Ramesh Ponnuswami has inspired friends and family to put on their shoes and start running. He is confident that the upcoming Vodafone Coimbatore Marathon will get many others hooked. Vaibhav Shastry reports.

He is busy doing stretches and warming up after his morning run at Race Course. Ramesh Ponnuswami says he finds it hard to stay idle ever since running became a regular part of his life. Ramesh started jogging in 1999 as an alternative to squash for which he was finding it difficult to get partners during his frequent business trips.

“My job involves travelling all over the world, so playing a sport was turning out to be difficult and expensive. This is when I decided to switch to running, as I only need a good pair of shoes and good surfaces,” he says. His active involvement with running led him to start Coimbatore Runners, a voluntary running group along with two other dedicated runners in December 2011. Members of the running group also get together and participate in marathons across the country.

Ramesh has participated in nine full marathons and over 50 half marathons to date. He has special memories of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in 2008, where he braved high levels of humidity and cramps to hobble to the finish line in a timing of 6 hours and 18 minutes. “I was on drips and could hardly move a muscle. It was the sheer will to complete the race that somehow pulled me through,” he recalls.

In the same year, he completed the Brisbane marathon in a far more comfortable timing of 4 hours and 45 minutes.

In India, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon scores high for it’s enormous public participation. “This marathon always attracts the best runners from all over the world. To see the entire city turning up in large numbers and supporting the runners is a truly wonderful sight,” says Ramesh. He also lists the Auroville marathon for it’s lovely sights and the hilly terrains of the Hyderabad marathon as memorable. For it’s historical significance, the Athens Classic Marathon he ran in 2010 was a legendary experience, he says. According to folklore, a Greek messenger Pheidippides ran the distance to convey the news of the victory in the Battle of Marathon to Athens, after which he collapsed and died.

“The 2010 Athens run celebrated the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. I was nursing an injury but still ran the distance so I could be part of history,” he says proudly.

This passion for running has extended to his family as well. His wife Nithya is a regular runner and his 11 year-old son, Manu recently completed a 5 km run at Hyderabad.

“Running is a great way to explore new places you may not normally notice. When my work colleagues plan to meet for a lunch or coffee and decide on the location, I am already aware of it as I have passed through it on my morning run,” he says.

Ramesh now plans to participate in the Istanbul Marathon, which will cover both Asia and Europe. On his wish list is the Shahid Ultra Marathon, which covers the distance from Chennai to Mahabalipuram.

Coimbatore Runners train beginners on Saturdays at Race Course. To know more about that, email cberunners@gmail.com