The Mumbai Marathon has people coming from all walks of life to participate in the marathon. It’s also a highly anticipated event by a curious breed of human society: couples.
Couples who enrol in the marathon train themselves all through the year. They make time for work while beginning their days at 5 am in the morning. They run together on Sundays, and together ensure that each of them have the right food. So, how do they do it? How has running become an important part of their lives, strengthening their bonds and bringing them closer? A few couples who run the marathon together tell their story.
I met Dr Kumar and his wife, Hetal Doshi, at their clinic in Ghatkopar. Looking fresh and all pumped up for the SCMM already, this lovely couple was all the more happy to talk about participating in the marathon. Dr Doshi, a chest physician, calls ‘running’ his second wife. His partner in crime, Mrs Doshi, a physiotherapist, runs life’s marathon along with him – as his first wife. About five years ago, all in jest, this couple had filed in for a 21 km marathon. They have never looked back since.
Hetal, 42, says, “Our love affair with running started with the MM 2012 edition. We have always run the marathon in the same category as a couple. Since my husband is a pacer, I ran in his bus last year. But I lost him on the way, even though I finished the marathon with a personal best of 2.39 hours. This year too, I will be a part of his bus.” Here Dr Kumar sarcastically replies, “Let’s see whether she falls off on her own, or if I throw her off my bus!”
Training together and exercising together as a couple is a daily routine for them. Very often the couple is spotted either running along the Hiranandani slopes or at Nariman Point, prepping themselves for the marathon. From being hesitant to run alone at Ghatkopar in 2012 to overcoming her inhibitions – Mrs Hetal has come a long way, all thanks to her running partner, Dr Doshi. Support from children and constant encouragement from in-laws has kept them going through the course of time.
Some Thousand kilometres from Mumbai, in the historical city of Hyderabad, live Shailendra and Archana Bisht. “Our first run together was the Children’s Day run, which we ran with our daughter. Since then, we have been running continuously and taking part in a lot of marathons together. Running has brought a lot of method and structure to our daily life. We train on weekdays for about one and a half hours, and for about two to three hours on Sundays,” says 41-year-old Shailendra, who is a faculty member of a business school. Their training involves long distance run, short run, hill training, and so on. Once in a week, they also go for aerobics and body weight training. Shailendra and Archana will be running their second full- and half-marathon respectively in the MM this year.
Has running together changed their lives? “Running with Shailendra has helped me know him more, and this way, I get more time to talk to him as well,” says Archana, who runs a playschool back home. “As a couple, we love the Mumbai crowd. The people of Mumbai are extraordinary, and no city can match the kind of encouragement and support you get from crowd.”
For some, running is a passion that only increases in intensity. For others, it could even be a life-changing experience, as the experience of the Guptas testifies.
Fighting diabetes and asthma at the same time is not easy. But of all things, it was running that gave new life to Anurag Gupta, a private equity professional.
“It’s been eight years now of running marathons, whether it is the Mumbai Marathon, Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, or the TCS World 10k.” But how has running transformed their married life? “My husband and I have seen so many new parts of country together as part of marathon tourism. We complement each other in running just the way we have complemented each other in the half marathon – 21 years – of married life together so far,” says Malati Gupta.
“Malati underwent a knee injury in 2014, and emerged only stronger. That’s the kind of woman she is. The first thing she said after being discharged from the hospital was – when can I run again?” says Anurag.
For the Guptas, running is a big stress buster. It only brings them closer as a couple, and even as a family. In 2016 alone, the Gupta family ran in almost 66 marathons. From fighting medical issues to overcoming hurdles and becoming the face of Goa River Marathon has been an incredible journey for the two.
“The fun about running is to run together and not to run alone. And nobody better than your life partner to be a part of this run. There is no one better than your own life partner to motivate you and encourage you when you’re low and down,” says Anurag.
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