An athlete par excellence, Capt Seshadri catches up with Serod Batochir, the Mongolian elite runner at the TMM.
From the land of Genghis Khan, where horsemen are probably more likely to be seen than runners, an athlete comes all the way to India to participate in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019. In an exclusive chat with this potential champion, Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan finds out what drives him to do what he does best – run!
FM: Serod, firstly, let me welcome you warmly to our country. Is this your first marathon in Mumbai?
SB: Thank you. Actually, this is my first visit to India and I am looking forward keenly to compete on Sunday.
FM: Tell us about your best runs. Do you do only the marathons?
SB: My best timing was in 2018 when I ran 4 marathons. I managed 2:08:50 in Fukuoka. I also run the half marathon sometimes and my best finish has been 1:02:10 in 2016 in Maragume, also in Japan.
FM: When did you start running long distance and what motivated you to start?
SB: I was always fond of running and took it up for joy and also to stay fit. I started serious marathon running in 2002, but my chances for competing were very less.
FM: You mean you do not get sponsors in Mongolia?
SB: (shakes his head sadly) Unfortunately, no. Marathon running is not a popular sport in Mongolia. Still, sometimes I get support from some organizations, but much of the time, I spend from my own pocket. It can be costly and one cannot hope to win good prize money in every race, to cover expenses. I am lucky that Tata is looking after my hospitality and local travel.
FM: How did you come to know about the TMM and what induced you to participate?
SB: I have a manager who selects the races I have to run. He saw the news about this TMM and contacted the organisers. With the records of my previous timings, I was able to get an entry into the elite group and so here I am. (Smiles disarmingly).
FM: How many races have you run in your career so far?
SB: 57 marathons.
FM: That’s an unbelievable number.
SB: (modestly) Yes, especially with the poor support that I get. But I keep pushing myself to do better and now I am very close to the world class timings.
FM: What kind of diet do you take? Is there something special about Mongolian food?
SB: I eat a lot of meat, rice and flour. A lot of the meat there is beef, but horsemeat is also very popular. And delicious, apart from being very nutritious.
FM: So that is where your strength and stamina come from?
SB: (Nods and laughs) Possibly.
FM: How do you find the weather in Mumbai compared to your country?
SB: You simply cannot compare the two. Here in Mumbai it is 24 degrees and they say, maybe 21 degrees early in the morning when we are running. In Mongolia, it goes down to minus 30 degrees. But I have run in other countries and climates and have learnt to adapt.
FM: Thank you very much for your time Serod. And looking at your past performances, you must be a serious contender for the championship here. Looking forward to seeing you on the podium on Sunday.
SB: Thank you for your wishes. I hope so too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.