KOCHI: Once Czechoslovakian long-distance runner Emil Zatopek said- “if one wants to experience a different life, run a marathon”. It seems that Indian couple Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty along with Fergal John, a citizen of Ireland (who runs all the way from Dublin to Delhi for a cause) and ace marathoners Steve and Paula Boone who attended the Spice Coast Marathon being conducted at the city on Sunday have all taken a cue from Emil. In spite of the cultural and regional differences they carry, what unites them is common- Running. They say that the moment they started the run, they were carried away in the moment and don’t want to stops till they reach the finishing line.
John’s business card identifies himself as a man on a mission. It declares that he has set a target to attend 13 half marathons in 13 weeks and across 13 countries. “I started this as a tribute to my father who died on 2010. It was on 30th August that I started from Dublin. So far, I have attended half marathons being conducetd in various countries like France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Pakistan and others. The marathon at Kochi is my 11th one. After attending similar runs at Pune and Delhi I will fly back to my hometown,” said John. He also added that once he completes his mission, he will auction the toyota he is travelling in to different countries. “ The cash that I raised from this will be shared with two NGOs namely On the Road Again and Child Nutrition Foundation,” added John.
Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty
When asked on how they feel about being the first Indian couple to finish a 100 km race, Sunil and Sangeeta are all smiles. “ I started running in 2003. Till then I had never participated in a sports competition and have not taken running a serious affair. The first time I hit the tracks, it was to burn my weight. My wife soon joined me. As time progressed, we considered taking running seriously and ran our first ultra marathon in 2012,” said Sunil Shetty. The couple soon progressed into the next level as they participated in the 75 to 100 km marathon in 2013 and 24 hours of running on 2014. The couple said that they are eying the upcoming 220 km race which is set to be held in 2016. For a couple who takes running as a passion, their target seems to be minimal.
Steve and Paula Boone
The couple, in spite of their age, have been actively working to popularize marathon across the frontiers. According to them, they are trying to promote running especially in kids to ensure they are healthier. Healthier kids would mean they would be useful for parents as well as their nation.
“Running is the answer for making life healthier. It’s a social thing. Back in Houston we had formed 50 States Marathon Club and it’s getting an overwhelming response. We have also associated with an organization, hailing from Kochi, Soles of Cochin to popularize running in schools,” said Steve Boone.
The couple said that they were eying Sri Lanka as their next stop and added that each educational institution should come up with a track to run, so that a generation is kept fit as a fiddle.