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The World’s greatest Runner – Part 2

Continuing with our series on the world’s greatest runners, Capt Seshadri talks about Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovet, known for their incredible performance and speed.

We have two more runners for your this week. They have set the tracks on fire with their dedication, performance and running style.

Knight Runner

Trinity College, Cambridge, has a clock within the Great Court, that takes 43.6 seconds to strike the 12 chimes of noon or midnight. The 1981 movie Chariots of Fire features a scene in which the runners attempt to run around the perimeter of the Court, a distance of 367 metres, within this time.

Sebastian Newbold Coe, now Baron Coe, CH KBE,was once credited with having achieved this stupendous feat in 42.3 seconds, only two other runners having succeeded in doing so in years as far apart as 1927 and 2007. Unfortunately, even with sufficient time left, a video recording indicated that he was 12 metres short of the finish, and his name does not feature in the record books.

Lord Coe is a living legend. Now a British politician and the convener of the London Olympics, this former middle distance runner was born on September 29, 1956. Coe came into the athletics limelight in 1977, winning but barely missing out on the world record in the 800 metres European Indoor Championships in San Sebastian. In 1979, he set three world records within a space of 41 days, in the 800 metres, the metric mile and the 1500 metres and followed it with four Olympic medals in 1980 and 1984.

Seb Coe had a training schedule that was peculiar; successful for him and criticised by some as a ‘complete waste of resources’, while attributing his successes to ‘genetic ability’. His workouts included a huge amount of gym work with weights, concentrating on the lower body, back and shoulders, and systematic core building. Even in the early days, he believed in ‘circuit training’ with high reps and short recoveries. He was a staunch advocate of Pylometrics – the transfer of strength to power that was specific to running.

During the cold months, Coe would run at a moderate pace of 5 km, sprint uphill with long gaps of recovery and compete with sprinters to preserve the element of speed.He developed a reputation of pushing hard during the later stages of long runs, sometimes doing 16 km in ¾ of an hour.

Although there is not much information on his eating habits, his seemingly erratic methods of training provoked his detractors to observe that if his diet was like his training, he was probably drinking lots of soda and eating peanut butter sandwiches.

His rivalry on the track with Steve Ovett is the stuff of legends. Interestingly or rather, sadly, Seb Coe is colour blind.

The runner with the kick

Stephen Michael James ‘Steve’ Ovett, OBE, was born in Brighton, England on October 9, 1955. A champion middle distance runner, he won Olympic gold in Moscow in 1980, while also setting world records in the 1500 metres and the metric mile. In the mid 70s, the 1500 metres champion was a runner named John Walker; but in 1977, Steve Ovett shot to prominence with his regular wins over Walker. A great finisher, in the European Cup 1500 metres, he produced an unbelievable last lap of 52.4 seconds to pip his competitor to the post.

As a teenager, Steve was noticed for his prowess as a footballer, but reportedly gave up the sport, not wanting to indulge in a game where he would have to rely on his team mates. The ‘kick’ of football seemed however, to be part of his genes for, in the inaugural IAAF Athletics World Cup, with 200 metres left for the finish, he produced a tremendous ‘kick’, taking the last turn in 11.8 seconds and completing the final 200 metres in 25.1, leaving the rest of the field, led by John Walker, way behind him. It is recorded that Walker was left so surprised by this sudden kick that he simply stood and watched, dropping out of the race with 120 metres left to go.

Steve Ovett was coached by Harry Wilson, one of the best trainers of those days. In his book ‘Running My Way” Wilson describes, among others, Ovett’s methodical training schedule. A base of 24 weeks was broken down into 6 sessions of 4 weeks each, further classified into easy running, medium effort and hard aerobic running. In these 24 weeks, Ovett would average around 160 to 190 km per week. The intensity and speed would steadily increase with around 70% being done at a steadily medium pace, pushing hard at the end with the balance 30%. All this was combined with bouts of soft, anaerobic speed training.

Steve Ovett confesses that he had only one really tough opponent, although they raced against each other only six times. However, their competition and rivalry stayed firmly on the track alone; nothing was personal or political. To reproduce some quotes of Steve Ovett that immortalises this rivalry:

Make no mistake, when the gun was fired, both of us wanted to win as badly as the other and that’s probably what drove us on to achieve what we did.But when you look at his place in the history of middle-distance running now, Seb Coe is one of the all-time greats.From first-hand experience of trying to catch the bugger, he was the hardest to run against because every compartment of his racing technique was bullet-proof.”

Stephen Michael Ovett, OBE now lives in Australia, working as an athletics commentator with CBC. However, his legacy lives on in Preston Park, his home town of Brighton, where a bronze statue was erected in 1987. Twenty years later it suddenly went missing and was finally replaced with a copy in 2012.



Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams






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The World’s Greatest Distance Runners

Capt Seshadri is looking at the world’s greatest distance runners in the first part of this series we present three of the all time greats.

Great runners have shown the world that challenges diminish against our spirit and endurance. In the first of the series, I am talking about runners who were so fast that they gained nicknames for their speed such as The Flying Finnn and the Czech Locomotive. These three runners have awed the world with their speed, skill and determination as they flew across the tracks to stamp their place in history.

The Flying Finn

Twenty two official world records at various distances between 1500 metres and 20 kilometres. Nine golds and three silvers in twelve events at the Olympics. Undefeated at distances of 800 metres and above for 121 races. And, spanning a 14-year career, unbeaten in cross country events and the 10,000 metres.

A non-conformist, both as an athlete and as a soldier, while the rest of his army colleagues walked, Paavo Johannes Nurmi ran with a rifle on his shoulder and a backpack full of sand. To strengthen his legs, he wore heavy boots and ran behind trains while holding on to the rear bumper.

Having made his international debut in the 1920 Olympics, Nurmi became the first and, to date, the only runner to hold the world record in the mile, the 5000 metres and the 10,000 metres at the same time. Such was his endurance and fortitude that he established world records for the 1500 metres and the 5000 metres within an hour of each other, and even won gold in these events in a space of less than two hours at the 1924 Olympics.  Apparently not satisfied with these achievements, he changed focus to longer distances, breaking the world records for the one hour run and the 25-mile marathon.

The Flying Finn later coached Finnish runners and pursued a career in haberdashery, construction and as a share trader. Nurmi, who would always run with a stopwatch in hand, is recognised for what is known as the “even pace” and credited with making running a major international sport, influencing the running styles of several future generations.

The Czech Locomotive

Working at the Bata factory at the tender age of 16, Emil Zatopek was asked by his manager to run a race against a hundred of his peers. Although initially reluctant to run, he came staggering in at second spot, which eventually drove him to train and excel in the sport. In 1944, a mere four years later, he broke the Czech records for the 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 metres. In later years, Zátopek became the only athlete to win the 5,000 metres, the 10,000 metres and the marathon in a single Olympics. In fact, his last lap in the 5,000 metres was an astounding 57.5 seconds.

His quite audible wheezing while running earned him the monikers “Emil the Terrible” and the “Czech Locomotive”. While training, weather was never a constraint; snow never deterred him. His unique way of relaxing while running was to gently touch the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index or middle finger; the simple contact ensured that the arms and shoulders remained relaxed.

The Mathematical Finn

This police officer turned athlete employed the technique of the ‘emptying exercise’ of many top runners. This entailed pushing themselves to a total exhaustion or lack of energy level so that their bodies could once again receive more energy, enabling them to repeat their top race performances. At the infamous 1972 Munich Olympics, Lasse Virén won both the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres races. With less than 150 metres to go, Virén caught up with the leading pack after losing about 20 metres owing to getting tangled with other runners. Earlier, with 600 metres to go, Virén had already started an unprecedented lap-and-a-half kick, finally winning in record time.

Lasse Viren had a special running style that worked to his advantage. He ran all the bends very close to the inner edge of the first lane, which spared him tens of metres compared to his main competitors. This metre-saving practice is called ‘bend’ or ‘curve’ mathematics and is advocated even to this day.


The next part of the series will feature more inspirational runners who have motivated generations to take to the tracks.



Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams

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Berhanu Legese and Almaz Ayana win 2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

–       Nitendra Singh Rawat wins in Elite Indian Men’s Category; breaks eight-year-old course record set by Deepchand Saharan in 2009 – 

–       L Suriya dominates Indian Women’s field and breaks course record set by Lalita Babar in 2015 edition –

The 2017 edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon lived up to its legacy of being the World’s most prestigious half marathon, with Procam International announcing and delivering a slew of initiatives to be able to provide athletes with a better running environment.

 The race turned out to be a bag full of surprises as favourites made way for new champions. The Indians had a fabulous race with Indian elites Nitendra Singh Rawat and L Suriya smashing the course records in their respective categories.

Winner of 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Berhanu Legese repeated his feat on Sunday winning the Men’s Elite Category at 59:46. Making her half-marathon debut, reigning 10,000m world champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana beat the women’s field with 1:07:11.


Ethiopia’s Berhanu Legese crosses the finish line in 59.46 seconds to win the overall men’s title at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, 2017 on Sunday.
Legese led Ethiopia’s 1-2 placing with compatriot Andamlak Belihu coming in five seconds later on his debut over the distance and American Leonard Korir came third clocking 59:52. 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon gold medalist Geoffrey Kirui finished a disappointing sixth with a timing of 1:00:04.

 Delighted at his repeat feat, Legese said the weather conditions were perfect to go for the kill. “The weather was great, there was no issue at all. In fact, the weather was favourable for a run like this. I would love to come back to Delhi to participate in the event again,” said Legese, who clocked 59:20 to win the 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

 Honourable Minister of State (IC) – Youth Affairs and Sports Col (Retd.) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore flagged off the race. Airtel Delhi Half Marathon International Event Ambassador Anthony Ervin, PUMA legend  Linford Christie and Honourable Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Vijay Goel were present at the event.

Nitendra Singh Rawat took home the Indian Elite Men’s title beating defending champion G Lakshmanan in a thrilling photo finish (1:03:53). Rawat and Lakshmanan were neck-to-neck through the entire course. It was the last 100 metres when the real battle started as Lakshmanan and Rawat sprinted to the finish line. In what looked like Lakshmanan would go on and defend his title, Rawat pipped him at the post as his foot touched the finishing line before the defending champions. Avinash Sable came third with 1:03:58.

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The Indian Elite Men Winners at the PD Stage of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, 2017 (L to R) 1st runner up G Lakshmanan, Winner Nitendra Singh Rawat 2ndrunner up Avinash Sable along with Chief Guest Ajai Puri, Director-Operations-Bharti Airtel, Puma Legend Linford Christie and Anthony Ervin-International Event Ambassador.

 Heading to the podium, Rawat, Lakshmanan and Sable also beat the course record set by Deepchand Saharan in 2009 of 1:04:00. Rawat said he had a point to prove by winning the race here. “I wanted to prove myself by winning this race so my strategy was to not take lead but keep going on until the end. This win will prove that I belong to the national camp,” said Rawat while speaking to media.

 Reigning world 10,000m champion Ayana was making her debut over the half marathon distance but hardly looked like a novice as she led home an Ethiopian clean sweep of the podium positions in the women’s race.


Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana crosses the finish line in 1.07.11 seconds to win the women’s overall title at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, 2017 on Sunday.
The outcome was decided in the final kilometer as she pulled away from her rivals. Ababel Yeshaneh was second again, as she was in 2016, and set a personal best for the second consecutive year as well, crossing the line in 1:07:19 to slice 33 seconds from her personal best. Completing the all-Ethiopian top three, Netsanet Gudeta also set a personal best of1:07:24 to improve her best by seven seconds.

 Asked how she felt to win her half-marathon debut, Ayana said, “There were not many good track competitions so I decided to participate in this event. I always run to win, and this race too wasn’t different,” said Ayana. When asked if she would come back to Delhi after making a winning debut, “Yes, I will come back next year,” Ayana said at her post-race interview.

 The Indian Elite Women’s category saw L Suriya clinching the top spot. “My coach Surendra sir told me to run my own race and maintain the pace throughout. I just did that but this wasn’t my best honestly,” said Suriya, who won the race by a minute. In the process, the 27-year old from Tamil Nadu set a course record with 1:10:31, beating Lalita Babar’s 2015 record at the event of 1:10:52Her performance should be good enough to secure her a place on the start line of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in the Spanish city of Valencia next March, which would be her first global championship outing.

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The Indian Elite Women Winners at the PD stage of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017 (L to R), 2nd runner-up Parul Choudhary, Winner L Suriya & 1st runner-up Sudha Singh). 

 Veteran Sudha Singh came second with 1:11:30 followed by Parul Chaudhary at 1:13:09.

 The winners got richer by US$27000 while runners-up got US$20000 and third-placed runners earned US$13000. First placed Indian Elite athletes earned Rs. 3,00,000 with runners-up getting Rs. 2,50,000 and third placed runners winning Rs. 1,75,000.

 A course record jackpot of Rs. 2,00,000 will be shared amongst all three Indian Elite Men’s winners Rawat, Lakshmanan and Sable while L Suriya will have the entire sum to herself.

 Procam International expressed their gratitude to the Delhi Police, Government of Delhi and the runners of Delhi for their support and hands-on participation in ensuring the success of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon held on Sunday. The mega event with a participation of over 34,000 would not have been possible without complete coordination and cooperation with the authorities.

 Following are the results:

Overall Athlete Men:

Berhanu Legese (ETH) 00:59:46; Andamlak Belihu (ETH) 00:59:51; Leonard Korir (US) 00:59:52; Asefa Negewo (ETH) 00:59:54; Jorum Okumbo (KEN) 00:59:58; Geoffrey Kirui (KEN)01:00:04; Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 01:00:06; Abadi Hadis (ETH) 01:00:25; John Langat (KEN) 01:00:41; Nitendra Singh Rawat (IND) 01:03:53  

Overall Athlete Women:

Almaz Ayana (ETH) 01:07:11; Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 01:07:19; Netsanet Gudeta (ETH) 01:07:24; Helah Kiprop (KEN) 01:08:07; Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 01:08:09; Paskalia Chepkorir (KEN) 01:08:46; Veronica Nyaruai (KEN) 01:09:02; L Suriya (IND) 01:10:29; Daria Maslova (KYR) 01:11:28 Sudha Singh (IND) 01:11:28.

Overall Indian Athlete Men:

Nitendra Singh Rawat (IND) 01:03: 53; G. Lakshmanan (IND) 01:03:53; Avinash Sable (IND) 01:03:58; Durgabahadur Budha (IND) 01:03:58; Kalidas Hirave (IND) 01:04:07; Pradeep  Singh (IND) 01:04:34; Abhishek Pal(IND) 01:05:42; Man Singh (IND) 01:05:46; Govind Singh (IND) 01: 05:49;  Deepak Negi (IND) 01:12:48.

Overall Indian Athlete Women:

L Suriya (IND) 01:10:31; Sudha Singh (IND) 01:11:30; Parul Choudhary (IND) 01:13:09; Swati Gadhave (IND) 01:15:21; Dimple Singh (IND) 01:18:53; Meenu (IND) 01:19:23; Sindhu Yadav (IND) 01:21:13; Arpita Saini (IND) 01:21:20; Jigmet Dolma (IND) 01:26:53; Tsetan Dolkar 1:29:43

 Jabong Run In Costume results


Adarsh Public School – Women Empowerment

Save the Children – India Equality for Women

Etasha Society – Empowering youth


Anshika Tanwar – River Replenishment

Bhavya Sharma – Animal Cruelty

Garvit Khanna – GST

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Let’s run…for the love of it!

Running enthusiast, Tarun Walecha talks about why runners would want to run the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon despite the smog warnings. 

As the month of November begins, the running community in Delhi NCR has always been anxious and excited for the last few years now, and the reason is Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) which is scheduled for third week. We all know what this event means and what it has done to citizens of Delhi, so much that we now actually have a sizable number of people to be called a running community. Circa 2011, when the first thought of running came to my mind, it was because of the ADHM. For many of us who started running that year or before would recall how it was the annual pilgrimage, running one half marathon in a year and basking in it till the next one came. Like everything else running grew and now one could lose count of number of running events that keep happening all year round …but ADHM still remains the most coveted and loved.

The air around us

Not only the running community but the choice of events grew, with an expanding society we have seen many environmental changes as well. Of course most of them haven’t been good as they are clear signs of mismanagement on our part and overburdening of our natural resources. Northern plains in the entire Indian Peninsula have recently been plagued with smog and pollution due to mindless urbanization, automobile and industrial waste and seasonal crop stubble burning. With over 3,00,000 sq km of area affected from Lahore to Varanasi, children in villages, farmers on the fields, workers on the streets are suffering far more than the urban population which still has the access to preventive means such as masks, air conditioners and purifiers.

Love for ADHM

And what do we choose to do, with a huge lobby of emerging activists, medical practitioners and even some reputed runners raising the red flag, posting FB status updates, appearing on media only to target one running event which ironically is conducted with utmost care and concern for the runners. While everyone has a right to their opinion, what has been worse is that we as runners are having to choose between the two, and with few of our runners being on the other side the choice has certainly not been easy. Not to forget the participation to the event is non-mandatory and voluntary, you can skip if choose to. Activism against an event rather than at the cause of chaos isn’t helping anyone other than lowering morale of folks who have been training for months. Have we somewhere misjudged our priorities? … Is our effort really pointed towards making this a better world? … Do we really intend to make a positive change or forget everything post November 19th…

For now, all we need to think of is the big day is here, this Sunday will see us all on the roads of Delhi, running with our heart on our sleeve …. Weather God has been kind and the skies seem to be opening up…with the air clearing up I hope the sane voices would be heard again…and running would be just for the love of it.



An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.


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Look who is running the ADHM 2017

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017 attracts elite runners from across the world. Nandini Reddy profiles six of the best runners at the event this year who you should definitely meet. 

The best marathon runners of our time will be at the ADHM this year. So if you want to meet the ones who inspire millions every year with their enviable timings and unbeatable endurance skills, then you should be at the ADHM start and finish line this year. I am profiling six of the best men and women runners who will be at the start line of the ADHM marathon this year.

Geoffrey Kirui

Geoffrey Kirui is a Kenyan long-distance runner who has run in cross-country races, track races and road marathons across the world. Kirui started his winning streak in 2011, when he won gold at the African Junior Athletics Championship in the 10,000m race. Kirui is the current reigning champion of the World Championships in marathon with a time of 2:08:27 hours. This Boston Marathon 2017 winner is the first Kenyan to win the race after a drought of many years. His specialties include 10000 m, 3000 m, 5000 m, Cross, Half Marathon, Marathon, and Cross team event.

Tamirat Tola

This Ethiopian long distance runner boasts of having the top six finishes in the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Tola made his half marathon debut in 2013 and made a quick climb to a  marathon debut with a time of 2:06:17 hours for fourth at the high-profile Dubai Marathon. Several good performances on the circuit in late 2015/early 2016 led to wins at the Cross Internacional de Itálica, Cross International de la Constitución, Boclassic and Great Ethiopian Run. The 26 year old runner won his first Olympic bronze in the 10,000 m race at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Tola broke the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2017 course record, clocking 2:04:11 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race,

Alex Korio

This year’s TCS Bangalore World 10Kwinner , Kenyan Alex Korio clocked a stunning time of 28:12 minutes. The Elite runner specializes in track and road running and has competed in several prestigious half marathon’s clocking in a career best time of 58:51 minutes this year at the Copenhagen Half Marathon. Korio is placed 7th in the world ranking for men’s road running and is a favourite at half marathon events.

Almaz Ayana

This Ethiopian born, long distance runner is a fan favourite and has made it a habit to break records. Ayana broke the 10,000 metres world record, set in 1993, while winning the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She ran the 10,000 m competitively for the first time at the June 2016 Ethiopian Olympic trials in Hengelo, Netherlands where she posted the fastest ever debut time of 30:07. Ayana also took home the gold in the World Championships 2017, for the 10,000m.

Worknesh Degefa

Degefa is an Ethiopian long distance runner who has won several half marathon’s worldwide. Her first win was the Yangzhou Jianzhen Half Marathon which she completed in 1:08:43 hours. Lisbon Half Marathon,  Gothenburgsvarvet and Prague Half Marathon are a few of her recent wins. Degefa debuted and won the prestigious Dubai marathon this year in the women’s race with a timing of 2:22:36 hours.

Paskalia Chepkorir

This Kenyan long distance runner is the most popular female runner in the half marathon circuit. Chepkorir’s debut into the world of running began in 2003 with her first silver win at the World Youth Championships in Athletics. Her half marathon career started in 2008 and she has competed and won in some of the most elite races across the world including the Berlin Half Marathon, Nairobi Half Marathon, Udine Half Marathon and the Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre. She is one of the top ten runners for 10K runs with a timing of 30:57 minutes. Her personal best in the half marathon has been 67:17 minutes.

These impressive elite runners set new benchmarks with their achievements every year. Get a chance to meet them when you run the ADHM this weekend.




An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.


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Gurubux Singh: An Olympian’s Tale

Capt. Seshadri talks about an Olympic gold medal winner, Gurubux Singh, who has been an inspiration for many with his positive attitude.

As the early morning sun peeps over the eastern horizon, it catches in its orange and purple rays the moving shadows and silhouettes of people against the green earth the open spaces. This is Kolkata, the city of joy.

One man, among the numerous walkers and runners, seeking their daily dose of physical salvation, stands tall. His upright gait and steady pace stands him out from among the rest. All of 82 years young, this former Olympic gold medallist and captain of the victorious hockey team of the 1960s sets an outstanding example for people over six decades younger to follow.

The Beginning

Born in pre-partition Peshawar, Gurbux Singh, son of an army officer, was a surprise recruit to hockey, having been Gurbux Singhweaned on badminton in his early teens, after the family moved to Patna. His hockey career commenced in Indore where he represented his college and then came to the fore in the nationals in Chennai where he represented what was then known as Madhya Bharat.

In 1964, Gurbux Singh found his moment of glory as part of the Indian hockey team that won Olympic gold in Tokyo. Subsequently, he was to be part of six Olympics: as player and captain between 1964 and 1976 and later as coach and selector and even as a television commentator at the Sydney Games in 2006. In a golden career spanning two decades, he had the fortune of associating with legends like Dhyan Chand, KD Singh Babu, Udham and Prithipal Singh. And of playing against the most formidable opponents in the world… Germany, Netherlands, England, Australia and of course, arch rivals Pakistan.

Those were days when the players received a pittance as allowance and even shoes and hockey sticks had to be bought by them. Foreign exchange was a whispered word. The federation did not even have money for medals and awards. There was no regular fitness routine or diet regimen. No doctors, no physios no masseurs. Most often, the players themselves acted out these variegated roles on one another, from their own experience.

Legends who inspire

For motivation, they sang songs on the team bus and in their hotel rooms. For diet, they ate what they thought was best for them. And for fitness, they ran. They ran to warm up, they ran while at play and they ran to cool down. Theygs1 ran because that was the only way they knew how to stay fit. And after running to warm up, they ran with their hockey sticks, on fields of clay and mud, dribbling and passing, stopping and scooping, and practicing scoring goals. They had little or no issues of injury, or problems of illness. And after a grueling routine of practice, they relaxed to songs on pocket transistors and took photographs on cameras with the old 72 frame rolls.

The story of legends like Gurbux Singh and his colleagues are the stuff of folklore. Or at least they ought to be. As an inspiration to the younger generation, Gurbux has this to say: “Play for your country, not for money and fame. These will unfailingly follow your success”.

“And run. Run for fitness, run for glory, run for life.”


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Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams

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The Worlds Toughest Races

These races are known as the one’s you need to run before you die. Nandini Reddy puts together the list of the what are considered to be the toughest races across the world.

Author Tobias Mews,  wrote a book detailing the 50 Races to Run Before you Die, where he put together some of the craziest marathons from across the world that have fascinated runners for years. That book gave rise to a whole generation of ultra runners. Here are a few of my picks from across the world, of races that people are pushing their limits to achieve.

*These races are listed in no particular order*

Three Peaks Race, United Kingdom

This race is only open to 1000 runners each year. It has tough qualification criteria and is very strict about who the allow to participate. It is one of the top races of the fell running calendar and you would be running Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent. The runner would climb 1600m during the course and there are stringent check points where they need to register to continue to the next leg.

For information visit: http://threepeaksrace.org.uk/

Sani Stagger Endurance Race, South Africa

This is an uphill marathon that has areas marked with rather interesting names such as “Haemorrhoid Hill” and “Suicide Bend”. The gradient is fiercely steep and the runners are required to reach the top and then head back down again. The views are considered to be one of the most stunning at the top and with a total ascent of 5300ft and distance of 26.2 miles, this race is a formidable one.

For information visit: http://www.sanistagger.co.za/

Otillo, Sweden

This race though on a flat terrain takes about 8 hours to finish for the fastest runners. Why? Because you need to complete 75 kms of running across the 26 islands of the Stockholm Archipelago and swim for 10 km as well. The twist in the whole race is that it is always run as a two person team and both members need to be within 5km of each other throughout the race. This race has only 120 team sports each year and is a perfect blend of strength, teamwork and stamina.

For more information visit: http://otilloswimrun.com/races/otillo

Ecotrail de Paris, France

With a near 50 miles distance and a 5000ft ascent this race really tests your endurance capacities. Most of the race will have you running in circles around Paris. The final leg of the race involves racing up the 328 steps of the Eiffel Tower to the first level. While it might sound rather simple compared to the hill runs, the race in itself can be quite exhausting without the final task of climbing stairs.

For more information visit: http://traildeparis.com/

Transvulcania, Canary Islands

This is an interesting race to try because you will be running up a volcano. The La Palma region of the Canary Islands is famous for its active volcanoes. This race takes runners around the Taburiente Crater and across two of the volcanic mountains. With an ascent height of nearly 16,000 ft, this race isn’t for everyone with nearly 40% of participants quitting mid way. But this race comes with its own bragging right for the finishers as it is one of the most prestigious mountain races in the world.

For more information visit: http://transvulcania.info/

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, France

The 103 mile race across western Europe’s highest mountain taking you across three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland. Today it is considered to be the toughest race in the world and hits elevation of 10,000 feet at several stretches. The race starts at Chamonix, France and the runners circle back to this point after a fantastic run across the mountains. It is considered an essential running experience for trail runners from across the world.

For more information: http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/page/1/the-event.html

Marathon des Sables, Morocco

This ultra run happen bang in the middle of the Sahara dessert. The distance is about 150 miles and is run over a period of 6 days. Does it sound too crazy? Well this race has been on since 1986 and every year sees an increase in participation and till today takes the top spot as one of the most famous marathons in the world.

For more information: http://www.marathondessables.com/

The Everest Marathon, Nepal

So someone thought it wasn’t enough of a challenge to climb to the Everest Base Camp so they decided to have a marathon. The participants are expected to be present in Nepal 3 weeks before the race for acclimatization and the race day involves running down from Everest Base Camp at 18,000 ft to Namche Bazaar at 11,000 ft. The route is all downhill with a few extremely steep sections and for a distance of 26.2 miles.

For more information visit: http://everestmarathon.com

Badwater 135, United States of America

The 135 mile Badwater race will take you through the Death Valley in California. The course starts at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest elevation in North America, and finishes at the end of the road on Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. The participants will ascend 14,600 ft and descend nearly 6,000 ft during the course of the race. The best time for this race in the recent years has been 21 hours.

For more information visit: http://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-135/

Iditrod Trail, Alaska, USA

When all other terrains are covered how could we miss snow. This annual invitational has participants, run, fat bike and ski across the 1,000 mile course. Since the time the race started in 2000, just a few dozen individuals have completed this challenging course. Even to qualify to participate in this race, participants have to finish a 350 mile qualifier event.

For more information visit: http://iditarodtrailinvitational.com/index.php

So did anything catch your fancy enough to see if you can give it a go?




An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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2006: A new Marathon odyssey in space

Capt. Seshadri Sreenivasan talks about how astronaut Sunita Williams trained for her marathon’s on earth and in space.

Every year, several hundred marathons are held on earth, commemorating the run of Pheidippides to Athens, bearing the news of the historic victory of the Greeks. This, however, is the story of a marathon that was run 354 miles up in space. It is a few years old but the feat still stands as new as of yesterday. Just over a decade ago, the world, and India in particular, celebrated the record breaking feats of an Indian origin lady from Gujarat, idolizing her and making her an icon for posterity. While lesser mortals struggle to walk long distances on land, she walked nonchalantly in space for 7 hours and 31 minutes non-stop, setting a record in the process. Cdr Sunita Williams, Navy Seal, helicopter pilot and astronaut, later Commander of the International Space Station, long distance swimmer, triathlete, marathon runner and achiever extraordinaire. As December approaches, the month in which she first boarded the International Space Station, we pay a special tribute to her grit and determination that marked her journey into space.

Early Start

As a child, Suni was an ardent swimmer, cycling to classes morning and evening, even in the harshest of New York winters. One day, at age 11, along with brother Jay, she suddenly decided to participate in the grueling Boston Marathon Swim, from Boston Light to the aquarium, a distance of 15 miles, braving huge waves and schools of jellyfish, finishing creditably for a chit of girl not even into her teens.

Space was the beginning of her glory years and brought her fame and a fan following from around the globe. But it was hard work all the time. Extra Vehicular Activity, the mundane technical term for spacewalking, was extremely taxing. The exercises to stay fit on the Space Station involved a mini triathlon comprising 25 minutes of cycling, 20 minutes or roughly 2.7 km of running and floating laps, akin to swimming in air, combined with lifting weights, a far cry from the training done on land.

Food for thought

Suni Williams (as she is commonly known) was in a peculiar position, sandwiched between a pure vegetarian father from Gujarat and a meat eating mother from Slovenia. Thus sprang her love for wasabi and an equal craving for sukhadi and pakoda, along with gulab jamun and jalebi. A true blend of Indian food and international spirit.

Her marathon debut was as a junior in high school, when she ran the Boston Marathon with no formal training except for running as a warm up before swimming. Running in old boy high top shoes, her feet were so sore at the halfway mark at Wellesley, that she kicked the shoes off and completed the rest of the race barefoot, completing in just over 5 hours. In later years, at the US Naval Academy, athletics director Ron Harris, himself a world class runner, was to put her through her running paces for future marathons.

The year 2006

Boston marthon in spaceOn December 28, 2006, wearing a Navy T shirt bearing the number 14,000, Cdr Suni Williams strapped herself to a painful harness on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station and ran the marathon in a grueling 4 hours 23 minutes and 10 seconds. Running at an average of 6 miles an hour, while the space station hurtled along at 5 miles per second, she ran the 42.2 miles while the spacecraft traveled an astonishing 121,600 km, almost thrice round the world.

Hers is a life of commitment, focus and discipline and should serve as an example for every athlete around the world. And all these marked by simplicity, humility and a love for mankind.


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Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams

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BMW Berlin Marathon

Pro Cam brings in the experience of International Marathon , talking about the Berlin Marathon in September 2017. 


The BMW, Berlin Marathon, held on the 24th of September 2017, had been billed as the clash of the titans… The elite start list comprised some of the best distance runners and boasted of names like the reigning Olympic champion Eliud Kpichoge, the current world record holder Dennis Kimmeto, triple Olympic track champion Kenenisa Bekele and the former World Record holder Wilson Kipsang with all 4 targeting the 02:02:57 record. Going by the Berlin Marathon’s reputation as being the course where records are broken and new champions are crowned, the race promised to be a stunner and did indeed! Continue Reading

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