If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon- Emil Zatopek
Running a marathon gives a certain high. The adrenaline rush and the endorphins released boosts and keep one active throughout the day. Adding onto this, running with a partner makes the journey, even more, brighter and merrier. This Valentine’s Day we bring to you 5 power duos, husband-wife, father-son, mother-daughter, father-daughter who have taken running a notch higher. Their determination, discipline, and enthusiasm to conquer together is indeed remarkable.
Father-Son Duo Who Run Together
Dr. Rejeesh and his son Swaroop run, cycle, fish and have a number of coffee break talks together. It is a different experience for the father and son who share multiple things with each other while they train together.
“It has a positive impact on us and we discuss a lot of things. He opens up a lot to me. We may discuss his school, interests or friends.” says Dr. Rejeesh Selvaganesan, a Surgical Gastroenterologist and Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon, who has been running marathons since the last two years. His son Swaroop S. R, a fourth-grade student in Choice School, Kochi, Kerala has already completed four 5km marathons in the last one year! Swaroop doesn’t mind waking up during the wee hours of the morning along with his dad to go running or cycling. In fact, he enjoys it and feels happy and pumped up after engaging in any outdoor activity.
Dr. Rejeesh’s running journey started after there was a mass casualty due to a road accident in Kerala. A lot of people were injured and a 5-year-old child passed away as a result of a head injury at his hospital. “I couldn’t sleep that night and went outside. I alternated between walking and running for 10 km and at the end of it, I realized I felt better. It was a good stress buster. That made me think, -‘Why not start running consistently’”.
Dr. Rejeesh is an enthusiastic cyclist and cycles for over 70-80km during weekends. His entire family are nature lovers and indulge in cycling, running, fishing, kiting in and around Kochi. He loves bird photography and never misses an opportunity to wake up at 4.30 and explore Mother Nature. In fact, the love for nature is quite prominent among all the four members of his family including his wife, son and 7-year-old daughter, Varunika. His wife Dr.Revathi Rejeesh, a fertility specialist says that Saturday evenings and Sundays are dedicated entirely for the family time.
Swaroop generally cycles for around 20km and couples it with a 3km run; taking occasional breaks in between sometimes for a coffee. Dr. Rejeesh says, “We encourage our children to go out and play. These days children are addicted to gadgets and ps3. The other day when I returned home, he asked me to come out and play football with him. I felt glad and went outside to play with him. Any form of physical activity is a stress reliever. Counselling and advice may not work all the time. Apart from that, the present generation has a high risk of developing diabetes, obesity and heart diseases.”
Dr. Rejeesh has ran for some 20-23 marathons which include 7 half marathons and a half triathlon. Although his busy schedule has made him cancel going for a marathon or two in the past, he always makes it a point to go for a run or cycle.
Mister and The Missus, Who’s The Boss?
Dileepan Sreedharan and Saroja Sreedharan have a common love for athletics and sports that stems from their college days. Dileepan was a footballer and athlete in college while his wife Saroja was a state level athlete who ran short runs.
It so happened that 13 years back her college coach met them after 25 years and asked them to start running again with a group of friends. Slowly they began running short runs and training along with their coach. When Nike Run Club was formed their coach, invited all of them to join the club. They made a lot of friends there and started running long distances. Their training sessions were on Saturday and Sunday. Dileepan jokes, “I don’t think running was an issue as I had experience running with my Alsatian dog. He was a bit aggressive and used to run real fast whenever we went out for a walk.”
From left- Dileepan, Saroja, and fellow marathon runners during a marathon
What started off with the 10K TCS run in Bengaluru in 2006 has graduated to covering numerous cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mysore and umpteen number of half marathons in Bengaluru. The couple have a weekly timetable that they follow with the PaceMakers, a running group that they are a part of. Both of them reach Kanteerva stadium at 5a.m. where they train. Tuesdays are for speed training while Thursdays are for a different kind of training. They finish the training by 7.30a.m. They absolutely love their Pacemakers group and travel together when they go for marathons. At times they finish their marathons, party and return home from different cities.
Dileepan has covered almost all the 10km marathons in the last ten years, Mumbai half-marathons, twice two full marathons and now aims to run the Boston Marathon.
He says, “Running and keeping fit has helped me and Saroja stay away from any sort of ailments. If I didn’t run I would probably be hypertensive.”
When asked who is the better runner amongst the two, he says, “Well one can’t compare a man and a woman’s pace. But personally, I feel she is a better runner. She has consistency and always listens to the coach.”
Running Runs In This Family!
Imagine a family where the mother and twin daughters run together and all the three make it to podium wins while the father who is a dedicated doctor runs to raise funds for his patients?
Well, this is exactly what it is like with Avani, her twin daughters Anushka and Astha and husband Dr. Amish Vora. Avani Vora, who is a physical fitness consultant and recreational marathon runner, started walking in 2010 in order to lose weight. What started off as a walk, slowly build into a run of 1km. Avani has run 25 half marathons and 3 full marathons across Delhi, Mumbai.Amritsar, Noida, and Gurgaon. She has had numerous podium wins to her credit. Her twins Anushka and Astha who are eleven years old have participated in various runs and continue to win just like their mother.
Astha, Avani and Anushka
The twin girls have been very active and play more than 11 Sports-Football, basketball, baseball, throwball, skating, badminton, swimming, gymnastics, lawn tennis, taekwondo, table tennis!
Avani says, “For them running wasn’t as such a sport but a warm up to every sport they played. They enjoyed it then and there and while they saw me running they got more interested. They have been all-rounders at school, be it academics or sports and their principal even invited them for a lunch with her.
I have been running for almost 8 years now. Although running is something I enjoy, I feel I can connect with myself while I run; it helps in killing all the negative energy within and makes me a better human being both mentally and physically. On weekdays, I train early in the mornings and on weekends we run together.
While running, Avani bonds a lot with her daughters. She says, “We tend to share a lot and at times they share some issues that their friends are going through. All this keeps me close to them.”
Her husband, a cancer specialist and medical oncologist has a really hectic work schedule but has been running half marathons for raising funds for his patients. He raised 6 lakhs for his patient Tanmay’s treatment and 4.5 lakhs for his patient Mauzana. A lot of his friends, who see him working, really appreciate this noble deed and help Dr. Amish with this. The process is people who want to donate to the children give Rs. 1000 for every km that he runs.
Avani says, “Amish is the force behind the three of us running. He is always there to boost our confidence and support us in the best possible way that he can. He is ‘our pillar of strength’. He too joins us on weekend runs and we all feel blessed to run as a family”
The family’s motto is “RUN FOR A BETTER TOMORROW.”
Shloka Murthy, daughter of Murthy R.K. is definitely a running prodigy, to say the least. Having no prior experience with running, her father Murthy, told her to run the Pinkathon in Bengaluru in 2015. The little girl who hadn’t even registered for the event ran in the Women’s 5 km category and bagged the 4th position at the age of 9!
Murthy soon realised his daughter’s tremendous potential and made her run a couple more marathons, all in which she bagged one among the top three positions! After that, there was no looking back for Shloka, a 7th-grade student of Sri Kumarans School, Bengaluru.
Few of her achievements include Pinkathon 2016, Bangalore, Bronze, 5km, Pinkathon 2016, Chennai, Silver, 5km, Pinkathon 2017, Bangalore, Bronze, 5km, Pinkathon 2017, Chennai, Gold, 5km, Silver medal in 10k at Ajmera Thump, Women’s category.
Murthy R.K who is a marathon runner himself ensures that he gets a position at all the marathons, he participates in. To date he has participated in 20 full marathons and around 40 half marathons across Bangaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Scotland, Germany and the U.S. Murthy quit his corporate job around two years back to pursue his passion for fitness and sports. He started the Ashva Running Club where he trains corporates, children at school and people looking out to lead a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
He says, “I really feel Shloka is a future potential for India. Whenever she wins I take her to my club and talk to the people there who make her really feel like a celebrity. It motivates her and she feels happy.
I always like to encourage small children to engage in some sort of activity. But for that parents should lead by example. Do you know that research says around 35% of children are prone to obesity? Consistency, commitment, hard work and passion are required to follow a healthy lifestyle.”
His advice to friends, family and clients –“Rain or shine- Let’s train!”
72 and 64, So What?
It all started in 2006 when Sharada Venkatraman and Retd. Brigadier Venkataraman Krishnan went to visit their son Dr. Krishnan who was pursuing his Ph.D. in molecular genetics in the U.S. Looking at his parents stay indoors all day while he went for his research, he said “Why don’t the two of you start running. I’ll make a three-month plan for you.”
“I seriously thought our son had gone nuts! Here is a lady coming from a TamBrahm family whose interests lay in music, dance, and education. I had no experience doing even a short jog, let alone a run. My husband’s in the army, so of course, he was a good runner. I was initially very reluctant but our son was the guiding force behind us. He made a detailed plan that included everything. Food, exercises, how to train, the correct gear, clothes, everything! He would take our feedback daily after he returned home. Under his guidance, we trained with utmost commitment and after three months ran our first marathon together in Stowe, U.S. It was my debut half marathon at the age of 52 and I completed it in 2hrs and 20 min bagging a position.” says Sharada.
Sharada, 64 and her husband Brigadier Venkataraman, 72 continued to run and after they returned to India, it was like a bug had bitten them. They had become so passionate about running and trained daily in Parade Ground in Bengaluru at 4.30. a.m. After that, they participated in a marathon every fortnight and three to four years back they joined the PaceMakers, a running group in Bengaluru.
Sharada has been continuously winning accolades for her runs since the past 12 years. Her shelves do not have any more space to showcase her medals and trophies!
“The best moment that filled me with pride was when I won the silver medal in The Asian meet in Malaysia in 2011 where I represented India. I cannot forget the moment the Indian flag went high up and the screen read ‘Sharada Venkataraman’.”
She has won the gold at the national level several times. Both Sharadha and her husband have so far covered a zillion marathons across Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad , U.S , Singapore and Malaysia. The couple say that both of them wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much had they done it alone. They thank God every day for being so supportive towards each other. They train together along with their running group and friends and totally relish their common passion.
Sharada who is a therapeutic yoga trainer and TOEFEL and IELTS trainer says that her biggest challenge is managing her work and her other jobs. However, she and her husband always find time to pursue running.
She says, “ My message to all the women out there is – “At the age of 52 , if I could kick start this journey, then why can’t you?”
Sharada has been featured in the video Limitless that explores the lives of eight long-distance women runners, who rediscovered themselves through running.
This is a part of Chaaipani’s Valentine’s Day series
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