Interview With 72-year old full marathoner Jugal Rathi

72 year old retired Chartered Accountant Jugal Rathi is well known among the running community for his boundless energy and enthusiasm. Every year on his birthday, he does a famous run where he runs as many rounds of a 450m track as his current age, the latest one being 72 rounds when he entered his 72nd year.

He is an avid gymmer, biker and a runner, but had to miss long distance running events due to injury issues in the last two years. However, he is back with a bang, having completed this year’s Tata Mumbai Full Marathon in 5:19, an enviable time for many runners half his age.

Coach Atul Godbole, who helped him train and get ready for the big race these past few months, talks to him about running, training, life and more!

Atul Godbole (AG): How does it feel to complete a full marathon after missing it out last year?

Jugal Rathi (JR): I’m feeling great sense of accomplishment, particularly after missing the full marathon in 2018 & 2019.


AG: For what reason did you miss TMM (Tata Mumbai Marathon) full last year?

JR: I have completed the full at TMM  in the years 2013, 14, 15, 16 & 2017. My personal best was 4 years ago in 2016 in 5:01. However 2017 was killing. I dragged last 12 km with unbearable piercing knee pain. May be the pain must have persisted from start line, which was ignored.

In Sept 2017, I was diagnosed as Osteoarthritis. The doctor advised me to take up more on cycling and avoid running almost totally. Hence, even after a confirmed registration, I surrendered my bib for 2018 and restricted myself to a half marathon at TMM 2019.


AG: What changes did you do this year that enabled you to complete the full this year.

Last year, I did a 3 month nature cure treatment from March to May 2018. My knee pain was very patiently and systematically addressed and after 2 months I was allowed to hit the ground for as low as 1km and gradually increased along with exercises, treatment and natural positive diet.

With increased confidence by training 10 k,15 k in next 3-4 months,l dared to register for Half Marathon at TMM 2019 and could complete in 2:21hrs.

This further boosted confidence to attempt a full marathon in 2020 and immediately I hastened to register in the first few days as soon as it opened. I did it intentionally to make a forced self commitment and then, no option but to fall in line.

Superficially I was posing as if it’s easy walk through for me, but internally lot of anxiety and many up-downs in confidence level, even at times, losing steam, sleepless nights.

My inner voice was pushing me ‘No Going Back’; come what may, but full marathon at TMM 2020 is a must.

Meanwhile a thought was lingering in mind for 4-5 years to take up serious and structured training under some coach, experienced with right track record. Incidentally, I read a post on some running group about experience sharing and interactions with Comrades ultra-marathon runners, organised by Team Motiv8. I attended that. Particularly how ‘the structured training, the group workouts, the strategy planning, observations, comments and counseling by Coach Atul Godbole helped to find the weak areas and improve etc, how it has helped a lot of runners in successfully completing comrades and also get a PB (personal best) time for many. That interested me. This helped me to clear ambiguity and execute decision to train under a coach appropriate to me. And that is how I decided to work with Atul Godbole/Motiv8

Among other things, Motiv8 has helped me a lot in training well, consistently and strong to complete the full marathon this year 2020. I was never so disciplined on my own earlier.

One more positive change just happened in last few days to TMM, my earlier gym trainer Vikas offered full route support and pacing, and assured to take me to finish line smoothly. Knowing his capacity and commitment,I was fully relaxed from anxiety of traumatic memory of 2017 full marathon. He made it happen for me, at the cost of sacrificing his pace and target of sub 4:30hrs.

AG: You give a run for their money to runners half your age. What makes you tick?

JR: There is an army of very talented, energetic, motivated, well trained youth of whatever age they are. They keep excelling. Really no comparison as to half the age or less or more.

May be, more the age more the experience to handle obstacles, failures, deal with people and of course overwhelming appreciation by hundreds of runners and the society at large also keeps me going, age notwithstanding.

Success begets success, I preserve happy moments of each marathon run in the form of photo album on FB and keep revisiting.


AG: All runners would give anything to be able to just run, let alone run a full marathon, at your age. What advise would you give to runners so that they can ensure longevity of their running.

JR: One needs to take up a comprehensive holistic life style, not only focusing on running. This will only ensure longevity of running, and running even a full marathon even at advanced age. Life is celebration; enjoy life, enjoy running.


AG: When did you first take up running?

JR: I started in 2005 casually. 2007 was when I started a bit more sincere running.


AG: I am asking you to go down the memory lane and tell us were you active during your school, college days or in your youth?

JR: We hail from an uneducated, conservative family from Latur, a drought-prone, backward region. I did not have any activity at all in my schooldays, I just started socializing a bit in Latur College, I opted for the economic forum and acted in few gathering dramas.

After graduation, I came to Pune for CA studies, inspite of denial from my father, mainly due to lack of resources to provide for the costs. I got hostel freeship and did an evening job for livelihood and also did CA office training. The toughest exam studies has taught me hard lessons, as well opened a Pandora box of learning opportunities. Some activities were there on social and academic front in my youth. But nothing as far as physical exercise, sports etc

AG: Its clear there is a genetic factor to your ability, but according to me, that accounts for less than half (or maybe even less) of the performance. The rest comes down to your focus, determination, dedication, etc. Do you agree?

JR: Not sure about genetic factors, but not to blame the family and parents, as they had no exposure/opportunities, culture or tradition for fitness and sports, but I just can’t trace anything as a genetic factor in this regard.

As well I don’t see on my part any planned, thought or focus, determination, dedication for the performance as visible now.

It just evolved like “लोग‌ मिलते गये,कारवाॅं बनता गया”,

In 2001, at the age of 54, I joined a city cycle rally with a rented bicycle, then participated in long distance cycle rallies, met a gym coach in one of rallies, joined the gym, had some weekly evening runs at Taljai hill,

This led me to run 6k in Pune International ,where I finished as first runner up with a cash prize of ₹2000.

More focus was on cycling, till I took up to my first ever unique birthday run of 60 rounds of Deccan Gym Club jogging Track (450mtrs), as I entered my 60th year of age.

That continues, every additional year of age with additional round of running, consistently for 13 editions. The last one was on 5th June 2019 running 72@72 (72 rounds as I entered 72nd year of age).

Yes, I agree in this regarding about focus and determination. In the process, I am happy as I could complete 6 full marathons, 30+ half marathons, many many 10Ks. The events have been all over the country including at Satara, Hyderabad, Thane, Matheran, Pune, Mumbai etc.

I have done cycling all over India & US: 85000kms+, including local regular rides, long distance rides like Khardung-la Leh Ladakh, Narmada Parikrama on bike, Enduro3 Adventure Races 6 years in second toughest Amateur Category.

AG: You really enjoy the process of participant in various events, pacing at events, socializing with other runners and such. How important is this aspect to training?

JR: Yes. It’s quite important to training, that you enjoy the process equally, if not more than as you enjoy it after finishing. As said, the JOURNEY IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT AS THE DESTINATION IS.

I thoroughly enjoy supporting, encouraging others to attempt and reach their goals, help realize that they are more capable than what they are doing. This is a win-win, it gives me positive energy to overcome my own negativity, inhibitions. May not be visible, but in the process you are always in plus.


AG: At the same time, there is also a clear and noticeable desire for self-improvement. How do you keep this desire burning?

JR: Thanks for appreciation. Yes, I keep looking for opportunities to improve on, whatever I am doing. Interestingly I’m finding some connection in my migrating from Latur to Pune.

I had a hell of a complex in moving around, interacting with Puneites, scared of errors in language, manners,proper dress availability/sense and everything. This pushed me to observe, study, work and improve on much as possible.

Influenced in youth by lives and thoughts of Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba & Sane Guruji.

Also happened to read some books of self-improvement: Seven habits of highly effective people, How to win friends & influence people, Ageless Body & Timeless Mind etc.

With middle & advanced age, I was active and held posts in social and professional bodies, like WIRC, The Institute of CA of India, Jaycees, Rotary Club, Vidya Pracharak Mandal, Vipassana Samiti etc.

Deeply imbibed life values and sincere efforts for their application in activities, keeps the desire of self improvement.


AG: Any last words of wisdom you would give to young runners?





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