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Nitendra Singh Rawat hobbled and happy after first London marathon

The demanding course took its toll on the 32-year-old armyman from Bageshwar, Uttarakhand as he finished 27th overall, still clocking an impressive 2:15.59.

other sports Updated: Apr 29, 2019 00:41 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nitendra Singh Rawat,London marathon,Eliud Kipchoge
Indian Elite winner, Nitendra Singh Rawat finishes top among Indian contestants during Tata Marathon.(Hindustan Times)

Rubbing shoulders with marathon aristocracy was a new experience for Nitendra Singh Rawat, as it was to observe the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah just warm-up. “Sab ke sath mai warm-up kiya, ek sath elite tent aur mein mein the,” (I warmed up with them, was in the tent for elite runners and in their bus), Rawat said.

Being the first Indian to race in the elite category in the London Marathon was uncharted territory, exhilarating. However, the demanding course took its toll on the 32-year-old armyman from Bageshwar, Uttarakhand as he finished 27th overall, still clocking an impressive 2:15.59.

Rawat, having prepared in the altitude of Ranikhet, had the ambition of surpassing the 41-year-old national record of 2:12, set by the late Shivnath Singh in 1978. The early progress was promising as he reached the halfway point at 1:06:35.

But then calf tightness due pounding the demanding inclines slowed him down, though he braved the pain to finish just outside his personal best of 2:15:18. At the 25km mark, the pace was a solid 3:09 km/hr. But it fell and the final few kilometers became an ordeal.

“After 27-28 km, my calf began tightening up, and running became very tough after the 30km mark. I finished with great difficulty,” Rawat said over phone from London.

“Course up and down hai to calf aur jyada problem karne lage.”(As the course was up and down, calf started giving more trouble).

But Rawat said running in one of the world’s six marathon majors – Tokyo, Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York are the others – was an eye-opener on preparing to succeed at the highest level.

The learning starts with warm-up routines. “Their exercises are different from ours. They do swinging exercises, it means swinging hands and legs,” he said, trying to provide a picture of the sub 2:10 runners getting ready to race from thousands of miles away.

“Hum to bus shoes aur kit mai bib lagaye chal diye race ke liye,” (I just landed for the race with my shoes and bib in the kit bag) he added with a tinge of regret.

“But the overall experience was very good. I found out all about professional races.”

So, will it help him? “A lot,” he said. “First of all, I must put in a lot more effort in training. Today I realised how all those runners who are better than me prepare for a race at this level.”

Once back from London, Rawat wants to regain his place in the national camp. Then he can start his quest to reach a new level ahead of the Doha World Championships in September and the Tokyo Olympics.

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 00:41 IST