Friday, 28th April 2017
Piyush's Fiftieth Marathon
Yes that is correct. Piyush Gudka will be running his 50th Marathon this April 2015 in London, after having run all over the world, and taught and inspired so many along the way. In all, he has inspired, motivated and trained nearly 200 people to run marathons over the last two decades. In total they have raised over half a million pounds in charity, and conquered their own personal barriers and limiting beliefs.
Growing up as a young boy in Mombasa, Kenya in the 1960’s, Piyush Gudka had never heard of the marathon. Had someone told him that it would involve running non-stop for 26.2 miles, he would have said 'no way'. I can never do that. There were no role models for him in the Indian community – in fact, Indians are not runners, as their Olympic performance shows.
But somehow, destiny was to prove otherwise. Migrating to London in 1972, a whole new world opened up to him, and after running his first marathon in 1994, Piyush got hooked to the concept of keeping fit and healthy and at the same time raising funds for good causes. What he was most impressed by was the whole sense of equality of the race, and how there were no class, race, prejudice, age or sex barriers – everyone, including the elite, ran as equal in one race. And this resonated with his island experience in Mombasa where unity and harmony prevailed, and his Jain faith actively propounded respect for all living beings through the philosophy of Ahimsa. Actually, Jain monks are marathon walkers – they walk for miles every day, barefoot. Piyush in the knowledge that monkhood isn't for him converted the walking to running – he was in a hurry!
And there was a deep instinct for collective endeavour, so in order to share his passion for running, he started to involve more people and train and run with them. With a 3:49 first marathon Piyush could have gone onto do sub 3:00 marathons, but his devotion to involving and guiding as many people as possible in this beautiful recreational activity was far greater. People from all walks of life and from 18 to 60 years old with a ratio of 66:34 (men:women) have trained with Piyush. Many had never imagined they could achieve such a feat, but all have gone onto completing at least one marathon. Marathons generally are not very diverse races, primarily because many cultures are not used to running long distances, but Piyush’s record has truly impressed the London Marathon organisers both in encouraging and training Asians to participate in the race as well as fundraising for very worthy causes. On average, he gives 300 - 400 hours of his time every year to advise, support and running with different people to help them realise their dreams and raise money at the same time. That is a huge sacrifice, given how busy and demanding modern life is. In total, his group has run over 31,500 miles in training so far – that is equivalent to going more than 1.25 around the whole planet.
From the serene island of Mombasa, Piyush's 50 marathons has taken him to 6 continents, 16 countries and covered all the famous and major marathons. Ask him about his experience of any big city marathon around the world and he will have a story to tell you. A truly global citizen, he has additionally run two ultra marathons - (1) the famous Comrades Marathon in South Africa (89km) and (2) the Laugavegur Ultra Trail Run in Iceland (55km), one of the toughest trail runs in the world. Meeting Piyush in person is itself a very uplifting experience, as he oozes humility and selflessness, and is always ready to give and to encourage. Diversity is in reality a win-win for all – Piyush has become a runner thanks to living in the UK, and the UK has benefited from his charity and training.
For Piyush, the most important thing to remember about marathon running is the satisfaction of:
Participating in the race
Enjoying the fantastic atmosphere
Accomplishing “mission impossible”
Collecting lots of money for charities
Endurance achievement of a lifetime
A Chartered Accountant by profession, Piyush very often says:
“A marathon is a race without race, colour, religion, sex, prejudice, nationality, hate,
where everyone starts as an equal, and everyone finishes as a winner.”
Piyush Gudka ran his own health and fitness charity (Fit 4 Nothing) for 6 years which propagated improvement of mind and body through exercise. He has now merged the operations with another worthy charity, One Cause whose motto is “Education is the answer to poverty” with a holistic approach to the education according to each individual’s ability and potential. In 2011, Piyush ran as Mahatma Gandhi! See photo below.
Asked where he gets his inspiration from, Piyush replies with one of Gandhi’s famous quotes:
Piyush dressed as Mahatma Gandhi at a London Marathon
“I claim to be no more than an average man with less than average abilities. I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith.”
Piyush Gudka as Mahatma Gandhi after completing the 2011 London Marathon!
Article added on 6th April 2015 at 6:45pm
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