Soldier Sandeep Runs A Marathon

 

©Great Strides 2008 Shelly Florence-Glover
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Sandeep Kakar

Running a Marathon Every 22 Years

Sandeep Kakar ran his first marathon in the Indian Military at age nineteen crossing the finish line carrying a radio on his back and the rifles of 5 teammates. But his second marathon finish also inspires.This is his story of two marathons 22-years apart.

As Sandeep tells it about his first race, "I was 19 and half years old and as fit as you can be. The race was called the Golden Belt and it was only for the second term cadets in the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, India."

Dehradun is a beautiful valley in the Himalayas, covered with lush forests and abundant rainfall. "I know it rained the night before (the marathon) as I spent the night in a trench and did not get much sleep." The cadets were part of 4-day field exercise living in camps and surviving on field rations. "Ending it with
a marathon seemed like a task only meant for crazy cadets," Sandeep said remembering the 70 degree day.

The race was as a team competition between the Academy's 8 cadet companies, all wearing full-battle gear with rifles, light machine guns, (LMG), radios, boots and backpacks.

"Within the academy, it was one of the key events of the term with huge bragging rights for the winner," Sandeep remembered. "The company's scored time was the time it took the slowest cadet in the company to finish. It reinforced team spirit you had to carry the slackers along."

"It becomes a natural team exercise," Sandeep said. By 10 miles the "slackers" became evident and started falling off the pace. Sandeep tried to help. He explained, "The LMG is very hard to carry. The only effective way is to carry it in your hand by its handle. Then the radio was like a slab of metal and you carried it on your back and it hit your back every step you took."

"Being the big guy, soon I was carrying a light machine gun in each hand and multiple rifles on my shoulders while trying to encourage others to continue running."

"All I remember now is that it was not much fun
and towards the end my legs had started cramping up, but there was no room for stopping. The last couple of miles were lined up with all the other cadets in the Academy and the officers, so we had to push along till the very end. We almost crawled to the finish line."

His unit didn't win, and Sandeep did not stay in the military long, but ventured out into the business world. His marathon experience stayed with him.

 

"I left running and any exercise for that matter, became a very low priority. I soon got caught up in the business world rat race and late night parties were more fun than going for a run."

Although training for a marathon takes a fit runner only 16-18 weeks to prepare, it can take years for potential runners to stop tripping over themselves. In 1998 Sandeep started his road back to marathoning.

"The thing I love about running is the holistic approach that leads to success," he said. "You not only have to train well, but also have to eat well and take care of your body."

"I gave up smoking in 1998 and then promptly gained 35 lbs. In the year 2000, I slowly got back into exercising, mostly walking and doing weights off and on. I fully returned to running in January of 2006. When I started running again, I did not even think in my wildest dreams that I could ever run another Marathon.

"I slowly started building up my mileage and finally ran the NYRR Scotland Run (10k) in April 2006. I ran much faster than I thought I could run, and I was hooked."

"I continued to run on my own for a few months and ran a few more races. I finally joined the New York Road Runner's running classes and it was the best thing I did to improve my running. The coaches are excellent. The stratification of the running groups based on your running abilities allows you to constantly keep on improving, and besides the fun, the group
atmosphere continually strengthens your motivation to keep running."

"I ran 3 half-marathons in 2006 and finally made up my mind to run the full-marathon. I ran the Long Island Marathon in May 2007. I finished within the allowed 6-hour time limit. It has still not sunk in that I actually finished a Marathon again and now I am so motivated to train harder and run more Marathons."

"I wish I had not given up on running before. before, but now there is no way I am going to wait another 22 years to run another Marathon. In fact, I am planning to run a Marathon in November of this year and many more after that." More on Sandeep

A Little More

Running Coach Shelly Glover has a master's degree in exercise physiology from Columbia University. She co-authored The Runner's Handbook and The Competitive Runnerís Handbook is a veteran road runner and marathoner. She also coaches The Greater New York Racing Team is available for private coaching. Coaching Services

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