Apurba Das – Chasing Good Health

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Tuesday, 03 November 2015 1075 Views 0 Comments
Apurba Das – Chasing Good Health

By Varsha R. Megani

Apurba Das struggled with suicidal tendencies and a host of health problems, until he took to running

Running has become a way of life for 52-year-old Apurba Das. And he’s proud of it. He wears a wristband that reads “Eat. Sleep. Race.” But his cheery spirit and muscular, barrel-chested appearance belie a difficult past. Only a few years ago, Das was weighed down by chronic health conditions and struggled with suicidal tendencies.

Das suffered from acute diabetes, dangerously high cholesterol levels, and severe depression before he took to running in 2009. He was overweight and smoked over 20 cigarettes a day; many of which he would roll himself. He seemed to have given up on life, until he paid heed to his doctor’s advice and started walking. But after years of sedentary living, a simple stroll around his compound was enough to leave him breathless. “It was a horrible time,” Das revealed. But he wasn’t quick to give up. That leisurely stroll took a brisker turn; then a walk-jog routine followed, and before he knew it, he was clocking a distance of eight kilometers.

But Das was hungry for more. By then, it was clear to him that running gave him strength. It eased his symptoms, improved his chronic conditions and gave him something to look forward to. “I read about the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in the newspapers and decided to sign up for it,” he said, reminiscing his first attempt at a ‘real run’ back in 2010. “I went only three or four days before the race, to register for it. I didn’t know that the registrations close six months prior to the marathon,” he recalled, breaking into a sheepish grin.

Still Das did not give up. He wanted to run more than the eight kilometers he had been doing, to and from his house. So he did what most seasoned runners would think twice before taking up – he signed up for the 100-kilometer Greenathon challenge, which was then in its 2nd edition. Spanning two days, across Mumbai, the race involved a 60-kilometer run on the first day, followed by a 40-kilometer run the next day. “I didn’t think about it; I just signed up,” explained Apurba Das, attempting to make sense of his impulsiveness.

Of the 50 odd people who took part in the Greenathon, only five completed the race. Das was one of them. “Most of the runners did not expect me to come back the next day when they learnt that I was a complete novice,” he laughed. But Das showed up. He pushed through the pain, disassociated himself from the discomfort and completed the run. Such was his determination. In fact, Das credits his fortitude and mental strength to the nature of his work as a Central Railways employee. When he was younger, his work involved spending extended periods of time in the remote, dacoit-ridden forests of UP and Bihar, overlooking microwave transmission systems for better communication.

Today, Das runs a full marathon in three-and-half hours, putting most runners half his age to shame, and has weaned off all but one of his medicines. While his race day timings are impressive, what is even more impressive is that he doesn’t focus on the end result. When asked about his personal best half marathon timing, he looked puzzled. “I don’t really remember,” he said scratching the back of his shaved head. After much prodding he revealed, “I think I ran around 1.40 or so in Goa.”

It’s the journey that counts for Apurba Das, and that journey cannot be reduced to mere timings and numbers. He bravely converted a challenge in to an opportunity; miraculously overcame his flagging spirit and earned himself a new lease of life. Clearly, he’s discovered the real meaning of victory.

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