Sexagenarian in Chennai starts group to promote fitness

Sampath Kumar Yakoji

Chennai: It is common to see people, especially the elderly, walking at parks or desolate stretches. However, one does not expect a 60-year-old to run actively.

The sexagenarian in context is Sampath Kumar Yakoji and he has formed a group called Five Banyan Tree Runners, which now has 40 active members.

“When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I started searching for ways to reverse it. I found out online that proper workout to our body for 90 days will help cure it. That is the reason I started running nine years ago,” started off Sampath, when asked about the beginning of his running regime.

“I persevered and by the end of the stipulated period, I had reversed diabetes. It is a feeling that can’t possibly be put into words.”

By the time Thangal Lake Park was constructed at Ambattur, two more people had joined him. “It was when the group grew that I decided to form a proper entity rather than leave it as it is. I thought it would encourage more people to run,” said Sampath.

Before diving deep into the details, the retired Southern Railways employee was asked why he chose running while most people of his age speak about walking as an arduous task. He replied,

Sampath Kumar leading the group from the front.

“Walking does not give benefits unless it is brisk walking. Otherwise, running is the way to go. People reminded me about knee problems and the like before I started running. But, I kept running nonetheless.”

Sampath was also keen to point out that their motto was ‘run for reversal’ when they started the group on 22 November last year. Now however, with runners from ages six to 72, the group indulges in various other events too.

“Every Sunday we do something for the society as a group. Be it providing buttermilk for passersby or free food, or doing social activities, we plan and execute it. It becomes easy when there are doctors and engineers alongside,” said the captain of the runners group.

Sundays are special not just because of the social work, but also because the team takes its 10 km run on that day. “It will be properly planned. Two members of our group will act as escorts and ride a motorcycle each. They will act as the head and tail and will have first-aid kits, refreshments and the like with them to help a runner in need,” said Sampath.

“The eldest member of our group, Ramar can clock the 10 km run in under an hour, 58 minutes to be precise,” he gleamed and added that Ramar will surely bag the prize in the veteran category at the marathan that is to be held tomorrow at Avadi.

The team has three core members including the captain. Two others are Gnanadesikan, the vice-captain and Anbazhagan who currently holds the post of treasurer. “I want people to be fit. It does not take much to run and there are added benefits to it too,” said Sampath Kumar, when asked about his aim. “But out future goal is towards improving mental fitness. We want to tell the world that for good to happen, we must have good thoughts in the first place,” declared Sampath.

Praveen Kumar S