The running community in Bangalore are a zealous lot. "We don't remember each others names but we definitely recognise one another at marathons and running events be it Chennai, Hyderabad or Mumbai. We in fact, run, talk and grab some food together," said Rajesh Swaminathan. The 42-year-old has run over 21 full marathons (42.2 kilometres) over the last 10 years, and has lost count of all the half marathons he's run. "I took it up as a casual sport in California, then it became second nature to me. Running is a no frill sport and very simple," he said while adding that it's an active weekend recreational activity for those who are over 30.
Their motivation varies from fitness to health issues to fun but their passion for long distance is unanimous. Neera Katwal, a 37-year-old who switched over from a cushy job as a competency specialist to become a fitness trainer after being bitten by the running bug says, "I started with 10K, then stuck to half marathons for over two years. When I saw that my timing was better, I moved to full." The midnight marathon winner is not the one to take her sport lightly. "I always believed in building a base. If I'm running a big race, I'll do it strong."
Dr Dhananjeyan M P T, a physiotherapist opines that running barefoot on sand or grass is ideal for the arches of the feet since load distribution would be even. Besides training regularly, he advises runners to do a quick stretch before and a full stretch after the marathon. Ryan Fernando, Co founder of Qua nutrition adds that while carbs are important, other kinds of nutrition is not seen as an essential element until it takes a toll on their health after years of running.
"I know what it's like to hear the sound of your heartbeat. The whole world shuts down," said the ex-runner who was advised not to run if he wished to maintain functional knee joints.
August to February is the popular season for running events in the country due to the cooler weather conditions. Despite not having a big format event like Mumbai or Delhi, Bangalore is still seen as a top venue because of its favourable weather conditions. "I can run any time I want, in the morning, evening or night," said Govindarajan Thirumalai. The 42-year-old is is preparing for his first full marathon, the much awaited Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in January.
"Why do I run? I run because I'm not competing with anyone else, I'm challenging my own body," he said. His success at the Pondicherry half marathon motivated his two children to pick up the sport as well.
81 year old Janardhan B R opines that a tiny space is not sufficient for all he has to say about his life as a runner. "The second oldest person at a marathon is at least 30-40 years younger than me," he says gaily. After being diagnosed with epilepsy, the retired Railway Officer was prescribed medication and bed rest. "I'd prefer death over being inactive and bedridden. I went against my prescription and took up cycling in 1997, seven years after my retirement."
He's been running for nine years now and apart from fitness, the fact that dozens of youngsters consider him an inspiration keeps him on his feet.
Life is Calling's Race Director Sunil P V says that the camaraderie between the runners help motivate them to complete a race. "It is at 25-35 kilometres when it really starts to take a toll on them but once they cross that mark, the other runners will carry them along and that support helps them."
Arvind Bharathi, Manager at Runners for Life recommends that new hopefuls head out to the following areas in Bangalore to bump into any of Bangalore's passionate runners on weekends. Cubbon park is a training ground for Runner's High, Pacemakers, Nike Run Club and fun groups like Bhukmp Pass during their runs. Lalbagh, Sankey Tank, GKVK Campus on Bellary Road, Agara lake, Routes around Bellandur, inside tracks near Ulsoor Lakes, Mini forest in J P Nagar are other alternatives.