If you thought marathon running tests the human body to the fullest, think again. The Spartathlon, an annual run between Athens and Sparta in Greece, has a circuit which lasts for 246.6 km and is widely considered to be the world’s toughest race. Till date only 50% of the runners have successfully completed it, with India having little to no success.
However, Bengaluru’s Kieren Dsouza has changed all that today. In a run that lasted 33 hours, 3 minutes and 25 seconds, the 23-year-old, wearing Bib number 209, defied the odds to become the first ever Indian to finish it.
Kieran had been training for this race since 2012 and became the first Indian to qualify this year. Prior to this run, he was a designated Ultra Marathoner, who ran 160 km events. In fact, last year, he became the fastest Indian to run above 100 miles by winning the Salomon Bhatti Lakes Ultra Marathon. However, this was not always his profession of choice.
Before leaving for India, Kieren had spoken to Sportskeeda about the race. He said, “To be honest I didn’t know what marathon running was till college. I was always heavily into sport, but my choice was never running. I signed up for a half marathon and found myself to be decent and also able to push my body. Since then, I’ve just tried to be a better runner.”
The Nagpur-born runner uses the sport as a form of meditation. He added, “For me it’s more like breathing, one cannot run more than 100 km, if they are not as comfortable with it as living their everyday life. That’s always the target – to be comfortable with it. If I’m not running on the road, I’m questioning my own existence.”
Kieren had been in top form heading into the Spartathlon. Last year, he completed the 222 km La Ultra in Ladakh, again becoming the only Indian to do so. However, he believes that running is the easiest part of his sport.
He said, “Being honest, running is the easy bit; getting sponsors for my event is the tough part. Even during my college days, I had to keep my pocket money separate, but it seems like it’s not changed one bit. Hope it only gets better after Spartathlon.”
Kieren is scheduled to return to India in two days’ time, but he has already etched his name in India’s sporting history books.