Not many may have the privilege of competing in the original marathon course, which starts in the ancient and historic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens (Greece). To cap it all, for the Hyderabadi Dr Mareddy Narender Reddy (now settled in Germany), it was all the more fabulous experience having completed the marathon in 4 hours and 3 minutes and was the topper among the Indian participants!
And, 49-year-old Dr Narender, a pharmaceutical research scientist with Merck Germany, is back home, he has every reason to share his moments of joy and excitement of being part of what is arguably a marathon which is synonymous with the Olympic spirit itself as it was the same course in which the 1896 Olympics competitors vied for honours.
How was the whole experience?
It was a phenomenal experience, and nothing more enriching than participating in and finishing the historic Athens Marathon.
The Athens Marathon is recognized as the original marathon course and it’s the same course used since the 1896 Olympics. It was from the battlefield town of Marathon and ended at the historic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
How many Indians were there and from Telangana?
As per the Athens Marathon 2023 results published on their website, I found that there were a total of 11 participants from India. There is no mention of State-wise entries from India.
I’m happy and honoured when I saw that I’m in first place among the participants from India across all age categories with 4 hours and 3 minutes of net finish time.
It was your first, and if so what was the biggest challenge there?
It’s my fifth full Marathon. I completed the Hyderabad Marathon in 2018, OC Marathon USA 2019, the Mumbai Marathon in 2020, and the recent one being the Berlin Marathon in Sep 2023.
In the Athens Marathon, the biggest challenge was the continuous climbs from 18 to 32 km and overall 340 meters of total elevation, the hot weather after 20km added in further draining the energy.
How did you make it to the event?
It was a dream for me to participate in this authentic marathon. I had been training with the Adidas Runners Frankfurt community for close to two years in trail runs and road runs to keep me physically fit and active. My recent timing of sub-4 hour Berlin Marathon finish had won me along with others to participate in the Athens Marathon 2023.
What has been the biggest lesson or gain from the whole experience?
The biggest lesson is to get proper sleep and rest before the race days, and the biggest gain is learning and sharing from the experienced running fraternity who come here across the world.
What have been your other major achievements in the recent past?
Over the past year, finished the BMW Berlin Marathon 2023 with a personal best time of 3:56:00, and Frankfurt 10km PB of 46 minutes to name a few.
Your favourite pastime? Hobby? How long do you train daily, and where and what is the diet you follow?
I have been into endurance sports since 2017, competing in long-distance cycling, finishing six times as Super Randonneur with Hyderabad Randonneurs, (long-distance cycling) and participated in PBP and LEL. I also won gold in the Telangana state masters category in February 2021, and also finished first in the local cycling events of HBC and CYKUL in Hyderabad between 2018 and 2019.
After relocating to Germany with family in 2021, the winter is longer and extremely cold with the short days. To beat the cold and weather depression, I took running more seriously and started training with local running and cycling communities. I train and participate in cycling during the long summer days and running in the winter on short days.
I train three times a week for 16 weeks before the marathon. I eat a balanced diet required as per the mileage and races.
Hope to keep enjoying and winning laurels too.
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