Hyderabad: Stories of people riding bikes for long distances are something we hear often, but Sandeep Raj is a Hyderabadi who runs long distances. Really long ones.
In March this year, he, along with a team of three women, representing Pinkathon, ran from Vijayawada to Hyderabad, covering a staggering 280 km in five days.
For Sandeep, running is something that he got introduced to just a few years ago. “My work involves travelling and I happened to be in Mumbai during the Mumbai Marathon in 2011. I couldn’t get out of the hotel because the road was blocked and that was when I decided I’ll start running. Later that year, the Hyderabad Marathon took place for the first time and I did my first half marathon then.”
Meeting Arun Bharadwaj, a well-known ultramarathon runner, made Sandeep want to do city to city runs and around then, he got in touch with Milind Soman, who is one of the founders of Pinkathon.
“I got in touch with Milind around 2014 and it was then that I decided to be a part of Pinkathon. I grew up surrounded by powerful women and I felt running is something that gives women a massive sense of empowerment, as it involves pushing physical boundaries. That’s how I started being a part of it. And with the Pinkathon on October 21, I aim to initiate more programmes under that this year,” said the real estate consultant.
His first city to city run was Bengaluru to Chennai, where he covered 350 km in just six days. After that, Sandeep did several other long runs_ Jaipur to Delhi, Goa to Gokarna, Una to Dharamshala and more. Overall, the 36-year-old runner has covered 1,300 km in his city to city runs.
According to Sandeep, proper training is all it takes to achieve such things. “When you train for it, your focus shifts and you only want to achieve the goal. For instance, when we were training for the Vijayawada to Hyderabad run, we ran every weekend from 9 am to 6 pm and we ran at different places in the city, to replicate different highway conditions. So with all the preparation in, it becomes really easy to achieve it,” said Sandeep.
An interesting aspect about Sandeep is that he prefers running barefoot to using athletic shoes. “Barefoot running is better because this way, one can feel the body really well. Feet, calves, hamstrings, everything becomes much stronger. I do use sandals when I do city to city runs as the highway tends to get very hot during the day but I prefer running barefoot.”
Sandeep is now planning to go international, with a run from Colombo to Kandy in Sri Lanka later this year.