020, she was on her 2nd world record run. The challenge was running 6000 km along the Indian Golden quadrilateral road in 150 days. She started the run from Delhi in February and was in Andhra Pradesh, completing almost 2200 km, when the lockdown was announced in March. “I was on my target and going very well but had to call off due to Corona restrictions. Travel was banned, so I could not be back home. But somehow, I managed to reach Maharashtra. There I got shelter in one of my friend’s villages. I spent almost three months in that village. I was very disappointed and broke because I had spent many resources and money on that run, and it reaped no benefit.” Despite all this, she did not give up. In those three months, she trained herself to become even stronger to restart the expedition. In December 2020, she restarted her running expedition from Delhi, completing it and breaking the previous world record by 82 days!
Mental strength is just as important as physical strength for Sufiya and her sport. She believes that her mental strength outweighs her physical strength. “I always have a positive attitude towards life’s difficulties. So my most powerful asset is my positive mindset, which never allows me to give up in any situation, whether in life or in sports.” Despite many weaknesses, she strives constantly to improve herself.
Awards and accolades have come her way, and some notable ones are 4x Guinness World Record Holder for Fastest completion of Trans India Run (K2K), Golden Quadrilateral Road Run, and Himalayan Ultra (Manali – Leh) & Run Across QATAR running challenges. She also received the ‘Appreciation Award By Northern Command of the Indian Army’ for Siachen to Kargil Run in July 2022. To the viewers, she shares that believing in ourselves and working faithfully with a positive attitude and consistency whilst staying committed to our goals can help us achieve what we want. Eating right, staying hydrated and regularly exercising are indispensable.