India’s grand old marathon man runs 84th race

July 21st, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 21 (IANS) Running his 84th long race, India’s grand old marathon man Ashis Roy has finished third in the 70-79 age group in Friendly Massey marathon in Massey, Ontario, with a time of six hours 14 minutes and 42 seconds. “It was really wonderful, the best organised race I have seen,” the oldest of the five participants in his group in the 32nd annual race in the picturesque small town of Massey told IANS on phone after the race Sunday. The event attracted 107 participants to the town with a population of 1,300.

Starting the race on a cool, cloud-covered morning with a few occasional drops of rain, Roy made a good start as he covered the two-loop 42.2 km picturesque route crossing the Spanish river four times. But as the cloudy morning gave way to bright sunshine and a hot humid day after a couple of hours, his pace slowed down.

Despite developing a blister on his left heel, Roy carried on and managed to shave off five and a half minutes from his last race June 21 in Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota where he returned a time of six hours 20 minutes and 11 seconds.

Roy had run the fifth Delaware Marathon in Wilmington at a much faster clip in six hours and three minutes in May. His timing in Duluth was just a minute less than the six hours and 21 minutes he returned in the second annual ING Georgia Marathon in Atlanta in March.

Roy, who figures in the Limca Book of Records for running eight marathons in a span of eight months in 2007, plans to compete in at least one more race this year.

Roy took to long distance running at the age of 50 after retiring from the Indian Air Force where he served as a cardiologist for 21 years. He has to date competed in marathons in 20 countries outside India.

A record holder in the above-55 category in 1987, he is the oldest active international sportsman of India at the age of 76. Five years back when he first ran in the 70 plus group in Norway, Roy finished the course in four hours and 18 minutes.

Roy, who competed in the International Veterans Marathon in Athens in 1986, has no plans to hang up his running shoes any time soon. Participating in four to five marathons every year, he hopes to notch 100 runs by the time he hits 80.

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