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Pune runner Pravin Zele smashes world record by running barefoot

The 37-year-old city businessman started his attempt on Maharashtra Day (May 1, 2017) and finished it on National Sports Day (August 29).

pune Updated: Aug 30, 2017 10:35 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,runner,Pravin Zele
Zele was running. Barefoot. Covering 21km a day. Every day. For 121 days. That is now his, and Pune’s, Guinness World Record.(HT PHOTO)

For city runner Pravin Zele, successfully achieving a Guinness World Record has been all about conquering challenges and overcoming difficulties. Fatigue, injuries, heavy rain... no, he was not climbing a mountain, though the task was just as arduous.

Zele was running. Barefoot. Covering 21km a day. Every day. For 121 days. That is now his, and Pune’s, Guinness World Record.

The 37-year-old city businessman started his attempt on Maharashtra Day (May 1, 2017) and finished it on National Sports Day (August 29). In the past four months he ran a total of 2,541kms.

“It was a challenging task, but at the same time I enjoyed every bit of it. There were some moments when I felt my body is no longer supporting my mission, but I carried on entirely on will power. I feel great that I have achieved something nobody else in the world has,” Zele told HT.

For Zele, running regularly for long periods of time is nothing new. He has been running for the last five years and has participated in over 500 marathons. Last year he ran 21km daily for 100 days, but that was not enough for a new world record. So, he prepared himself to run 121 days.

“I had already run 100 days successively, so I knew what it takes in terms of efforts, preparation and diet. I was mentally prepared, but those remaining 21 days were the ultimate torture test. On the 114th day, I almost fainted while running, got cramps in my legs and I felt I can’t continue now. But, I just kept going on sheer will power and finally managed it,” he says.

Zele would start running early in the morning at 4.30 am and would finish the 21km - half marathon - in less than 2.5 hours. For almost 20-25 days, he completed it within two hours. He would track his timing and distance on his GPS watch and the Guinness committee was also keeping a watch on him. To break the monotony of the running, he ran in different cities like Satara, Nashik, Mumbai, Sangli and Miraj, with different runners. Many running enthusiasts joined him every day.

World record diet

The most important part of the challenge was to maintain a diet and follow a routine to get enough rest. Zele followed it without fail for four months.

“I was losing almost 2,000-2,500 calories everyday. To compensate for the loss I was required to have a rich protein diet. I ate large amounts of fresh fruits, green vegetables and drank protein shakes, completely avoiding oily food and rice. I still lost around 14kg,” he says.

Interestingly, Zele, who owns a travel and tourism company, Santosh Travels on SB road, didn’t let the running challenge interrupt his work. Zele never took a day because of his running.

Barefoot soldier

The most challenging part for any runner is to get the right footwear, to reduce injury chances and ensure maximum leverage of output versus effort. However, for Zele, running barefoot is best.

“I have been running barefoot for the last three years and I got so used to it that I can’t run wearing shoes now. The soles of my feet have become so stiff that I can easily run on any hard surface. However, I don’t like concrete roads as they are harder and can lead to injuries,” he adds.

Zele, who was a state-level hockey player earlier, lost his right eye when a hockey ball hit his face. He therefore decided to dedicate his Guinness record to the cause of ‘No more avoidable blindness’.

Zele is now aiming for another, equally challenging, feat next year.

“My plan is to run a full marathon everyday for 42 successive days. So, ‘42 by 42 ‘is my new goal for 2018,” he says.

Pravin Zele’s Guinness World Record

* Running 21km daily

* Consecutivelyfor 121 days

* A total of 2,541km

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 10:33 IST