Kieren D'Souza - A Team Player
“Growing up I was always into team sports. However, in college, I had to opt for running. It wasn’t my first choice but once I started running there was no looking back.
Few months into that, I came across a news article about a 100km marathon. I then thought to myself ‘these are the distances we cover in vehicles. How exciting would it be if I’d cover it on foot!’. So, I got myself registered & started training for the big day.
Once I completed that run I fell in love with the sport all over again. Ultra-running left me implacable! I’d spend all my day reading about the sport. And that’s when I came across the Spartathlon – A 246km Ultra Marathon held annually in Greece (one of the hardest marathons in the entire world). That day, I told myself ‘I want to run this race at some point in my life’.
A few years later I completed a 161km race in Delhi & I got to know that I’d met the qualifying standards for Sparthathlon! I applied for the marathon, got selected & became the first Indian to participate in that race.
But, right before the ‘Get Set Go’ I had cold feet. The temperatures kept fluctuating as I ran uphill. I went from running in 40°C to 15°C in a single day. I could meet my mum only once during the marathon. To run without that cheering & support made it even arduous. But I couldn’t let it all hamper me. So, I kept running.
However, at 205km my leg gave me trouble. I got an inflammation in my ankle. I had to limp a lot during the last 42 km but I made it to the end with 2 hrs 35 min left for the cut-off! After crossing the finish line I was immediately put into a wheelchair, my leg was bleeding, I couldn’t walk for a week after that & I only resumed running 1 month after the race.
But none of that mattered. Completing that race had a different sense of high. I always thought that running was a lonely sport. However, crossing the finish line that day I knew – not only did I represent myself but a country with 1.3 billion people, & it wasn’t just a first for me but them as well.”