Chennaiite makes it big in African ‘Comrades Marathon’

Chennai: A resident of Lakshmi Nagar, Nanganallur Manikandan Sivagurunathan Narayanaswamy is not a regular techie. Beating the sedentary lifestyle, he is a marathon freak. What began with a personal feat, took him places; he won the bronze medal in Comrades Marathon held in South Africa recently clocking it in 10 hours and seven seconds and he did barefoot.

The ‘up run’, every year, is flagged off at Durban and ends Pietermaritzburg, covering a little over 87 km in total. However, the twist here is that the participant has to cross 25 mountains and the terrain is dynamic. The time bar was set at 10 hours.

In conversation with News Today, the IT employee shares about the accomplishment, interest in contesting in marathons and training regime.

“This is the first time I participated in an ultramarathon race and the general notion is that it is impossible to make a mark. I just decided to give it a shot,” Manikandan begins.

As an NCC student during his college days, Manikandan always ensured that he stays fit and took part in small-level marathons which later kindled him to take up the one that others fear.

As he made up his mind well in advance, he undertook intense training to finish the long-distance race within the stipulated time. “The training period spanned a little over five months; followed the guidelines and did minor altercations suiting my needs,” the 43-year-old man says.

Manikandan during the Comrades Marathon held in South Africa.

Adding more about it, “Since I was in Dubai during that time, there were a few more people who had registered for it. We got together and practised. The distance was gradually increased over time. However, we realised that we were running only on a flat terrain as against the marathon’s landscape. After a few months, we made it a point that we travel down to Pujara weekly twice as it has a few mountains. It helped us a lot and the practice was immensely helpful for me. Throughout the months, I ran for over 16 lakh km to finish the marathon.”

He also regularly practiced with the neighbourhood’s Bandit Runners club whenever he flew down to Chennai. Asked about the strategies, he says, “I decided to run at a normal pace for the first 50 km and speed it up if I had the stamina. After crossing 80 km, I took every second seriously and skipped the water stops that are given for every 3-km and increased the pace. I was keen to finish it in 10 hours and also predicted so. However, it just lapsed by seven seconds.”

Manikandan goes on to speak about how the terrian in field was. According to him, the landscape was challenging after 50-km mark. “Rubbles were found aplenty on the roads and uphill was tiring. To top them off, doing the challenge barefoot was a Herculean task.”

Making a note to people who presume it an impossible endeavour, he says, “Comrades marathon is easy to achieve if we do disciplined, structured training. Everything is possible.”

Wish Manikandan at [email protected]

Bhavani Prabhakar