There are several little yet wonderful ways in which sports can help magically transform the life of an individual. For sports to become the miracle worker in one’s life, one has to allow for it to make space for itself in the day-to-day lifestyle. Perhaps for Kapil Arora, the Guinness Book of World Records name holder and the Segment Head for Strategic Business over at Reliance Mutual Funds, the initiative to take to running and look after his body fitness was born out of a kind of self-awareness.
Having finished the Ultra Marathon in record time and entered his name in the record books, Arora spoke to The Bridge in an exclusive interview and elaborated on how running in marathons has changed his life for the better and what really drove him to pick up his running shoes. “It all started 9 years back when I was overweight and a heavy smoker. I thought I’ll change something because the situation was going from bad to worse,” he expressed candidly. Not only perturbed by issues of weight, but Arora was also caught up in indulging in smoking, which doubly caused ill-effects on his health. Distressed at the sight of his body taking an undesirable road, Arora decided to do something about it. He says,”It was then that I started running and I met my coach (Brinston Miranda, national-level athlete).”
It was with Miranda that his initial days of running began. Stuck in the mundane routine of corporate life, the man from Jammu and Kashmir spent countless hours training for marathons and slowly, but steadily started falling in love with it. Arora conveys, “I ran my first half-marathon, which was nice and then I did a full marathon too,” reliving the moments from years long-gone-by. “Soon I started training hard and one thing led to the other,” he confessed alluding to his growing love for the sport and him practically touring the whole world to participate in such top-ranked tournaments.
Arora, by then was completely taken in by the love for his newfound passion and participated in a lot of Marathons and then went for the Ultra Marathon in South Africa. It was in the second visit to the South African Comrades Run that the man from Jammu created history by finishing the astonishingly difficult Ultra Marathon race. Arora still looks back on that June day with fond remembrance, “This was my second Comrades in South Africa. The Comrades Marathon is a 90 km race, you have to run from one city to another which is 90 km’s apart, non-stop,” he narrates informatively. “They give a 12-hours time limit within which you have to complete the run. The point is you can’t slow down in the race because there are 6 cut-offs in the race. Every 17-18 km’s later, there is a cutoff, if you don’t reach that point, then you are out of the race,” he explains and lets out a brief sigh recalling the pumping adrenaline in his veins during that run.
However, Arora was not entirely sure that he can see the finish line on that occasion, “During the second time, I thought I’ll miss it because I was in the Medical tent when I was 45 km away from it,” he mentions. “They gave me water and all over there and told me I should not go back out. But I asked them to let me go back. In fact, I started running again and finished it in 11 hours 17 minutes, that was my best race. I was astonished,” Arora said, a hint of pride ringing in his voice.
Once the record books bore his name, it inspired Arora to compete in further marathons. The author of several bestselling books like the Ironic Cadence, he has taken part in over 22 Marathons and has been the face for Puma India, when it came to the field of marathon running. The most notable among them was he even took part in and completed the Iron Man Marathon which involves 1.8 km of swimming in the sea, 90 km biking and 21 km of running back to back, a challenging feat to have achieved.
The road was never easy and Arora confesses to overcoming a series of challenges en route. “I had to face a lot of challenges and overcome a lot of issues due to my weight. For example, I am 66kg’s now, I was 88kg’s back then and had a bad lifestyle, my blood pressure would be high,” he recalls. Having this change of lifestyle has been a great boon for him as he recollected, “Starting this (running) was a problem at first. Being heavy and running is not at all easy. There were huge challenges in terms of stamina and maintaining consistency. But I was determined about bringing a change. I didn’t give up. I set higher goals for myself. So if I was doing a 4-hour marathon, I set the goal as the next one I’ll complete in 3 hours 45 minutes and then the following in 3 hours 40 minutes, this kept me motivated,” he categorically explained.
Aside from being a dedicated running enthusiast, Arora is an avid reader and has the habit of completing around twelve-thirteen books in a month. A notable author currently, Arora has realized that the key to success in life lies in knowing how to handle time. He explains, “I learned how to manage my time effectively because of this. This is where most people go wrong. If you can manage your time effectively, you can be more productive than what you are in a day. Then you can have time for everything – your family, your work, yourself. My book is all about this,” he elaborates. Looking ahead there are newer heights to climb for Arora who looks longingly forward to the days on the road, “I think I have just started. I have many, many more things to do. I’ll be doing my second Iron Man this year and I’ll also be going to Canada to represent my country. I’m also doing a Masters Athletics Event where I’ll take part in a 10000m race, I’ll be writing 2-3 more books. I know this is just the beginning for me,” the jovial man assures us before signing off.