Heart attack does not spell the end of life; in fact, it’s the start of healthy beginnings. Fifty-year-old Dhananjay Yellurkar (in pic) epitomises this spirit to the hilt.
On January 19, Yellurkar, an avid marathon runner and who used to be a heart patient, will be one of the 10 pace-setters for the full (42km) marathon in Mumbai. Pace-setters are seasoned runners who have participated in various road races and marathons.
“They carry a flag specifying the hours in which they expect to finish the marathon. They also ensure that groups of runners, contingents running into hundreds, that follow them finish the race within the pre-determined time,” Yellurkar told dna.
In the group of 10 pace-setters for the full marathon, Yellurkar is the only person who had heart problems. The pacers are selected after intense scrutiny to ensure they can lead contingents of hundreds of runners towards their goal of finishing the marathon in the decided time, between four and six hours.
“I train for up to four hours a week. Once a week, I wake up at 3am and run up to 32km to and fro NCPA and Worli end of the sea link and also from NCPA to Babulnath and back,” he said.
Three years ago, he underwent a major bypass surgery at Asian Heart Institute in Bandra (East) to remove up to five blockages in his heart.
After the surgery, Yellurkar, who had never taken running seriously before, started training every day and has since run in international marathons in New York, Berlin and Paris, apart from participating in Mumbai Marathon for the past three years.
On January 19, Yellurkar will run his sixth full marathon. “In 2010, I was bed-ridden with cardiac problems. After the surgery, I was desperate to prove to myself that I was as fit as other middle-aged men. Six months later, I picked up the pieces and started running half and full marathons. It now feels amazing to be able to lead an entire group of people to the finishing line,” he told dna.
A runner can contact a pacer s/he wishes to join at the e-mail ID given against his/her name. S/he can also join the pacer and his/her ‘bus’ of runners on the race day
On race day, a runner will be able to identify a pace-setter with the help of a flag s/he will be carrying
Search for pacers and write to them to be a part of the ‘bus’ that follows them to the finish line in stipulated hours at http://procamrunning.in/scmm/event/pace-setters-page.