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How Anubhav Karmakar went from being obese to become the fastest Indian at New York marathon

Anubhav Karmakar

Anubhav Karmakar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Anubhav crossed the finish line after running for two hours, 41 minutes and seven seconds

One. In rankings, it is the number that is most glorious, it is what everyone pursues, it is the holy grail. Some would tweak the rules of the ranking or add filters to it to see their names against the number — like a boy who would boast about being the topper among the other boys in class despite ranked behind 10 girls. Number one, especially in sports, is an obsession. For, it often validates greatness. Yet Bengaluru-based long-distance runner Anubhav Karmakar, 31, is not too excited about finishing first among the Indians at this year’s New York marathon. One is not the number he is happy about, it is 57.

When Anubhav crossed the finish line after running for two hours, 41 minutes and seven seconds on a sunny day (November 3) at Central Park, he was 237th of 53,519 runners who completed the marathon. In his age group, comprising 4,075 runners who are 30 to 34 years old, he was 57th.

“I kind of knew (that I would finish first among the Indians) before the race,” he says. The statement is not to be mistaken for arrogance. He “knew” because, in the previous world marathon major in Boston, he was the first Indian to finish despite exceeding the two-hour-45-minute mark. Based on the numbers, Anubhav was merely confident of his capability. But at the finish line, numbers were not on his mind, it was the contentment of finishing the race.

For, marathons are more about completion than the competition. Anubhav agrees with the legendary Ethiopian long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie, who said, “When you run a marathon, you run against the distance. Not against other runners and not against time.”

Anubhav does not “chase glory”, he believes in betterment. In the hare and tortoise race, he would “be the latter”. His attitude has to do with the reason he started running.

I cannot be worrying about what other people are doing. I have to see what my plans are and how I can execute it best

Anubhav was 25 kilograms heavier eight years ago. “I was at B-school. I drank and smoked a lot. I ate a lot of junk food. Zero physical activity.” When obesity became apparent, he decided to hit the gym. “But that did not work out for me. I did not have enough motivation to continue.” So, he started running.

Step-by-step, Anubhav progressed in his pursuit of fitness. He was part of a running community. Motivation in this community was contagious. He knew of some who ran marathons. It spurred him to take part in one.

But marathons, despite the crowd of runners, is an exercise in solitude. And, Anubhav has a stoic approach to it. During the race, he focuses inwards.

“I can only concentrate on what I am going to do. I cannot be worrying about what other people are doing. I have to see what my plans are and how I can execute it best.”

Despite meticulous planning and months of training, things can go wrong on race days. It did for Anubhav on the day of the New York marathon. He was targeting a sub-two-hour-40-minute finish. After about 15 kilometres, however, he had to take a loo break, which broke his running rhythm and disturbed his focus. “I knew that there is a plan and if I followed it, I could have achieved my goal. But sometimes, your body tells you that something is not all right. So, I took a conservative approach, where I had slowed down a bit and increased pace towards the latter stages of the race.”

Anubhav’s resting before training for his next big race: the Tata Mumbai Marathon slated for 19 January 2020.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 8:47:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/how-anubhav-karmakar-went-from-being-obese-to-become-the-fastest-indian-at-new-york-marathon/article30107471.ece

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