Three runners. Two world majors.

Anubhav Karmakar, Bhumika Patel and Neville Bilimoria’s experiences.


Facing the challenge of Heartbreak Hill

Anubhav Karmakar

On being asked how he approaches a milestone race, Anubhav replies, "You should look to do a PR in every race".

This perfectionist attitude led him to set ambitious targets for one of the infamous world majors - Boston. The last world major that he ran was Berlin, which ended up being a historic day in the world of runners. Anubhav shared the same race with Eliud Kipchoge who ran a record breaking 2:01:39. For Anubhav, running Berlin at a PR of 2:59:40 was very much a personal achievement.

Not one to rest on past laurels, he decided he wanted to shave off 7 minutes of FM time overall going into the 12 week training bloc for Boston. The added challenge was having to keep up with the cycling races too, participating in bike races such as the Champion Sportive finale during this period.

He set himself a personal target range of 2:46:30 to 2:44:30, studied and researched the course from afar and strategized on handling the course and the legendary Heartbreak Hill.

Impressively, he didn't find the notorious Heartbreak Hill too daunting. However, he struggled through the last 4 km of the race feeling the fatigue but went really hard until the end to hit a PR of 2:45:05.

On race day, it began raining. Having to start the race with soaked shoes, water proof get-up and a fleece must have been fun. And having to de-layer on the way was also a part of the deal. However, a positive mindset truly helped him from getting bogged down.

Overall, Anubhav cherishes the crowd cheering which was phenomenal throughout the race. He also appreciated the organization of the aid stations and fantastic hydration volunteers.

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Running for causes

Neville Bilimoria

On completing the London Marathon in 3:56:48, Neville Bilimoria recounts his unique experience saying, "The crowd management was amazing, the entire city had come to support the participants. I enjoyed every kilometre witnessing the cheering crowd and also witnessing different costumes worn by the participants. I think London had the maximum number of runners wearing different costumes."

While Neville is an experienced marathoner, cyclist, former swimmer and rower, he is also a passionate philanthropist. He conducts and participates (as a runner and cyclist) in the Dawn to Dusk Marathon - a 12 hour event in Chennai. In 2018, this event raised over INR 45 lakhs for the Adyar Cancer Institute, in support of treatment for children affected by cancer.

Going back to his London marathon journey, when it came to strategy and training, he said that since he completed the Tokyo Marathon only in March, he didn’t pressurize himself to achieve a particular timing. His only goal was to run strong and finish it comfortably and was pleased with his run.

His advice to other Indian runners aspiring to run the world majors? “Along with running, one should also do strength training and cross-training such as cycling, rowing, swimming and also speed work, which will help to stay away from injury which is most important while you are training for a marathon."

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Leading the way at the Boston Marathon

Bhumika Patel

April 15th, was a first for Bhumika Patel. While she has run several marathons including a couple of world majors, it was a first time run for her as an international marathon guide runner for a visually-impaired athlete.

Just about recovering from her first ultra-marathon of 145 km only a few months ago, Bhumika took up her next challenge - running at the Boston Marathon as a guide for Erich Manser, a visually-impaired Iron Man world champion and a fellow IBM employee (based in the US, while Bhumika works for IBM in Bengaluru).

Bhumika and Erich came to know about each others’ running pursuits through IBM and corresponded online and over the phone, deciding to do the marathon together. They met in person for the first time in Boston, while picking up the race kits. Before running, Bhumika and Erich went over using the tether which calls for a lot of coordination, communication, trust and teamwork. Before the full marathon, they completed the Shakeout run together. Spending time with other athletes at the pre marathon brunch and dinner proved to be informative with advice on guide running and logistics being shared.

On race day, Bhumika and Erich ran the course, not only dealing with the unpredictable weather but also motivating each other when fatigue set in. Bhumika admires how prepared and mentally strong Erich was to deal with tough ascents and sudden rain. Bhumika tends to struggle with climbs and Erich helped her through this. When he started fatiguing at mile 23, it was her turn to push him through. She says overall there was great mutual running rhythm and they amped it up towards the finish line. It was quite special for them being cheered on by friends and family from India and she felt quite emotional with this life experience.

While running can often be a solitary activity, Bhumika chooses to make it one that includes the less fortunate and the visually impaired who might not otherwise be able to experience such achievements. It comes from a place of compassion and kindness.

As Erich says on the experience, "Kindness is a very powerful thing. Though we are from very different places, we will now be forever joined by kindness."