Bangaloreans all set to run Boston Marathon

Posted on Apr 21 2014 - 10:26pm by IBC News

downloadOn the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, the participants from Bangalore tell us why they have no fear of participating at the event

Tomorrow, Ashok Nath will be taking to the streets of Boston with mixed emotions. The four-time Boston Marathon participant was there when two pressure cooker bombs were set off during the event last year on April 15, injuring hundreds. His strongest memory of the moment he heard about the blast is one of sadness.

“So many runners who had trained so hard to be there were stopped 5 km from the finish,” he rues, recalling how he switched on the TV at his hotel, two hours after completing the race, and found out.

“Security around the city had been tightened. Any late afternoon plans to attend the Winners Ceremony were cancelled.” But that hasn’t stopped him, and 34,000 others from participating in the event this year, an increase from last year’s 26,839. In fact, two others from Bangalore— Vaishali Kasture and Bhasker Sharma — will be making their maiden appearance this year.

Training hard For investment banker Kasture, the overwhelming emotion is that of resilience. She says the community of runners are a tough lot. “Last year’s incident hardly worries us,” she says. And she has been training on the double, ever since she qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Holy Family Memorial (HFM) Maritime Marathon held in Wisconsin, last June.

“You can’t just register and run the race. You have to earn your right to run with the world’s best runners,” she admits. Which is why the 44-year-old has been following a strict regimen for three months. Her training includes a tempo run, speed run and a long run thrice a week. Kasture says she plans her training sessions in advance to be able to fit it in with work. “I usually start early, which helps me focus on work during the day.”

As does 55-year-old Bhasker Sharma, director of Alcatel Lucent India, for whom running the Marathon will be a culmination of a five-year dream, ever since he ran his first Sub 4-hour marathon at the Sun Trust National Marathon in March 2009. “The first 15 miles are mostly flat/rolling hills. But the cumulative effect can be quite devastating if one is not careful,” he says.

Sharma has been following the Run Less, Run Faster, a book with a detailed training programme for first time marathoners. Thrice a week he runs, while he cycles twice a week. “I typically eat bananas and some nuts one or two hours after waking up,” he says.

Running to a goal Nath, Kasture and Sharma fall in the top 80 per cent runners of the world, having qualified for this showpiece event. In fact, Nath was the only Indian on his maiden run in 2010. This year, he hopes to better his two-hour-59-minute timing from 2013. “The first time, I took three hours and eight minutes. The first few runs were eye-openers. The calibre of the runners is amazing. By 2018, I hope to win it,” he says. “I always come back with a renewed zeal to do better than the previous time.”

“Over the years the number of runners has increased,” he says. Kasture agrees and adds, “Until eight-10 years ago, there wouldn’t be that many women. Even when I developed a serious interest in fitness in 2010, that was the case. That’s changed today, but most women still have safety concerns. It’s time for us to challenge them.”

Sharma, meanwhile, says the day of the last Boston Marathon was “the worst” of his life. “I was unable to get any work done and spent the day reading and re-reading blast-related stories.” But he hopes the running community pushes itself to show that the senselessness of a few cannot beat the solidarity and communal achievement of the human spirit. It is time to hit the ground running.

Fact File – Five thousand runners who could not complete the race last year will be eligible for direct entry. – Hosted by the Boston Athletic Association, the 118th edition of the road race will pass through eight town and cities, starting at Hopkinton, through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and concluding at Boston. The 42.195 km course will see the runners pass through rough terrain. After the 25 km mark, the road goes up a series of hills. The last of the four hills known as the Heartbreak Hill is enough to cause one.