By Amarjot Kaur/The Tribune
Fifty year-old retired Indian army officer, Lt Col Sundaresan Ranganathan, has successfully run 50 marathons, each of 42.2 km, in 50 weeks across 23 Indian states and union territories to collect money for the families of soldiers who had died in battle.
At Chandigarh’s Military Literature Festival Sundaresan looked back at the marathons as a journey, and not a race.
Having served in the Indian Army for 23 years, Sundaresan sought retirement in 2012 and pursued his passion for running which he had started in 2008.
“I have always loved running and have been preparing myself for marathons of the last eight years. It was only in May, a year ago, when I ran Comrades Ultra-Marathon in South Africa, covering a distance of 89 km over five mountains. I’d completed it in 11 hours 52 minutes,” he gushes with pride.
A journey that began on December 11, 2016, at Vasai Virar’s marathon, came a full circle on November 19, 2017, at the Indian Navy marathon in Mumbai, just a day before his 50 th. birthday.
“It was a setback. My father died in April and I was to leave for Guwahati the next day. Knowing that I wanted to complete ‘50 marathons in 50 weeks’ mission before I turned 50, my mother suggested that instead of going to Mumbai, I continue with my journey,” he said .
“In the 43rd week, I got viral flu and I had to skip two marathons. I later made up by running twice in two weeks,” he added.
For a cause
It was perhaps the cause for which Sundaresan was running that gave him the strength to carry on relentlessly.
His mission called ‘Run with a soldier, Run for a soldier’ was targeted at generating money for the families of martyrs.
“I tied up with Mumbai-based Global Foundation and generated more than Rs 27 Lakh, out of which one lakh each was given to 27 families. I have been posted in places like Poonch, Siachen Glacier, Doda, Srinagar, Nathu La etc. I have seen causalities. It’s a cause that, as an ex-Army person, I feel very strongly for,” he adds.
A qualified marathon trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine, Sundaresan, has run in places like Kargil, Shimla, Sikkim, Guwahati, Manipur, Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Ludhiana.
Presently, Sundaresan gives motivational lectures at corporate offices.
(The featured image at the top is that of Lt.Col (Rtd) Sundaresan Ranganathan)