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Mumbai Marathon 2018

# Running with Rubik

### Singaporean Ranjith Vijayan plans to solve 450 Cubes during Mumbai Marathon

January 17, 2018 12:17 am | Updated 12:17 am IST

Ranjith Vijayan

Mumbai: Singapore-based Ranjith Vijayan (39) loved to run, but was finding it monotonous. To spice it up, he turned to his other passion: solving puzzles.

“I’d heard of runners who managed to juggle multiple balls in the air, or knit scarves while sprinting. I turned to the Rubik’s Cube,” says Mr. Vijayan, who will participate in the Tata Mumbai Marathon on January 21.

Mr. Vijayan will hit the streets of Mumbai in the hope of setting a record: He is aiming to solve 400-450cubes while running the Full Marathon barefoot. Mr. Vijayan will have two pacers running beside him who will scramble the cube, based on the Guinness Book of World Records requirements. New Zealander Blair Williamson holds the current record of solving 254 cubes in under five hours while running the Christchurch International Marathon on June 4, 2017.

A lover of puzzles, Mr. Vijayan says, “I took to the cube before I took up running (in 2015). I have a huge collection of cubes ranging from the classic 3x3, to the 4x4, right up to the 13x13. I also have the Pyraminx (a tetrahedron puzzle inspired by the Rubik’s Cube).”

With several hours clocked into this hobby, today he can solve a 3x3 in 15 seconds, much less than the time it takes the average person to colour-code just one side of the cube. In fact, it took the inventor of the cube, Erno Rubik — a Hungarian professor of architecture who developed the model as a way to teach three-dimensional geometry — a month to solve his very own puzzle. Mr. Vijayan admits though that it takes him “a little longer while on the run; anywhere from 25 to 30 seconds.”

His secret speed-cubing code: the popular Fridrich Method, also called the CFOP Method. The method involves a series of moves, clubbed into four essential steps: Cross (create a cross on one face); first two layers (tackle edges and corners of four faces – the first two bottom layers); orient last layer (the remaining layer); permute last layer. After years of practice with this complex algorithm, Mr. Vijayan puts his ability down to ‘muscle memory’. He confesses to have ‘no real athletic background’, but found that even though his body wasn’t tired, “sometimes I didn’t want to keep going; it was important to motivate my mind. Some people count trees, others listen to music. I merged my hobbies.”

His biggest challenge is that when you start out very early in the morning, the light is dim and “the orange and reds tend to look alike.” Running barefoot isn’t going to be easy either, given the state of Mumbai’s roads. “Solving the cube requires you to really concentrate. It’s hard then to keep track of the surface you are running on, and I hope the roads will be flat, and free of pebbles!” he says. Having participated in the Mumbai Marathon earlier, Mr. Vijayan is looking forward to the experience. “The support from the crowds was overwhelming. People were cheering us on; some stood there with arms outstretched handing out oranges, others had prepared a full breakfast for us. It was heartening to see such encouragement.”

His message for participants: “Get out there and run. The people of Mumbai will readily egg you on. You don’t need anything to take up the sport, not even a pair of shoes!” Although in this case, it seems a cube goes a long way.