October 4, 2015
“I was stopped by the organizers at the Thiruvananthapuram 42 Km Open Marathon in 2005. The doctors there said that I was cheating because I had denied that I had BP, in order to run in the marathon. I looked at them straight in their face and told them that I was cheating them because I had disguised myself as a 36-year-old to participate in the race when the age limit was 40. I was actually 63 then!”
D. Lakshmanan, the 75-year-old athlete from Tanjore, always grins when he recollects this incident. “I had even dyed my hair and moustache to participate in that marathon,” he says.
“They stopped me after I had completed 10 kilometres. I never returned to that particular marathon after that,” Lakshmanan, a regular at all the other marathons in the country, said. He was in Coimbatore to run at the Half Marathon in the third edition of the Coimbatore Marathon 2015. He completed the 21 Km run in 2 hours and 20 minutes, while people one-third his age gave up.
After retiring from the Military in 1991, Lakshmanan worked as the Director of Physical Education at Sri Ram Chettiar Higher Secondary School in Coimbatore for three years. Post-retirement, Lakshmanan began running the marathons.
“I had competed in various marathons including the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, the World 10 Km Open in Bengaluru, the Hyderabad 10 Km Open Marathon, Delhi International Marathon, and the Chennai Open,” he says. “I had also won a number of times, including the runner-up at the Delhi marathon in 2013, third runner-up in 2007, and runner-up in Bengaluru in 2013.”
Lakshmanan admits that his love for marathons had kept him away from his family on Pongal days for 14 years. “I even had to miss the funeral of my favourite pet dog as I was at a marathon during the event,” he opined.
The secret behind Lakshman’s fitness is his mindset and dedicated practice. “I run 28 kilometres everyday to prepare for the marathons,” he explains. Age sometimes did create problems for him. He was forced to withdraw from a Marathon in Delhi and was rushed to a hospital in Chennai.
“The doctors said that I can still compete in marathons. But I now I practice on river beds because hard surfaces hurt my knees. My fastest practice time was finishing the 21 Km in 2 hours and 10 minutes,” says the veteran athlete who has competed and won laurels for the state at the national-level Master Athlete contests.
A big inspiration to all the young athletes, Lakshmanan says that his sole aim is to keep running because marathons give him fighting spirit and a healthy life.
So, what next?
“I have to start practicing for the next marathon,” he quips.