There are many who run the Mumbai Marathon for it trends during this time of the year. They sweat and act as if they have just beaten Usain Bolt. But Dr. Purnendu Nath from Santacruz did not perspire a drop though he had to constantly monitor his pace as he had hundred
followers. He was the two-hour bus runner – a guide for the inexperienced runners. How to spot him? Well, apart from carrying the placard like other pacers, he runs bare chested.
“This is natural air-conditioning. Earlier, people used to mock me saying Salman (Khan) aa gaya (Salman has come) but who cares. I know I am fit and it is very important to feel comfortable when you are running,” he said.
“There are a lot of runners who need guidance. I make them realise that they can run if they run with me. It is some sort of a magic number. People don’t know how to pace themselves. At times, they start very fast and get tired towards the end. But I know the timing and pace required. I have trained myself like that,” he added. The secret behind his disciplined athleticism is his GPS watch Garmin Forerunner 305, which tells him the time for each kilometre.
He also runs half-marathons every weekend in the city and covers more than 30km. He ran 38 of them last year. In one of them in Goa, he clocked his best of one hour and 40 minutes.
Much sought after
It was surprising to hear a good number of people asking the same question after completing the Men’s Full Marathon on Sunday, “Where is Rahul?”. Rahul wasn’t someone who was lost, he was right there. He just had too many people to meet. Rahul Verghese was the pacemaker of the 05:30:00 mark, everyone wanted to tell him their finishing time.
But 53-year-old Verghese was more than just a pacemaker. Sunday’s marathon was his 49th since the Delhi resident took to long distance running. His first was the Chicago marathon in 2001. Since then, he has run in six continents. He’s deeply rooted to running so much so that the name of his company is called Running and Living. He promotes lesser known marathons across the country with the aim of conveying how one can keep healthy and fit by running.
It all started in 2000 when Verghese bought a treadmill in his Chicago home since he wanted to keep himself fit but couldn’t go out due to the cold.
Running for the ninth straight year, Verghese is one of the many who feels that the city’s marathon is like no other. “The people of Mumbai make this marathon so special. You can complain about the heat and the humidity, but no one can even think of complaining that they didn’t have the crowd cheering them on for every single step. I’ve been across the world, I’ve never seen anything like this and with each passing year, I doubt I ever will.”