Inspirational StoriesTrekking & Hiking

Run through every city you travel!

Medina Ilyassova1 comment1224 views
Goroka Festival, Papua New Guinea,

Wake up, smile and tell yourself: Today is MY DAY!

That’s exactly how I want to start every day after talking with the incredibly positive and inspirational Hitesh Matlani; a 27-year-old adventurer from India. A few years ago he decided to travel around the world in a very unique way – Hitesh runs through every city he visits. He already ran through 100+ cities!

ub-cool: Dear Hitesh, please tell us more about yourself.

H.M.: I am learning every day, every moment just like you all are in your respective fields. One way or another, we all are runners, aren’t we? We Run towards our goals, dreams, and ambitions. My mentor and dear friend Ebrahim Ali Akbari is the primary reason why I decided to travel. I grew up in a suppressed environment, where I doubted every single action and feared more. He believed in me, and he took me to a cliff for a  dive, before that day I had never done it before and I surprised myself by falling in love with the feeling and the fire, the hunger, the feast, the run, and the life began.

Wayag Islands, Indonesia
Wayag Islands, Indonesia

ub-cool: When and why did you decide to start the challenge of running every city? what was your motivation?

H.M.: Yesterday was a challenge, today is an exercise, tomorrow will be just another hobby – you can quote me on that :).

I wouldn’t call it a challenge, it never was. It was a happy dream, which is now a reality.

In 2013, I started couch-surfing, a portal for staying with locals or hosting travelers in your house. I was heavily influenced by the incoming travelers to my house. I was exposed to a whole new world of travelers, and around that time I had even started to run along with a group of runners named Muscat Road Runners in Oman which was a great way to socialize and stay in shape.

In the summer of 2014 I had my 1st Euro trip and within 6 months I ran my 1st and only Marathon in Muscat.  This gave me the courage as I had more information, and I was able to explore the sweetness of this world. It was a random talk with friends over a cup of ´Karak´ chai that I jokingly said I will run around 100 cities one day. All coupled with my love for running and traveling led to the inception of Run Every City.

ub-cool: What was you most interesting city to run through? How did you choose the cities?

H.M.: Ahh, the next city is always the most interesting place to run for me! From the top of my mind, I enjoyed running in Bangalore, India for the climate or Grand Canyon National Park, USA or the beaches in Bali, Indonesia and the run through the café región in Colombia.

The one that is really close to my heart is the run in Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Mexico; a 21 km run through all the marvelous hotels in the zone and got a chance to appreciate the magnificence of human creation. It was a long, hot, and humid  7-hours long run while stopping by the beaches to take a dip in the turquoise Caribbean waters, grab a bite, and take a selfie! I choose cities by word of mouth or whichever is the next closest one to where I am. Thank you, Google Maps.

In the Woods, Colombia
In the Woods, Colombia

ub-cool: What are the challenges you are facing?

H.M.: The basics really – accommodation, safety, transportation. I can give you some tips:

Accommodation – host family, hostels, etc.
Money – cards and documents. Don’t lose your passport.
Safety – listen to locals, your conscience, and your heart, they will tell you how to act.
Clothes – you can wear the same shirt in 17 different clubs, wear it with a smile.
Transportation – hitchhike or other cheap modes of transportation.
Whatsapp connection – connect straight away
Tinder – I have found hosts on tinder :)!

While hitchhiking in Colombia, I came across a very old man just hanging out by a river, I suppose he was in his late 80’s, he didn’t even know his year of birth, yet he lived his whole life. My mind ran straight to the thought of how worried we get over why didn’t he/she reply to my call, deadlines, and our mundane self-centered existence, when in reality, none of it matters. All that matters is the extraordinary journey you can tackle to learn and take in everything around you, and you realize that you don’t matter at all. It is all about “us” and the broader collective.

On top of a volcano, Guatemala
On top of a volcano, Guatemala

ub-cool: What was your most adventurous experience (not only run)?

H.M.: I have a few to tell:

1- Mexico

In October 2016 While hitchhiking from Palenque to Villahermosa in Mexico, I was hit by a Trailer from behind. The trailer had skirted off the track & I was knocked down. My backpack, 70 plus Litres took all the impact and I fell in a ditch. The trailer left, and a couple of guys came to my rescue, My backpack was torn but most of all nothing happened to me. Luck? A second chance at life? Don’t know! But I gathered my stuff in 4 plastics disposal bags and caught a bus to Villahermosa.

I am kind of thankful that this happened as it gave me a chance to get a smaller backpack of 40L. To my surprise,  a general Thank you Email to Quechua, the maker of my backpack resulted in receiving another new backpack for Free. Now I walk for km’s at a stretch as my backpack is lighter. Thank you, trailer! And a month later another trailer helped me with a ride, and I started believing more in the magic of this universe. Yes, I was stirred, not shaken, though!

2- Cumbal Volcano

In January 2017, while hiking the Cumbal volcano next to the Ecuadorian border, in Colombia I lost my friends in the high altitude and I was without a guide. I ended up in the Jungle; I took a wrong route, I fell off a cliff of about 3 meters and survived. I walked and walked, going through rivers and bushes and trees. I reached late in the night at 8 pm. Yes, I broke down halfway, but I kept fighting and moving forward.

Please never go alone. Never loose your friends. At night I was suffering from Hyperthermia. All you need is willpower. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. I made it!

Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, India

3- Florida

In June 2016, In Florida, Jacksonville, I misplaced my passport. I continued my travels up north hitchhiking to Chicago so I could get an Emergency travel document back to India, meaning an end to my travel journey. I had never lost the hope. I believe that thoughts become realities, therefore, you have to be positive and to believe even when it’s most difficult to. You have the magic within you. A month later, I got a call from my friend Darya, telling that she found my passport. Hence here I am in Colombia and making my journey to India soon.

ub-cool: When and where is your next run?
H.M.: I am hitchhiking to Bogota as I write this. On my way, I will be running in the city of Mocoa. I have no preferences when it comes to choosing any city in particular. Every city is different and has something unique to offer.

ub-cool: whats is your personal advice for people willing to overcome all challenges, find themselves and reach their goals?
H.M.: Write your dreams and goals, whatever it was; a BMW, a Louis Vuitton bag, a house in Miami, going on a trip, etc, on a piece of paper and stick it on your wall! From here your journey begins; the day you write it down, you have converted your dream into reality. Until yesterday it was just a thoughts, now it’s right in front of you.  Believe it and believe in yourself. I am a firm believer that you become what you attract.

Don’t be shy, live on abundance, and ask for more. Every time you wake up, or pass by this wall, you will be reminded of your goals. Dream, be crazy, be whatever you want, and listen to your heart! Urge for change, break the comfort zone, and roar! Don’t chase your dreams, instead hunt them down!

Laguna Verde, Colombia
Laguna Verde, Colombia

You can follow Hitesh and his coming runs on Facebook.

Medina Ilyassova
Medina is ub-cool co-founder, mother of 2 and a serial adventurer the rest of the time. She who believes that "Dreams are only dreams until you wake up and make them real"!