The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India

The Series: Part 2

The Wonderful Privilege of Running!

 How wonderful it is to run. Something so simple, the act of putting one foot in front of another, can bestow so much joy. Ask anyone who runs ! They feel only gratitude for all that they achieve, physically and mentally, as a runner.
Running seems to keep reminding them of the many amazing things our body can do and it helps them to appreciate their strength and challenge their limits to overcome weaknesses. Running is a privilege, and is still a niche among
athletes. Many still view it as a highly elusive sport. To help banish the hype behind something as basic as the
joy of running, brought about the concept for a series, on the incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India. Stories of strength and resilience and a show of daily perseverance in face of adversity. Runners are somehow the best people to have in one’s life too. The qualities that define their running also shine a light on the incredible personalities they themselves are in their personal lives too. These athletes are aware that there may be a day when
they won’t be able to continue pursuing this high endurance sport. Everyday, that they feel strong as a runner, they celebrate it !

As you read the stories that outline their running journey you will notice surprisingly consistent similarities in their spirit. Tales that reveal that these athletes may be reaping the benefits from running but their real strength as a
runner lies beyond sheer talent and consistent training. We connected with some of the Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India and asked them to share their running stories of passion and achievement to understand their “Why”. Sit back and enjoy this easy pace journey as we shed light into their journey and reveal the totally relatable
and inspiring top personality traits that these “Everyday Elite’ thrive on.

Everyday Elite: Anoop Sharma

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them”

They say a runner’s grit often comes down to steely inner strength and unshakeable faith. Let us start with the remarkable story of our “Everyday Elite” Anoop Sharma. A Mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur for whom
running is an integral part of life just like breathing or eating. An accomplished runner worth his mettle, he
understands very well that through hard work and focusing on compartmentalising one’s fears, all runners can learn
to remain in the moment. It is his core strength as a runner and one of the reasons why he is an irreplaceable member of his running group.

This Delhi based 51-year old athlete is a father of 2 and recalls how his better half, Kiran, who he calls his pillar of strength, has been his anchor through the various ups and downs of his fitness journey.

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Though it was not always this way for him. Throughout his younger days he played competitive football and kept fit but a subsequent shaky entry into adulthood into busy corporate work culture saw him fall into the unhealthy
trap of bad habits like most professionals at a young age. Popping pills for headaches and acidity and to cope with daily stress had become a norm. It was during such time that his brother a runner, cyclist and shuttler, brought his
attention to his health situation and suggested he start a routine for fitness.On his behest he started running 2-3 kms at his local park and started a regular fitness routine. It was at one such session at the local
park that he had a chance meeting with some dynamic members of the running group Dwarka Xpress runners. At that point he didn’t realise this routine of daily training with a group would be the catalyst that his health required . He soon discovered his innate ability to get into zone while working out and soon his confidence in his ability gained momentum as he started showing up for tough training sessions. This was during the same time when he confidently
signed up to take on the challenging and prestigious Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Now he looks back in amazement as to how seamlessly he completed the half marathon with an impressive debut time. His enduring passion to achieve
his goal, advice from a strong running group and a supportive family had made him an overnight champion within the running community. Since then there has been no looking back for this talented “Everyday Elite”


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He has shown that one can become a true champion with training and deliberate practice especially in the
fun company of one’s running buddies. He is a prime example of how by giving one’s best effort each and every time we invariably make our fitness goals achievable. He, of course, manages all of this by staying humble and without ever forgetting the big picture.

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With more that 150 half marathons, 8 full marathons and 4 ultras in his running kitty, there has been no looking back for this iconic “Everyday Elite”. He also got an opportunity to test his superior running mettle as he went on the
historic run from Kashmir to India Gate , August 2022, as a part of the “The Great India Run 2.o”. This delegation was a part of the national “Ghar Ghar Tiranga campaign”. With this herculean challenge, done and dusted, he easily
cemented his place amongst elite group of young and fast-rising ultra runners in India, showing that he is a natural leader equipped with laser-sharp focus . His inane ability to bring out the best in both himself and many around him in his running community makes him an admirable and a beloved athlete. Now, he feels, running for him, is synonymous with breathing itself.

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The pandemic did stir up some ups and downs in his life just like so many of us across the board but with his acute sense of paying it forward and friendship of his buddies within his running group, kept him grounded and strong
throughout the lockdown period. His training buddies are now are his go-to people for any support in his life. He swears by these friendships and says that training with them keeps him strong enough to navigate any tough situation that life would throw at him . “ Everyday elite ” runners toil tirelessly to pay it forward by getting as many people to benefit from running and a fit lifestyle. Anoop too pursues this high endurance sport while having a profound effect on the people around him as he exudes his effortless athletic candour in his daily runs. He is actively involved in supporting the running community in Delhi. During the covid period, he was the point person for any covid related emergency in his running group. Natural leaders like him have an ability to bring out the best in both themselves and those around them especially in time of crisis.

These “Everyday Elite” do not boast of a dramatically different genetic makeup but inspiring daily routines that show that endurance, power and agility are attained over a period of time, always silently backed with consistent effort and
basic human kindness. Anoop is a pioneer in his group for inspiring daily routines. His mantra for all newbie runners is to place importance on warm up and cool down exercises before any running workout sessions. This he feels is extremely important to remain injury free. He feels that the “beat yesterday“ mentality is not sustainable
for new runners and that following proven training schedules in running groups are the best for long term benefits for runners. He also advise against comparing oneself with other runners and advises to focus on one’s own customised training plan suggested by a trusted mentor. Even as he daily trains and tries to inspire as many people to take up running as a fitness lifestyle, he himself is working on a new and improved training plan for himself. For the year 2023 he has his eyes on the challenging Tata Mumbai Marathon and the most daunting Khardungla
Marathon . With his favourite tagline being #followyourpassion we are looking forward to follow his running journey well into year 2023.

Everyday Elite

Smita Dixit

‘Rest, Restart, Focus as many times as you have to , just don’t quit’

How wonderful it is to run ! We have heard many runners say this!

Our next everyday elite , an Ayurvedic doctor by profession says that everytime she heads out the door, no matter the
distance or the time, she is immensely grateful for the opportunity to put one foot in front of the other. It is an
opportunity to be closer to her fitness goals. Running daily for fitness since 2016, this 49 year old, mother of
two, feels fortunate that something so simple like running brings so much joy to her. She feels it to be a privilege and and she cherishes each and every step she takes during her daily workout.

Her fitness journey started in Mumbai where as a working mom she had countless sources of stress, leaving her barely with 30 minutes of her time of the day to finish a small walk. However, when a fatal fall from the staircase confined her to the bed for a good 4-5 months, she knew she had to follow an aggressive approach to get back to her
fit life. With the bones of her legs put into place by metallic plates and screws she was fast losing all confidence of leading a normal life ever again but her strong mind did not allow her to wallow in this fear for long.

Smita was not ready to give up any time soon and holding fort under this stressful time she pushed herself to try and walk daily. After 8 months of daily struggle to get moving despite being dependent on an attendant for every menial job she didn’t lose hope to move on her own. She recalls this time as the most mentally-challenging and tough time. With half the battle won she knew she had to strengthen her weak legs. Switching on to a mental state of total focus, she continued walking more, despite being slow. Regardless of the pain and struggle, she stayed focussed on getting
stronger, not just better. She slowly learnt to be tuned into to her fit state of mind each and every day. Soon she was jogging at her local park and even met some top-tier athletes who inspired her to not let her passion for getting fit, wane even a little bit. She got inspired to take her running to the next level and started training for marathons.

The need to succeed physically came from within her and in 6 months itself she had successfully completed a 10km run and within 10 months a half marathon. She soon was thriving under the satisfaction of finishing marathons and the challenge of training for more runs was like a gift, a gift of a new lease of life.

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With a her enduring passion and grit to lead a normal life she kept her routine of running. By 2017, when her support plates were removed from her legs, she was already on her way to attempt and finish 3 marathons, two 12 hr ultra runs, a stadium relay run and various 10km and 21km runs. A prime example of courage and resilience Smita’s run journey is nothing short of enviable. With a desire to become a top-tier runner she received a surprising bonus of
winning her first podium female 12.5km at the BNP ultra-run at Sanjay Gandhi national park in Mumbai in year 2018. With many prestigious wins like a silver podium in 10km at th IDBI federal Mumbai marathon(age category) and another silver podium at the GSC spirit of sports 2020 event in Mumbai, Smita is truly an iconic runner to
follow in the running community.

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Till date she is willing to be coachable and thrives on regular challenges she takes on with her running group.
She feels that consistency and training is the key for anyone to take up running as a sport. Her passion for running keeps her grounded and even a new city couldn’t stop from the path she had chosen. She soon joined a vibrant running group and continues an enviable running training routine. She trains with the group before she leaves for work and never misses her LSD runs on Sunday. She continues to compete and knows that as long as she keeps running she will never lack resilience to bounce back from any setback. She believes consistency is the key to
achieving any running goal and now has her eyes set on taking on the Tata Mumbai marathon in January and the Khardungla challenge in September in the year 2023

Everyday Elite

Sohan Sharma

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win”

As more a more people realise the fact that keeping physically fit can dramatically improve the quality of their life and make them live longer its safe to say that there are many takers for this ‘endorphin hit’ called running. They say, as runners, it is not about how far your legs can go, it is about how far your mind can take you. Although every runner starts their fitness journey for a variety of reasons, research clearly shows the reasons why people start running are vast and varied and most times as unique as the people themselves. Running as a sport has no remote
control. Each day requires an equal effort. After all plans fail, life gets in the way, things get hard but they all know the real secret is not giving up. Thats the magic pill. The never give up attitude. !

One such “Everyday Elite” is 52 year old Sohan Sharma, a legendary runner, who over a period of time has shown to the running community that being disciplined is the easiest way to stay motivated. This father of two grownup sons started running 5 years ago with his running group DXR . For Sohan, running is an obsession, an obsession to
do whatever it takes to be the best. His focussed concentration as he tackles any type of run has led him to achieve  many unbelievable milestones as a runner.

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His running buddies know that he has a tangible vision for all of his runs and is keen on growing his run trajectory with each year. In 2021 itself he ran an unbelievable consecutive 100 half marathons as a part of the virtual event
Hundred Days of Running. A much revered and irreplaceable member of his running group, he shows a vulnerability of taking on new challenges with his teammates, showing that one learns more from taking calculated risks.

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He is a proud daily runner and with his day starting at 5:45 am alongwith his morning gang. He is much respected
for his teamwork and consistency. Since the initial days of his joining the running group it was evident that he could
perform well under pressure and displayed an upward learning curve with each new run. He has a full time job, taking care of documentation of property at the Delhi registration authority, Janakpuri and believes that that after a
great run one can produce their best work and feel a heightened sense of concentration at work too. Many group members clamber to run the track with ‘Sohan sir ‘as they lovingly address him as he seems to show an effortless
way of working towards his running goals.

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Displaying humility and kindness with each of his runs, Sohan stands heads and shoulders above the league of runners in Delhi-NCR . He is a  crucial member of any important delegations to various marathons, The Ladakh
marathon, Morni Hill Marathon and various national level major runs of Delhi NCR like ADHM/ NDM/Super Sikh to name a few.

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Ultra running is his entire way of life now. He has championed as a strong runner as he believes that learning from failure or setbacks is all a part of setting goals and without it there is little room for evolving new abilities. It is
safe to say that as a runner he enjoys running outside his comfort zone, paving the path to some strong lasting
running habits. Using this ideology he approaches every new running challenge with great enthusiasm with his
running group. In 2023 too, his quest for perfection is going to make him a contender for a cracker of a performance at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023. From here he wishes continue to move forward towards his dream of qualifying for the Boston marathon.

Everyday Elite

D P S Rawat

“Passion is energy, Feel the power that comes from focussing on what excites you!”

To shed light on the mental dimension of an Everyday Elite we can safely say that their patience and perseverance is evident as we see them unapologetically show up for all level of athletic challenges. They have fine tuned their mind into compartmentalising their worries and aim focus on the task at hand. They would always be the ones to finish their cross lines having given their all. Such is the story of our next “Everyday Elite” D P S Rawat who believes that his love for running can be simply understood in one simple line “Life is a marathon run it”.

A retired ex-banker belonging to an army family started his running journey just as a hobby and proudly shares that running for sport is in his “Pahadi” blood. After retirement while his peers were taking on new work assignments he decided to be home to take care of his family, especially his wife. He found running to be that catalyst for him. He knew it was absolutely necessary to remain fit. Despite hardly finding spare time to run he knew that running gave him courage to make changes in his life and feel stronger. During his most vulnerable time, running helped him to
take a bit of control back in their own hands.

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Running 20 minutes a day might sound like a lot of exercise to some, or not much to others. However, it was clear to him that just about anyone can benefit from a daily 20 minute run. Such was the start of a wonderful journey of our
‘Everyday Elite’ D P S Rawat. In his initial days of running as he was a solo runner he went through the whole process of trial and error and ended up injuring himself in one such run. He was cautioned by the doctor against any running or exertion. Instead of losing hope, he like any ‘Everyday Elite’, developed a compulsive need to work on
their deficiencies and improve himself.

Determined to continue be fit he joined a wonderful running group and started regular runs. A chance suggestion, from a running group mentor Madan Godara, saw him sign up for a 5km in the senior citizen category at an upcoming marathon. He ended up returning home triumphantly with a podium
finish in the Hindustan marathon, his first glittering trophy!. This confidence led to more practice runs with this running group and he went on to many other running endeavours like successfully finishing the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2 hour 6 minutes. From here on he has become a firm believer in consistent training and his tag line became “life is marathon run it”.

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He gives all the credit of his running success and resilience to his buddies in his running group DXR. To his name he has an admirable 50+ podium finishes at various Delhi-NCR marathons in open and age category. As a runner he too faces various obstacles in his runs and many times his mind wants to give up. He has, however, always found strength in the sense of belonging in his running group. Emotional support from friends and family keeps him grounded as runner and he aspires to keep taking his performance to a higher level with each run.

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He feels that running is a complete exercise and with a mix of yoga and mobility drills he continues to feel fit and agile. On days he cannot complete his workout he feels as if he has missed out on something precious . This running
frenzy is now a full blown passion for this “everyday elite”. His goal for the next year is to keep competing in the big runs in Delhi-NCR region and keep beating his previous year’s timing. He has a clear vision for himself , he wishes to do some local runs and get competitive by acquiring atleast 12 podiums minimum. In the year 2023 he would be seen competing in the New Delhi Marathon in January and the acclaimed Super Sikh run in February.

The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India.
Madan Godara

Everyday Elite: Madan Godara is running to inspire as many to make it their lifestyle!

It is always a privilege to be able to bring the legendary voices from across India and their inspirational tales of grit and determination. In this series, we connected with some iconic runners from across the country. They generously took out time to share with us their inspirational tales of courage and achievement.

We kick off the series with the one and only Madan Godara aka Haryana Roadways. He headlines many marathon events as brand Ambassador and “Mentor de fitness”. Fondly known as respected Godara Sahab or Madan Sir, he is much loved by the young brigade of runners who have had the good fortune of being groomed by him over the years.

What makes Madan Godara’s story special is not just the myriad accolades and podiums that have come his way, but the man himself. A retired army man turned entrepreneur discovered running by chance when at his place of business an overweight colleague proudly showed him his new shiny marathon medal. It piqued his interest and he asked himself the question ”Why not me ?” What followed was something astonishing and unthinkable.He attempted his first 10km at the next marathon event in his city and finished it in record time of 48 minutes. With this run he clearly made a record of sorts and soon became a force to reckon within the Indian running scene. Ever since there has been no looking back for this running icon. With his no excuses attitude, he proves his mettle year after year.

Now he says that running is synonymous with living life itself and his daily mandatory minimum 5km run is like “manna from heaven”. You can catchup with him at various national events where he would be busy winning podiums with his running group, Dwarka Xpress runners or you would find him at 4:30am on the running track mentoring young group of local runners. With official 100 half marathons under his belt, 15 full marathons, 100km night runs and various podiums this 57 years old Ultra runner has many unbeatable records to his name.

He recounts, however, that it is only when he took on the unbelievable XXX trail run in 2018, did he come face to face with his biggest running challenge yet. Three days of incessant running in the urban forest called the Aravali Bio Diversity Park in Delhi involving back to back long runs daily was not just challenging physically but also a tough mind game. Conquering this run, which was a  mix of soft and hardsurface with gradient steep stretches, was by far the most gut-wrenching but surprisingly satisfying running experience for him. Over the course of the next 3 days he relentlessly smashed his daily goals and in his own characteristic style  and came out a jubilant overall winner of this event.

He believes that everyone should adopt running as a lifestyle to keep fit and alert throughout the day. He knows that while all might not be able attempt a 10km on their first run but they should at least start running slowly and gradually increase mileage with correct running form with some consistency. His suggestion to any novice runner is not to go for speed and pace initially and focus on gaining muscle strength to remain injury free as an athlete.

He is avidly looking forward to the race season in the year 2023 and is a huge advocator of discipline and setting morning routines. He is currently training to try and best his time at the New Delhi Marathon 2023. With this next milestone he would be closer to his dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

If you are ever in New Delhi you can be sure to catch him at the starting line of plenty of other races in the future.
You can also follow him on his inspirational Facebook account

While a New year offers possibility of 365 days stretching out in front of us , the end of the year especially the November month offers as much opportunity to fall into good habits. Hope these nuggets of inspiration coming to you in the month of November from our “Everyday Elite” series inspire you to finish the year on a high and achieve all your fitness goals.

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India
Monika Kadian

Everyday elites train for many years and embrace disciplined routines and habits to take control of their health and achieve their fitness goals. Our everyday elites are accomplishing amazing things despite challenges like pandemic and physical limitations. There is something unique about each runners story but the universal pride that comes from crossing the finish line is one common factors in most of their stories.

“Everyday Elite” Monika Kadian, made her mark as a ultramarathoner by fighting illness and injury”

Our running icon for this series Monika’s story is one of extreme grit and determination. Mother of two and an iconic long distance runner with one of the most popular running groups in New Delhi, she is nothing short of a powerhouse of resilience. In a span of just a few years she went from barely managing running a few rounds of her local park to tackling ultramarathons across the nation. Any race less that distance seems too short for her now.

She runs with the spectacular family-oriented running group in Dwarka where she has been groomed to take on long distance running as lifestyle. She had struggled a lot with severe depression and now believes that running is her life saver. Running has not only help her shed a significant amount of weight but also helped her gain a positive outlook on life. She has managed to remain lean and fit with consistent running and no longer requires medicines to cope with the myriad issues that affected her health prior to her running journey. She singlehandedly with her dedication and hard work, has worked towards achieving her goals to stay fit . It is Monika 2.0 all the way.

With her unstoppable spirit she powered on to come on top of the 100 days of running challenge 2020 (HDOR) womens’ category, DXR. She won by covering an impressive distance of a whopping 2100kms in 100 days and it would be safe to say that with this feat she pretty much blew away her competition. By running an average of 21kms daily she proved that if she puts her mind to it she can achieve anything. She remembers that challenge as an unforgettable moment of triumph and satisfaction. She gives the credit to her running routine, an essential tool that helped her reinvent herself.

Taking on the challenge of each Ultra-run as a test of mental toughness she has grown from strength to strength with each passing year.

She has shown that with dedication one can steer one’s destiny and achieve any goal. She has made her mark in the running community by running unbelievable distances at various Stadium runs and Ultra-running events. She is now an inspirational runner to follow in the world of women’s running and has been setting the bar high with each of her spectacular runs. Now armed with her ultra-running super powers, she is leaner and mentally alert and she is all about taking on the next challenge. She has proved to be true superstar of running and definitely a name that no one should forget especially those who saw her valiantly overcome her battle with depression. A humble and extremely hardworking runner she gives all the credit of her success to her vibrant running group DXR . When not competing at various Ultra runs she is seen actively taking time to pay forward the gift of running to mentor young aspiring runners .

This year too she is gearing up to smash her own personal record at the upcoming Stadium run in New Delhi. She is gearing up to challenge her fitness levels by pushing her pain threshold as she feels that it is the only way she can continue to grow as a runner. She views running as a meditative process and she can’t imagine her life without its myriad benefits. Her motto is to keep doing better each time that and is looking forward to always better her athletic performance. Either which way we know that she will continue writing her very special ultra-running story, each and every time. You can follow her tales of grit on this Facebook page


Next time you are thinking of skipping a run or miss a workout just keep these stories of grit and determination of these relentless ‘everyday elites” handy and ensure that your cup of motivation always keeps brimming to the hilt. These stories will surely get you excited to chase your own fitness goals.

“Everyday Elite”runners of India
Ritesh Udar

Each story of this series unfolds a different and unique running trajectory of an “Everyday Elite”. The readers get a VIP access to some awe-inspiring stories, an inside peek into some of  he biggest running challenges they have conquered and a very first look at their impressive upcoming year’s goals.

You may ask, why runners are so invested in the idea of challenging ourselves? Why do they do difficult things like long-distance running and embrace discomfort in order to grow? To find answers to these often asked questions we take a look at the sensational running journey of a young suave Pastry Chef from New Delhi. Having started running only 4 years ago, Ritesh Udar, our “Everyday elite” was trying to beat the monotony of his life and to increase his energy levels. His stint with the mad-mad world of ultra running, however, came during the covid lockdown period. The pandemic years seemed to have offered him a unique window of opportunity. With so much free time at his disposal Ritesh could not leave it at that. With running in his very DNA it wasn’t long before he started running long distance regularly. Months of disciplined training , deep determination, faith and encouragement from his running group saw him take his running trajectory to phenomenal heights.

Now running is an integral part of his life and the biggest takeaway for him is the importance of staying fit and active. He is a big advocate of being a part of any vibrant running groups and has completed unbelievable distances with his team mates. There has been no stopping him ever since and his iconic podium finishes at various long distance marathon events has earned him the name of the “golden boy” in his running group. He is determined to keep winning and he challenges himself to run longer distances each year and keeps relentlessly smashing his our personal records with each new run challenge.

He has run a total of 400 Half marathons, 15 full marathons , 15 ultra runs and a 24 hr stadium run till date. A truly superhuman feat, in such a short span of time, proving that he is an ultra marathoner extraordinaire, running unimaginable distances at unbelievable speeds.

He says however that the biggest achievement he felt was when he was asked to be a part to the dream team “The Great India Run” which ran continuously from Lal chowk, Kashmir to their final destination, Delhi. This run was organised to commemorate the occasion of the 75th Independece Day celebration in support of the “Har Ghar Tiranga campaign“ August 2022. Despite gruelling physical and psychological demands of this run, Ritesh powered on with his characteristic smile and triumphantly conquered each milestone with his teammates. The sheer magnitude of such a run would be a gut punch for any runner. Not for Ritesh. For him it was “pure ultra running”, an opportunity to again push his body beyond all limits and go beyond his pain barrier. The event went on to be an unmitigated success. This phenomenal performance has cemented his place among the top ultramarathoners of the country who thrive in challenging themselves to run further and longer.

Being the unstoppable elite runner that he is, instead of using the next few months for recovery we saw him head to Ladakh to take on the Khardungla Challenge (72km kms) which is the highest ultra marathon in the world. An event of this magnitude, set at a height of 17618 ft above sea level is an experience of a lifetime for any runner. Nothing is easy at this altitude let alone run a strong 72 km.

Unstoppable and on a high after achieving this once in a lifetime milestone he powered on to completed another awe-inspiring run, The Ladakh marathon(42kms), the very next day. Finishing two back to back tough ultra marathons in the most unbelievable time frames, surely leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind about Ritesh’s mental calibre as a legendary runner . His record breaking crazy attempts at unbelievable distances is a constant source of jaw dropping amazement and inspiration.

The numbers are stunning if you look at any marathon and his unbelievable finish times. Ritesh, of course, stays grounded and humble in his characteristic style and proudly basks in the attention that it brings him. As a runner he is determined to continue his running fervour and move forward boldly with confidence. Running is a time when he feels that there is magic in the air, his special time. He does not take his time for granted and keeps busy with training for his next running goal. He has set his goal is to try and Run a sub 3 hour full marathon in 2023. We are sure he would achieve his goal without blinking an eye considering his desire and willpower and deep love for the sport. You can follow this amazing everyday athlete on his Facebook page

We wanna make sure that our readers a just an inspirational story way from getting back on the track and towards a healthy lifestyle. So this hoping you manage to end the year on a high and do not let anything derail your life’s journey from the path of being fit and healthy.

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India
Nandan Barua

As most of you are aware, runners are a special lot of individuals. They persevere relentlessly, thrive on pain and are passionate about beating their personal best records with each every marathon event that they compete in. Their consistency is inspiring and their sheer determination to cross the finish line makes running look like an effortless sport . Each kilometre that they have covered daily is as important to them as breathing itself.

Everyday Elite Nandan Barua is running to live his best life yet!

Champion runner and father of two, Nandan Barua, wrote his own personal fitness success story and highlighted it with his determination to never give up under any circumstance. Running for him is not just about amazing marathon runs, but about leading a healthy life, improving his fitness and feeling good inside his skin. For him it is all about keep his morale high, pushing himself out of his comfort zone and eventually winning the most difficult fight, the fight against oneself.

He is a Samsung electronics professional working in the corporate field for the last 20 years. He started his incredible running journey not in very ideal circumstances. A freak accident had confined him to full bed rest for a painful 2 months in 2013. An accomplished athlete playing football and track since his early college years this debilitating injury made him dig deep about his next course of action. With broken knees and spirit weakening with each day he knew at that point in his life that the only way he could bounce back into a meaningful existence, mind and body, would be too push himself towards a new goal. He pinned his hopes on running a half marathon as soon as his doctor gives him a go ahead. His body slowly recovered and the pain started ceasing and soon he started preparing himself mentally first for the big challenge that he had planned for himself. With Airtel Half Marathon dreams in his mind he slowly started training and struggled to push past his weakness, a little bit everyday. With a stubborn self belief and sheer hardwork, he powered ahead closer to his goal. When the event date arrived he successfully ran his half marathon and achieved his goal and gained an unwavering new sense of confidence in his physical capabilities and mental calibre.

He has shown that one can steer life from weakness to strength . With this new strong sense of achievement he went on to take on running daily as a lifestyle and has been running ever since. He knows now that whenever he needs motivation he just needs to look inside himself. Despite the difficult and uncertain times we currently live in, especially post- pandemic, Nandan lives his life knowing that this discipline is his lifeline to be fit. Now he truly believes that running is his therapy and advocates disciple and commitment to make seemingly impossible tasks become a reality.

On weekdays you would see him pounding the streets with some envious legwork in the wee hours of morning where he manages a cool 5-6 kms run without fail. He also is quite fond of his weekend runs with his fellow running group members, chit-chat long slow distance runs as they call it, especially on Sundays.

He believes the mantra that in 30 days one can create a habit, and this good habit can change the subsequent 30 years of ones life . Disciple is key he says, “Keep your mind strong and keep growing.” His advice to aspiring runners is admire all fellow runners but not try to copy them blindly. He says, “.. each runner is unique and inspiring in their own way come what may, just don’t give up..”

With an envious and challenging goal of 2000 kms in year 2023 he is all set to test his tough at the Tata Mumbai marathon in January 2023. You can follow his inspirational journey on. His Facebook page

These tales of the “Everyday elite” will take you on a journey of accomplishment and growth, new friendships, self – determination and the feeling of an overwhelming sense of joy that they must have felt on achieving the ultimate goal, crossing the finish line. Watch this space for more such inspiring tales.

Run with Mind not body!

Dwarka Xpress Runners the phenomenon that is rocking the Indian running community

DXR: “Naam to suna hi Hoga”

A few weeks ago at the Berlin marathon 2022 we saw history in the making, an inspiring performance by the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge finishing his marathon in record breaking time 2:01:09 shaving a full 30 seconds of his own marathon world record. Kipchoge, the 26.2 km goat , the marathon legend, gave a byte saying he had a feeling that he would do something momentous that day and “Oh boy “did he do it in style!.

Meanwhile approximately 5800 kms away from Berlin on the amicable streets of Dwarka, New Delhi, India , is a trailblazing group of elite runners resonating a similar spirit shown by Kipchoge in more ways than one. Each having an effortless smooth running form and not an ounce of wasted energy. Each believing that they would conquer the distance that they have set out to run on any given day.

Daily at 5am minimum 10 elite runners run with relaxed ease for two hrs as a part of the Vibrant running group DXR Dwarka Xpress runners (a 300 strong running group, 500+members including families).

Headlining this remarkable group is a duo of two legendary runners who need no introduction within the Indian running fraternity. At the helm the magical joint leadership of Sanjay Panghal (also know as the poet runner & Panghal Xpress)and the unstoppable endurance legend Ajeet Yadav. Both display daily that distance running is an easy and effortless feat and that anyone can run.

With ‘Run with the mind’ purpose these full-time Delhi Police cops initially started this small group in 2017 to keep themselves healthy and get their families and friends into a fun healthy lifestyle.

Even the Pandemic couldn’t stop the meticulous training runs of this strong group. During the period of Covid lockdowns they kept its members active by online sessions of physical activities. Some even few ran half marathons indoor. They were unstoppable as group.

Post covid they advised all runners to take any hint of illness, as a serious warning and encourage all to take regular health checkups. They made changes in training to include yoga and breathing exercises in it alongwith the Marathon training sessions.

Flanked on either side by other elite runners like Madan Godara(Haryana express)Dr Satish Sangwan(who has run every possible high altitude run in India) MP Jain, a Ladakh marathon veteran and Captain Satender Sangwan, who along with his unstoppable running and amazing wins at the national para games keep the group leadership vibrant. Supporting them in all their runs is also a brigade of elite young runners who eagerly participate and finish with record breaking timings as various marathon events across the country.

Each member of the group at some point has been groomed to run better by one or more of these fantastic athletes. It is a kind of selfless mentoring not many groups can boast off. The DXR elite share their wealth of experience with its members in their signature DXR style of sense of humour and light with.

DXR is a family running group so they have runners from age of 5 years to 85 years. They all participate in various events and win trophies for the team. The groups key ideology to keep the whole family fit is evident in the family run events that are planned by the group every now and then. From celebrating festivals with group runs to just a potluck luck of everyones favourite dishes after the run, there are many main innovative run ideas and themes that they share to bring the whole community running together .Dhoti- kurta/saree Run on Valentine day. Gol gappe, chhole bhature etc runs without taking any fees. Churma run, Chai pe charcha run are some examples.

Even after 5 years it is still a humble self-supported group with humble aesthetics and the maximum turnout is seen by members during fun family events. It surely is a display of pomp and show or as they call it “Dhamaal”.

These talented runners have managed to in such a short span of just 5 years make this run family grow to more than 300 families(500+ members). What started as a basic fitness group has lately produced some legendary runners who are podiums finishers at almost every possible Indian marathon and many extreme high altitude challenging runs like the Khardungle 72 kms challenge.

Talking about excellence in the field of running it is worth a mention that more than 10 runners are in century club of Half Marathons(100x21kms till date), 24 hrs running, 12Hrs running challenge and of course Ultra running(42km+).They are loved and admired for making so many members believe that one can take on this high endurance sport to stay fit. They are also a hugely popular group and an overwhelming favourite icon at every race at Delhi- NCR.The mere presence of DXR at any Delhi NCR event is nothing short of a talented display of timeless performance.

Even if we look at individual performances , Group member Ajay Kumar took DXR literally to the highest peak in Russia on July 2021 as he trekked and conquered this highest peak of the caucecous mountains which stands at 5642 feet above sea level.

He proudly adorned the peak with the national Indian flag and the DXR team flag. Few special DXR members Manish Aggarwal and Monika Kadian lost weight and showed that one could get healthy by regular running and are proud of their new lean healthy lifestyle. They are now fitness icons of their own accord now and an inspiration to many in DXR. They showed that with consistency and discipline all can achieve goals.

A few passionate runners even have tried the impossible feat, like Sanjay Panghal and Shashi Kant Sahu have been keeping a non-stop running streak since the early days of the group formation, running every single day. The unique quality that makes the leadership and each member want to be the best version of themselves in every which way is a true hallmark of the value of this running group.

5 years of DXR only shows an upward graph which is also synonymous with various milestones and setting the bar high for the entire running community. Including winning trophies by group members at every event be it at low oxygen level terrain of Ladakh FM, ADHM, National level Stadium Runs, All incline high altitude challenge Abu Run, Ultra Shivalik run, The toughest Tuffman Mashobra marathon and annual participation by the group in Hundred days of running(HDOR) just to name a few.

Apart from its many achievements and accolades galore Sanjay Panghal has a vision not just for running community but for society as a whole to have as many people adopt at least an hour of running/exercises to be fit and save on medical expenses.

Additionally, Leading from the front with an acute sense of giving back , Sanjay and Ajeet also ensure regular group plogging runs.

All the runners take out time to plog the whole Dwarka running track and area and end the event with planting some tree saplings. Sanjay and Ajeet both feel its their mission to inspire as many people to get into fitness through running.They truly believe that through running DXR will help its member achieve what they are truly capable of.

As they celebrate their 5th year anniversary DXR is set to have a “Dhamaal” of a show on 23rd Oct 2022 at Dwarka New Delhi. On this momentous occasion Sanjay Panghal and Ajeet Yadav take on the role of Race Directors of the momentous event . They plan to organise a self-supported grand marathon event in New Delhi in characteristic DXR style at a very nominal cost for maximum participation. From goodies like iconic celebration tees , filled goodie bags, customised medals and trophies for all age category winners they aim to make running and winning accessible to all.

Running is an high endurance sport which helps us examine ourselves and the world around us. Why we seek out pain and try to break our pain barrier in the unending search for our stronger selves is a question that can be only answered by these courageous folks who run for sport. The passion and sometimes mad fervour that drive individuals especially seen in this running group DXR make us want to seek out the scared little individual inside each of us who have an immense ability to endure but just does not know it yet . One thing is for sure , this sport is definitely not for the faint hearted and those who have reached the other side seem to be enjoying a piece of paradise and seem to want to share that experience with everyone.

Lifting weights for stronger bones! Running to save my life!

It all started in April 2014! I had just taken up retirement from my most sought after job as a Television Producer job after a 17 year stint. Working hard and thriving in a work environment where women were groomed to taken on large responsibilities, I had grown leaps and bounds each year and had the good fortune to produce award winning documentaries and prime time shows. The core team I worked with comprised of some of finest individuals that the Indian Television industry could boast of. It would be safe to say that I was quite content with my busy professional shenanigans. However change is inevitable and there was a phase where I knew I wanted to go solo. Having taken stock of our family’s mortgage, we were seemingly comfortable when it came to savings. I too was quite content with my life’s trajectory, professionally, at this point in life. My life could easily be the envy of any middle class girl of my generation in India. Yes, I had powered through and achieved a lot and thrived in an environment of opportunity at life and at work. I knew now, I wanted nothing else other than pursue my passion, Sugarcraft, as a business. This soft retirement and the glamour of being my own boss in a new business propelled me toward every right step that needed to be taken to start my own business. This was also a time when my husband and myself were still navigating through the chaotic world that all new parents deal with, working couple with a toddler in tow.

As I spent the next few months finishing a Diploma in Cakes and Confectionary(my dream) I was all set to lead the life, once again, that many could have only can dream of, especially if you knew my peer group. An early retirement from the corporate work culture and pursuing a business which is one’s passion, Wedding cakes, I was on a roll with not much to complain about. I spent the subsequent months working on the promotion of my business and taking on small orders from friends and family. Also during this time, all my culinary stars seemed to align in my favour and somehow all my favourite and top notch Cake artists seemed to travelling through New Delhi teaching their Craft. Yes, stuff like this happens. Only if you wish it as much as I did. Considering myself the luckiest girl in the world I signed up for all of these international pastry and sugar craft certifications even while my small business continued to thrive side by side. I was finally working on handcrafted Sugar wedding cakes and (my forte) gravity defying show-stopping Chandelier cakes. My social media accounts were buzzing with queries and my peers in my cake decorating work were connecting with me for collaborations. This time was my “Say yes to everything” time and I managed to make a small niche for myself as an aspiring new cake decorator in New Delhi ready to work on showstopper cake orders

As time went I started taking on bigger and more challenging cake orders. Gravity defying beach cake, 100000 customer number cake, even a three tier chandelier cake as a promotion for my alumni culinary institute to name a few. It was during this time that for a 30kg 6 piece cake structure delivery I realised that maybe I had pushed myself too much physically. The mental and physical stress of the cake order and the logistics took its toll. I delivered the order and headed home know that this pain I felt was not just fatigue and that something was majorly amiss. Even while the client was msging me ecstatic about the spectacular cake and how much it was loved, I was fast heading to my orthopaedic specialist. I had a similar incident many years ago a years in 2006 after another such stressful day at work. The Delhi Chief Ministers interview after my 8 hour morning shift in the studio. I remember so clearly that day because of lack of resources my camera person and myself were left to our own accord to haul the lighting equipment for the shoot back and forth. That strain of incident had put me flat on my back for straight 2 weeks with acute L4 L5 pain and I was out of action for over a month. The last time it took every ounce of mental energy to get back to normal life and live a pain free work life. We as humans never learn I guess. This time the doctors visit showed that my previous condition had worsened with the birth of my child and I had transitioned into the early stages of osteoporosis called Oestpenia. This time again I was flat on my back for two weeks and was on calcium and haemoglobin supplements for 6 months. My workaholism, bad eating habits and lack of exercise had finally taken a toll on my now 42 year old body. A wakeup call that I can have high power job and big dreams but unless I have my health I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, let alone accomplish anything in life. The doctor had suggested to me to take supplements to replenish my system and mildly suggested I get active. I used to think that being busy meant being active and fit, clearly a mistake on my part. Did I ever think life would be like this for me. Not even in my wildest dreams. It was supposed to be smooth sailing and follow the usual trajectory after all I studied well, worked hard , acquired assets and had a lovely family. Life of course doesn’t always sync with one’s plan, I guess , at least for most of us.

As I headed back home from the doctor that day I remember seeing a new board of a CULT workout centre coming soon right opposite our place of residence. My husband suggested we both join the next week and try it out, our two bits as a family to stay active and fit. I was very apprehensive initially and usually felt totally out of place at this workout centre during the sessions. In two weeks somehow the first few classes gave me much relief and I started regularly reaching for the 6am class. The endorphins release helped me stay regular.

The daily routine was a mix of strength exercises with stretching and mobility and occasional lifting weights. I was feeling healthier that ever before. The 6ams continued for 3 months and I was already 4 kgs lighter and pain free. I even had a small gang of likeminded people who would workout with me at the class at 6am daily. In the fourth month of my continuous workouts my health checkup showed my calcium and haemoglobin parameters as normal and soon I became medicine free. I had lost a good 6 kgs in 6 months and felt fit as a horse. This time also saw me taking on new work responsibility and I joined with a culinary institute as a Chef Trainer where I continued for almost a year. Mentally I was buzzing ideas and super alert.

Soon I joined a group of runners. This was a popular, self supported group of runners called Dwarka Xpress runners(DXR) with two amazing Delhi cops at the helm. My run journey soon turned out to be the most fun roller coaster ride of my life. Regular running and every Sunday participating in marathons of various distances. When one starts investing in ones fitness and health then invariably we also meet like minded people who steer us closer towards our goals. Its when I joined the group I realised that we all shared the same passion to workout for minimum 1 hour daily and maintain a disease free life. I continued running as it helped me build my endurance level even more then just strength exercises at Cult. What followed was a routine workout schedule which looked like this, I used to run with my group of runners Dwarka Xpress runners at 5am and then head for a group strength class at 6am at Cult and then be home at 7am to send my daughter to school and by 9am I used to be on the Delhi metro at 9am , heading towards work as a Chef Trainer at my culinary institute. By the end of year of running with group regularly I had lost 12 kgs and was the fittest I had been my entire life at age 42

Hindustan marathon 2020

From not knowing how to do two pushups I am now running longer distances in marathons every month across the nation. It is a stark realisation that If I don’t challenge myself I won’t get stronger! People seem to be perplexed why I run so much and why I am so particular about my workouts. They don’t know what I know now, that my next day of healthy living depends on it! Literally this routine has saved me life. Now I have added so much value to the life I am living as I have health on my side.

I never have looked back and I try and never miss more than two days of exercise unless there is an an emergency. This was a new lease on life that I had received at age 42 and its my super power now.. Knowing how to take care of my health. I haven’t in 3 years visited the kind doctor who asked me to get active that doctor for an illness related visit( though I did bake an awesome showstopper cake for his daughter later). I know I may not have a such smooth sailing in another 10 years when my medical condition does catch up with me but till then I know there is no reason to live my best life yet.

Yes, there will be many times our well meaning plans would be waylaid and our life trajectory gets a little out of place. I too experienced a turning point with an unprecedented change of city with the family just before the pandemic hit in March 2020. In a new city and on an unclear lockdown, we as family continued coping with each crisis as it came our way. For me it was very clear, I will continue the one thing that has always worked for me, my workouts and running. I signed up for many marathon virtual events to keep myself fit and consistent. I became my own motivation, a solo runner. As the situation settled down, I continued this streak and started seeking out likeminded individuals in my city and people passionate about being fit, come what may. The result of this pursuit was the formation of a new fitness group in my new city in our very own own community. A few of us have embraced the daily 5ams and finish our run workouts well before our day even starts. The whole group meets regularly every weekend for group runs and dance workout sessions. Sometimes it just might be a family visit run /walk to a nearby lake or a city landmark but the key ideology of the group is to be continuously on the move. Some members call me their “superstar mentor” and “guru maa” but I know as a fact that formation of the group too works in accordance with own my goal to keep my future fit and healthy. This new role of paying it forward is maybe my own indirect way of showing gratitude to the running group where I was groomed to embrace running regularly as a lifestyle.. Call it what you may, It is hugely gratifying and is a big tick on my life’s mission.

Yes I am wiser now in the sense that I can see clearly the things that are out of my control and yes I accept those but I still wanna continue living my life with this optimistic mantra that I can really create a life where I can thrive and grow stronger, that I still have something in my control , my health. ‘Health is wealth’ is no longer just a cliche for me. I am a living proof of it. I have changed my life’s trajectory from hospital visits to now running marathons by making the biggest investment of all, Investing in myself and my health. Trust me when I say this! The only important question you need to ask ourself as you get older is , How are you going to invest in yourself in this coming year.?

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