Dreaming of running overseas at some of the best marathons in the world, then Gauri Jayaram is the person to meet.
Gauri Jayaram spent her formative years travelling to some of the most obscure places on the map of India. Being the daughter of an IAF pilot, gave her the opportunity to do so and by the time she left her home at 17, she had seen and experienced a great deal. “It was indeed a life of travel, adventure, the outdoors and a lot of sports – I literally played every single sport you can imagine! But the importance of it all didn’t dawn upon me till much later. I really feel blessed to have had the chance to have lived that life and it’s quite easy to tell that I am a fauji brat”, she recalls.
While she did play many a sport during her mid-thirties, squash turned out to be her favourite. She found an equal competitor in Raghu (her brother-in-law) but unfortunately that sporting partnership was short-lived as he decided to become an entrepreneur and that left him with little time for the game. That’s when, in 2008, Gauri decided to take up running or to quote her, “take up the anytime, anywhere sport which can be as much or as little of a community sport as you want it to be!”. There was no looking back since.
For the joy of running.
Running has always been something that brought balance and joy to her life. She has never chased podiums or PB’s and she likes to call herself a “back of the pack” runner. For Gauri, the goal was always to be consistent. During the early years, she was able to make time for training and her training program involved 5-6 days of running and strength training at the gym. But, after she became an entrepreneur (in 2014), running a start-up, a home and raising two young girls was challenging, to say the least. “I have learned the hard way, that when you have a demanding life, the only way to train consistently is to go to bed early and get the training out of the way first thing in the morning. I do the best I can do given my situation and as long as I am happy with my effort, I am good. I don’t let others be the judge of my running performance…. J,” she says.
Since her younger days, the love of travel has always been inseparable from Gauri and after she took up running she started seeking races that will take her to new, exotic destinations. She adds by saying, “The lure of a new place is always high when I am looking at races!” Her favourite run so far to paraphrase her “has been the Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromso, Norway”. She went on a Norwegian holiday with her best friend (who is now her co-founder at Active Holiday Company), using the race as an excuse and loved the race for the scenic route and its small size. As a spectator, her favourite races are the London, New York, Boston, and Tokyo marathon. “I love travelling with Active Holiday Company’s running groups as much as I love running at different places”, says Gauri.
Not all those who wander are lost
Her love and passion for travel and the great outdoors have taken her to some of the most scenic and historic locations across the world. She has travelled to nearly 60 countries and she continues to travel to at least 3-6 new destinations each year.
Like with most travellers, she has many interesting tales to tell and some journeys she holds very close to her heart. She says, “My first international trip to Berlin in March 1994 without a winter coat was quite an adventure. I trekked up to the Everest Base Camp in 2012 returned to quit my corporate job. My husband and I went to Machu Picchu to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2010. My best friends and I travelled to Cambodia to celebrate 25 years of togetherness a few years ago. Different places and trips have had a different meaning to me and so it’s really hard to pick favourites”.
She says that her inspiration to travel is always the amazing people she meets and what she learns from them is something she never gets tired of. In 2017 she summitted Mount Toubkal (Morocco), the highest peak in North Africa with a friend. She recounts that trip by saying, “I met a young man who lives in the Sahara. Those days I had a lot of internal conflict on my younger daughters education, which I believed was doing no value addition in her life. He was supremely talented, spoke multiple languages, understood the ways of nature but he had never been to school and so, I asked him how he ‘learnt’ things and he said to me ‘The Sahara is my teacher!’ and that was such a profound lesson for me – that life in your personal context is the bigger teacher than any school will ever be”. Gauri has always believed that ’Travel is the Greatest Education” and she frequently takes off on trips with her daughters, the most recent one being a cycling tour of the Netherland.
To read the concluding part of this exciting journey, click here.