In a record of sorts, Pemmanda R. Ganapathy, hailing from Kodagu, but currently living in San Francisco, United States, has perhaps become the first Indian to run all the major world marathons in a year.
In a statement e-mailed to www.www.coorgnews.in portal, he said he finished the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2015. Ganapathy is the son of the late Pemmanda Raja and M.M. Ponnamma, both teachers from Gonikoppal in Kodagu.
Interestingly, Ganapathy picked up running in 2012 as a way to lose weight having suffered from severe back pain for a few years with three herniated discs in his lower back. “What began, as a desperate measure to salvage my health eventually became my passion”, he added.
Ganapathy holds two engineering degrees and an MBA from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and works as a Technology Strategist.
He said: “After I picked up running, it was a natural progression to run a race. I signed up for a half marathon in October 2012 but I lost my father in an unfortunate accident a couple of days before the race. When I returned from India, I continued to run and it helped me emotionally too during those tough times. Eventually I signed up for a fairly easy full marathon and without having really trained much I did a decent time. That got me started.”
His New Year resolution in 2014 was to run all the majors marathons. He decided to register for the London Marathon in April. About 10 weeks into training, he fell sick and didn’t really recover until the two weeks before the marathon.
“I decided to go run it anyway. I still finished under four hours. It was an amazing experience, and I still think it was the crowds carried me through. This solidified my resolve and thought it would be cool to run them all in a year. It was not until NYC marathon I found it was not easy to do that since the Berlin, Chicago and NYC marathons are in a span of 5 weeks and all the travelling / jetlag etc. takes a toll on the body. But I had a blast. I never pushed myself fully either because staying injury free was most important for me. At the NYC marathon expo, I found that only about 5 other people in the world had run all the majors in a year, and then I really wanted to do it. I then went to India took a break for a month and signed up for Tokyo marathon (Feb 22nd) which was a pretty good race. I then was all eager for the Boston Marathon. Even though the weather was crappy, it was an out of the world experience.”
On his favourite marathon, Ganapathy says: “Although each of them is special in its own way, Boston is just special to me. The energy level there is just electric. You are a celebrity on that day there. Also, it will always hold a special place for me since it is all about the spirit of facing adversity and bouncing back from it.”
Commenting on the feat of Ganapathy, ace Indian athlete Arjun Devaiah stated that it was “Commendable” as running a marathon requires a lot of effort and hard work. And running all the major marathons in a single year is out of the ordinary, he added.