Rahul Verghese, is an avid marathoner, who loves challenges of mountainous proportion. The runner began his journey on a cold winter day in Chicago in 2000, and was hooked to distance running ever since.
He ran his first marathon in Chicago in 2001 and after which he chucked his corporate job to pursue his passion. Rahul founded Running & Living in Delhi, which over the years has helped several amateur and professional runners in the country providing a valuable support system. Rahul Verghese, after completing 49-career marathons, recently ran Tenzing Hillary Everest marathon. Sponsored by Puma, who have also named Rahul the running ambassador, the trail begins at Mt. Everest base camp at an altitude of 5364 meters and ends at Name Bazar 3446 meters. Rahul, who was in town, recently, spoke of his Himalayan experience. Excerpts.
Can you tell about the experience?
The Everest Marathon has been the most phenomenal running experience I have participated in. It combines many marathons in one – getting to the Base Camp in one piece and fit is an ordeal in itself as we battled tummy flu, the cold, altitude, cough and cold, headaches and more. Then we had to constantly juggle with weight to carry and stuff to send back. Trekking through three or more feet of snow and camping at Everest Base Camp, doing the run of a lifetime, trekking back for two days, an adventurous plane ride from Lukla airport – one of the most dangerous in the world, and ending with a rocking party back at Kathmandu those are some of the memories I will forever treasure.
How was your preparation?
Having now run 50 marathons my preparation was focused around re-building stamina, trimming weight, eating sensibly, and seeing how best to simulate the race location conditions. Then it is all about discipline and focus to make time for the training. Getting all the gear for different temperatures, and conditions and getting prepped for the altitude were add ons, as also getting a protein supplements for the carbohydrate-only diet that we were going to get for the 15 days before and during the marathon.
Can you tell us about Running & Living?
Running And Living is a marketing organisation with a passion for running. We have built 30 running properties across 11 States in the country for brands to engage with their early adopter target audience in a relevant and fun way. Our goal is to do 500 runs a year. We have so far done over 175 runs across the country — from the Himalaya to the Formula One track at the Buddh Circuit and more. We have 75 running groups, which we plan to take to 1,000 and get 200 million people running. Our goal is to get people to realize you can run anywhere, anytime of year and with anyone. You just need appropriate training.
What appeals to you about a marathon?
I started running to kill time during my first Chicago winter. I got hooked onto running after I did my first 30 minutes non-stop running on a treadmill a few months later decided to run the Chicago Marathon that year in 2001 as a challenge and got hooked onto long distance running. I found marathons a great way to mix both business travel and vacation with my passion, and I found a great amount of learning as I drew parallels with life, and started meeting thousands of people who had changed dramatically due to running. Running then became my business as I switched from my corporate career to my entrepreneurial life. Marathons get the best out of you. They challenge you, humble you, get you on a high. It also makes you confident, positive and optimistic.
Your future plans?
The next step is working on getting to run the Antarctic Ice Marathon, which would make it the seventh continent I would have run marathons on. That is an extremely challenging marathon. Minus 20 Celsius, strong icy winds, some elevation of around 5000 ft, one of the driest places in the world After that, I would liked to to focus back on speed and qualify the Boston Marathon . As long as it excites me, I will continue to run, and participate in marathons.