- How did your initiation into running happen? And when?
I was always interested in outdoor sports, but could not follow any sports early in life due to family finances and consequently the focus being only education. I grew up in a modest one room tenement in the housing board colony of Tilak Nagar, Chembur. However whenever schools used to shut for vacations, I along with my building boys used to run a couple of kilometres early morning. Later on once I started working, I got seriously hooked into hiking and rock climbing and as a part of strengthening the legs, I used to run around 5 kms every weekend. I was always in awe of athletes and especially the distance runners, and used to keenly watch such events on TV. I wanted to run distances, but could not sum up the guts to venture into it.
Then the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon happened and I so much wanted to be a part of the event, but still could not muster enough courage to register myself. Then one fine day in July 2005, the cloudburst happened in Mumbai which left us stranded in office for a day. The next day I trekked from my office at Prabhadevi to my home in Chandivali a distance of approximately 20kms in a little over 4 hours. That is when I realised that running/ walking a half marathon within that time was a feasible option. I started training from the next month, mostly on the Eastern Express Highway, initially 5-10 kms and gradually scaled the same to 20km. However as luck would have it, 15 days before the race I pulled a hamstring and was doubtful of completing the race, but with a bit of physiotherapy and painkillers and a lot of guts I finished the Standard Chartered Mumbai half marathon of January, 2006 in 2:35 mins. Thus began my long association with running.
- What was the reason you got into running?
I don’t think there was any specific reason for getting into running apart from being fit and building up endurance for my long treks. However once bitten by the bug, now I run more for the joy of running and exploring the limits that I can push. One of the joys of running is the amazing amount of friends that I have accumulated. The kind of love and affection that I have got over the years is hard to describe and put down on paper. It is an experience.
- What was your initial experience when you started running in Mumbai in terms of weather, people’s response the roads, traffic and crowds?
I have been fortunate at not having any adverse experiences even initially, apart from the fact that I was alone on the roads running, and would sometimes meet some people who were out for walks. Initially dogs were a bother, but looks like most of them have got used to runners now. I have been born and brought up in Mumbai, and hence the weather never really bothered me. However with serious training now, I realise that one has to take it easy during summers. Therefore now summers are the off season training days where I concentrate more on heart rate based slow runs and on improving the form. Being an avid trekker, I thoroughly enjoy running in the rains and in the winter. As regards crowd behavior, sometimes earlier I had experienced young boys calling out of vehicles and making fun, but that’s probably their way of enjoyment and I leave it at that. But in recent times, I have seen that people look at runners with a lot of respect.
- How did you hear about Bandra NCPA monthly run? Any memorable or funny moments?
It was somewhere in 2009, when Saurabh a friend asked me if I was interested in coming to Borivali National Park on a Sunday for a 10k run. I agreed, and it turned out that Giles Drego, whom I met for the first time there, had initiated the run to introduce people to running. One thing lead to another and a group was formed on the Runners For Life web page. This led to many local running groups being formed, like the Run Run Run, Mumbai Marathon Runners, Navi Mumbai Runners, and Bandra runners ( I forget the group name). This is where Giles, Ram, Milton, myself and few others got together and started organizing events like the BNP Half Marathon, which ran for three consecutive years. Milton was instrumental in starting the Bandra NCPA run as a training route for all those training for the SCMM, since the route was the same. Hence I was a part of the initial runs itself, though I cannot recollect the dates. Each of these runs have been memorable and runners from far and wide across Mumbai have participated all along. Hence it has truly become a melting pot of runners. It will be difficult to single out a moment out of so many treasured moments, but the ones that stand out are the runs with Kothandapani Sir and Barefoot Ted. Both awesome runners. The chit chats, the cheering at the finish, and the jokes and camaraderie, and above all the breakfast at the Irani restaurants all sum up to make the Bandra NCPA runs so awesome. The Anniversary runs also have been very memorable, with the cakes and celebrations.
- A word on your association with Mumbai Road Runners and Bandra-NCPA run
I have been associated with Mumbai Road Runners since its earlier avatar Mumbai marathon Runners and we have organized so many events, in which I have had some part to play, though the lions share of all the efforts were always by Ram, Milton, Giles and few others. Hence my association with the Bandra NCPA runs have also been since its inception. These monthly runs have a special place in my heart as we all started the fire! A run not to be missed for anytime if one is in Mumbai. Let the cheers and the tribe of selfless volunteers increase, for they are the life of the Bandra NCPA runs.