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Age is just a number

Among the many participants that will be a part of the 10th edition of the Goa River Marathon, ‘Run for Green Goa’ which will be held today, November 17, a group of senior citizens will also be sweating it out on the track


While retirement from a job or the completion of 60 years of age is what defines a senior citizen, the common perception held about the greying population is that they are frail, weak, and sickly. To prove them wrong, a few seniors are all set to participate in the 10th edition of the Goa River Marathon, organised by Vasco Sports Club.

Alongside the fit and the young, these elderly folk will run across the port town displaying a great amount of determination, youthfulness, and vigour.

“I literally graduated from the drawing room couch to a 10 kilometre run in 45 days. Imagine my shock when I finished first in my senior veteran women’s category race at the Goa River Marathon last year,” says 63-year-old Porvorim-based Leila Almeida. The retired banker, who is now a regular runner, is looking forward to what is going to be her second Goa River Marathon race where she will be participating in the 21-kilometre half-marathon.

Margao-based Madhav Talak, 64, who took up running ten years ago, will also be participating in the 21-kilometre half-marathon at the Goa River Marathon this year. “I started running after being inspired by the speech of PS Ramani on his 70th birthday. He spoke about the benefits of running and how it helps and since then I have been participating in several marathons and have been trying to promote it to people as it keeps one healthy,” he says. Besides describing the feeling of running as “amazing”, Talak goes on to say that it is the best way to keep oneself healthy and fit without straining the pocket. Running can be taken up at anytime and by anyone, he adds. “Now I have friends between ages 12 to 72 years because of my association with marathons. It truly is a wonderful feeling to be part of this marathon in Goa, and I certainly don’t feel like I am in my sixties,” he says.

For Mumbai-based Sreelaja Balakrishnan, the November 17 event will be her sixth Goa River Marathon. “It feels good to run and I feel healthier. It’s been nine years since I have started running at marathons. I began with the marathon in Satara and have been participating at the marathons in Goa and Mumbai regularly,” says the 65-year- old, who will be part of the 10-kilometre run. “It’s good to be fit and active. It’s a great feeling to be an inspiration to the younger ones,” she says.

Meanwhile, Pervin Batliwala, 65, has always been into fitness activities like yoga, swimming, etc. “When Savio D’Souza from Goa joined the Hindustan Unilever Limited, where I was working, to organise fitness programmes for the employees, my interest in fitness was renewed. And there has been no looking back,” she says. A regular at the Goa River Marathon, Batliwala adds: “I love it as it is a marathon-come-fun fest for us and we come in a big group from Mumbai. Fifty of us are travelling by train.”

Retired professor Jayapathi N, 73, is also a veteran in marathons, having been part of 17 so far. “I have also run the Melbourne Marathon where my son is settled,” says the Coimbotore-based fitness enthusiast. Revealing that he clocks an average of 9.4 minutes per kilometre, he adds: “I know I am slow but I don’t want to strain myself.” Coming to Goa for the first time to run the marathon, he says he also wants to see the beauty of Goa and see how different the marathon is here. “I jog five kilometres in the morning and three kilometres in the evening and I plan to run the marathan for as long as my legs permit me to do so. It’s not about the competition, but testing your own body,” he says, adding that Ramachandran Reddy who ran a marathon when 95-years-old is an inspiration to him.

And Almeida has some good advice for senior citizens who want to run. “My advice is to make a small start. Stick with the running and enjoy the daily experience. At my age, it maintains my strength, stamina, and helps me better understand my body and spirit,” she says.

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