Published: 02nd December 2017
Marathon Man: How this retired army man ran 50 marathons before turning 50
Through these runs, he has raised Rs 25 lakh rupees that will go towards the families of those who have lost their loved ones in war
Lt Col Sundaresan Renganathan turned 50 on November 20, a day before he celebrated another half-century- completing 50 marathons in 50 weeks. It's only been a week since that happened, but he's managed another marathon already - he calls it a "force of habit".
Renganathan started off as foot soldier in 1989 and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012, he has served in Kashmir and on the China Border. Most people would talk at length about their adventures in the army but Renganathan seems to enjoy talking about his post-retirement adventures much more.
However the Colonel wasn't always into marathons, he grew up as a very outdoorsy child but never participated in any athletics. Although like any other army man, Renganathan was always a man devoted to fitness, sports was not particularly on the list. It all started in in 2008, when Renganathan was on a call with his sister-in-law and she happened to mention the Mumbai Marathon, "It seemed so exciting and I remember thinking that I should participate in it once," Renganathan said.
Run for life: At the end of the 50 weeks, which he completed on November 19, a day before he turned 50, Renganthan had managed to raise 25 lakhs for families of martyrs
And he did - in 2009, he got posted to Mumbai so he decided it was a good time for him to participate in that year's marathon."It was a 21 km run, it was just wonderful. It was very exciting to run with over 10,000-15,000 people and I did pretty well. That was it, that was when I caught the marathon bug," he said.
After 2010, Renganathan began to run full-length marathons, over the years he has participated in Karnataka, Gujarat and other states but the highlight of his marathon adventures was the 89 kms run in South Africa from Pietermaritzburg to Duran - one of the toughest runs in the world. The run is supposed to take 12 hours but the army man managed to finish it in 11 hours.
Renganathan says that it is during these runs that the craziest ideas come to him, the 50 marathon- 50-week idea also came to him on one of these runs. "A year before I turned 50 I wondered what I could do differently. That's when I thought it would be interesting to run 50 marathons in 50 weeks," he said.
Then another idea struck him, why not run for a cause? So, Renganathan decided that he could raise funds for the families of martyrs and he called the initiative - Run for a soldier, Run with a soldier.
For the cause: Renganathan decided that he could raise funds for the families of martyrs and he called the initiative - Run for a soldier, Run with a soldier
So since December 11, 2016, Renganathan has run a marathon every Sunday. But a marathon organised every Sunday, that would have definitely been hard to find. Well, not for Renganathan, "I travelled across the country, wherever there was a marathon I would run. But some Sundays there weren't any marathons, so I could either run with my fellow runners in Mumbai or I would contact a runners group in the State and request them to run with me."
So every Friday, the Colonel would fly to the state, on Saturday he would register for the bib and Sunday, he would start the run nice and early. On these Saturdays, the Colonel would also visit various corporate companies in that particular city and give lectures, encouraging them to contribute towards martyr families.
And its paid off. At the end of the 50 weeks, which he completed on November 19, a day before he turned 50, Renganthan had managed to raise 25 lakhs for families of martyrs.
Inspiring youth: Most people would talk at length about their adventures in the army but Renganathan seems to enjoy talking about his post-retirement adventures much more
The whole adventure seems great but being away from family for almost an entire year is definitely not easy. "Yes, it wasn't easy. But my family knows soldiers are crazy and we do crazy things. So they full completely supported me and encouraged me to complete the feat," he said.
But the marathon adventure is nowhere close to ending, he said. They will be a continuing affair but Renganathan does have other things in store - like a book! He is compiling his experiences of the 50 marathons into a book. And he also hopes to continue raising funds for the families of martyred soldiers by giving motivational speeches in corporate offices.
So does his young daughter also share the same love for marathons? "Both my wife and my daughter are marathon runners. So is my extended family. We're a family of marathon runners and we absolutely love it!" he said with a bright smile.
Corporate companies interested in inviting Lt Col. Sundaresan Renganathan for motivational lectures can get int ouch with him through - email@example.com.