Recollections of a Marathoner
A famous quote by Emil Zátopek, the Czech long-distance runner best known for winning three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, goes like this: «If you want to run, run a mile. However, if you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.» Anan Kiro of Metrohm India is experiencing this new life. He worked his way from couch to a 100K ultramarathon since the beginning of this year.
To introduce myself, I am Anan Kiro and I’ve been working with Metrohm India for the past six years in the Service Department. I come from a state called Jharkhand, which is located in eastern India, near Calcutta. Jharkhand literally means bushland, or the land of forests, and is known for its rich culture of different tribal communities. I am proud to belong to one of them.
But let’s come to the present: while working for Metrohm India, I found my passion for running. During my school and college days, while representing our football and hockey teams, I used to wonder how the athletes could run so fast and for such long distances. I never thought I would someday find an interesting in running, but it was triggered back in January of 2018.
It all started when one of my friends sent me an invitation to join a marathon event benefitting poor children. Initially I was excited to do something new and give my small contribution. Unfortunately it turned out that the 10K and 21K races were already fully booked, so I couldn’t be a part of this noble cause. There were remaining places for the full marathon, but I was not ready to run 42 kilometers. I looked up similar events and found that there are many trusts and organisations conducting charity races.
One of the organisations was conducting a marathon event on 7th January, 2018, in India’s megacity Mumbai. It was a big event that offered several options: 5, 10, 21 and 42K. I opted for 21K (13 miles). But my preparation was not up to the mark. I realized this during the race. First, I twisted my left ankle and it got worse when I got big blisters on my toes because I didn’t have good running shoes at the time.
All of this happened after just 4 or 5 kilometers. I still had a long way to go and wondered how I could make it. I found that the best way to keep gonig is to find many encouraging participants running with you. Finally, I made it. I completed the 21K in 02:15:54 at a pace of 06:29 minutes per kilometer. It made me believe in the saying that when you are truly ready for a thing, it makes its appearance before you. I can’t even begin to express my sense of achievement after this event.
The second race I participated in was something beyond a marathon: it was an ultramarathon. An ultramarathon is a race that exceeds the distance of a full marathon, i.e. 42K. This time I was a bit excited as I was going to compete for 50 kilometers (31 miles). The race was at Lonavala in the state of Maharashtra, situated at 624 meters (2047 feet) above sea level. The race started early in the morning at 2AM on 25th February, 2018 and I was shocked to see that 90% of the participants were professional runners.
I’ll never forget this event in my life. There was a gradual rise in the elevation starting at 621 meters and going up to 989 meters. While running this kind of race, there are many mental challenges and giving up sometimes crossed my mind. But somehow I completed the race in 07:31:33 hours. Once I had reached the finishing point, I really thought: «Well, that’s enough for this year—I’ll compete again next year!» But how can I give up my new found passion? My fixation and obsession with running was actually an exploration of my potential to attain more in life.
My third race was another 50K. This time I came prepared for the ultramarathon, which was at Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai. The race was on 8th July, 2018, which is monsoon season in India, and Matheran is known to get heavy rainfalls. So this time, I had to run in the rain. I dedicated this race to my one-year old son Arlen. I knew he wouldn’t understand what I was doing now, but once he grows old, he will understand what I mean is to never give up in life. I completed this race in 05:59:43 hours, and bagged rank #20 out of 175 participants.
Even while getting this post ready for publishing, I completed an ultramarathon in Pune—this time covering 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) in 13 hours and 20 minutes and secured the third place. It was an almost impossible test of the human body and spirit. I am very glad that I was able to finish it.
Life is meant to live and enjoy every moment of it. While working in Metrohm India, I’m still learning many things, I learned to drive my passion and love for running, which is still going strong. I do hope this is just the starting point for the next leap forward!