May, typically an offseason period for all us runners. The heat and humidity in Mumbai is what most of us describe as killing. Most of us get into maintenance mode and run minimal distances just to keep our fitness levels in check. However there are some runners who look upon this month as a challenge. They throw aside all reasoning and log phenomenal mileages. Well, 512.23kms to be precise. Meet Giles Drego, a runner and coach who needs no introduction. The King from the Queen of the Suburbs!
1. How did your initiation into running happen? And when?
On my First Race Day there wasn’t much crowd; hardly any cheering as in today’s day and age; but towards the finish there was ‘some’ cheering and ‘some’ crowd, all looking on, as we runners tried our Best to sprint the last 100 or 200 mtrs to the finish. The crowd looked on in Awe as at that time not many people ran. We were looked upon as “really fit guys”. And those finishing the Half in 2hrs or there abouts were considered like “hey these guys are really good”. It was certainly a heady feeling of Joy and Pride, Achievement and we Danced Right There at the Finish Line (that doesn’t happen now though”.
I remember the 2007 HM clearly. The road opened out to free running within 200mtrs unlike today, where in the SCMM HM one has to push, jostle, elbow and zig zag his way through for almost 4-5k before one finds enough space to run freely.
2. What was the reason I got into running??
By age 50 I was overweight and couldnt run at all. Even to Walk to the nearest Bus Stop was an arduous task. I would think “in my late 20s I was so much in such good shape, was toned an fit” and “now I am 50+ an Look at how I have become”
So one fine day, on 3rd Nov, 2006 wen I was 50+ I decided to run and get back in shape, get fit an toned like I used to. I decided “I must do the marathon”. In running, exercising and training, I knew I would get fit.
3. What was your initial experience when you started running in Mumbai, in terms of weather, people’s response, the roads, traffic and crowds?
As I started training from November 2006, the weather was not hot. It was Cool weather to train in an I didn’t have any problems running from November to Race Day in January. Later on, in the summer months it was almost No Training as summer months were too hot to train. Today, however, quite a few runners train even in the hot summer months.
After the summer months passed an the monsoons began, training would re-start an I would train by running in the rain.
Initially people would wonder why I was running so much. Many thought I was crazy to run so much. My family too thought I ran too much an they all wondered whether it would tell on my health.
Roads and traffic though didn’t bother me too much as I ran in my vicinity where there wasn’t much traffic and the road was good.
Running in other parts of the city was and Is tricky. On coming traffic is a hazard the runner has to face whenever he runs on crowded roads and I always was at risk of being knocked down. But running on the side of the roads is how I just about managed.
Running on crowded roads was and Is a problem even to this day. I continue to face the ire of slow moving vehicles, honking and drivers even giving me ‘gaalis’ on one side and on the other side when I would run on the pavement, people
4. How did I hear about the Bandra-NCPA monthly run??
Hahahaha!! I didn’t hear about the Bandra-NCPA run — I Started it (along with Ram Venkataraman and Milton Frank). We were then on the Runners for Life (RFL) site and I had my own group there by name ‘Run Mumbai Run’ where many runners followed my tips, msgs, chats, discussions on running. Milton Frank too had his own group RFL by name ‘Bandra Runners’. Milton came up with the idea that we run from Bandra to NCPA and thats how this Bandra-NCPA run was born. Ram, Milton, myself an 2 or 3 others ran the First Bandra-NCPA run. We later promoted this Bandra-NCPA run on RFL.
I don’t remember any funny or awkward moments in the Bandra-NCPA run. But some memorable runs were certainly there.
We once called Kothandapani Sir all the way from Bangalore to grace one of our Anniversary Runs and we paid for his airfare to and fro.
I must Mention, at that time, we had a few notable volunteers like Mumtaz Querishi, Laxminarayan Iyer (Mani), who arranged for water an bananas at the finish. Anand (Ram’s brother) got Gatorade to sponsor energy drink. Ram and myself helped in other activities.
Another very memorable Bandra-NCPA run was when the Great Ted McDonald (a.k.a Barefoot Ted and who features in the book Born to Run) came and ran the Bandra-NCPA run with us.
We honoured Barefoot Ted by cutting a chocolate cake made in the shape of a Bare Foot.
5. A word on your association with Mumbai Road Runners and Bandra-NCPA run.
I am associated with Mumbai Road Runners (MRR) for long. Right from its inception. And I would like to continue being associated with MRR. But not being too Net Savvy, am unable to contribute in a big way via Net, E-mail, though in person I am definitely up-to-it to do my bit.
As a footnote I may add that I have done the Most No. of Bandra-NCPA runs — 53 till date. July 5th, 2015 will be my 55th bandra-ncpa run.