Six Indians from varied backgrounds for 24-hour World Marathon Championships
Four men two women are in the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) six-member squad of ultra marathoners who will represent India in the 24-hour World Championships to be held in Belfast on July 1other sports Updated: Apr 23, 2017 16:20 IST
What does an animator, a charted accountant, a central government employee, an Oxford graduate and a research fellow at PGI, Chandigarh have in common? A passion for running. Coming from varied background, they --- four men (Amit Kumar, Kieren D’Souza, Arun Bharadwaj, Ullas Narayana) and two women (Aparna Choudhary and Meenal Sukhija) --- are in the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) six-member squad of ultra marathoners who will represent India in the 24-hour World Championships to be held in Belfast on July 1.
The championship is being organised by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), which is affiliated to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The Indian federation recently became a member.
Bitten by running bug
Choudhary, 38, is an MBA from Oxford and has run 11 races, including the 89km Comrades Marathon while Meenal, 36, is a Delhi-based CA, who began running ultra marathons in 2014.
In the men’s section, Kieren D’Souza, 24, was the first Indian to run the Spartathlon, a 246-km race in Greece, finishing in 33 hours, 25 minutes to be ranked 84th out of 370 runners from 40 countries.
Arun Bhardwaj, 48, is a government official with a running experience of 15 years. Ullas Narayana, 37, lives in Vancouver and is an animator for Industrial Light and Magic.
Amit, a 33-year-old research fellow in medical biotechnology at PGIMER, Chandigarh, took up running to stay fit. After initially running half-marathons, Amit graduated to ultra marathon and has taken part in a number of events.
A mental battle
“This is a great initiative by AFI, to join IAU, and this has opened the doors for the running community in India for competing at the World Championships. My happiness knows no bounds, it’s a once in a life time opportunity to represent the country,” said Amit, who runs 15-20km everyday to prepare for ultra marathons.
Amit said it is the passion for running that keeps them going and that the 24-hour runs are more tiring mentally then physically. “Diet and preparations play an important part and you have to be mentally very strong to survive the ordeal,” Amit, who cut his teeth in the discipline with an 80km run, said.