Dr Murali Nannapaneni, a general physician, has run 57 marathons in the past eight years. But 18,000 odd km hasn’t slowed him down. Today, apart from being ready at any given point of the day to start running, the former NRI is on a mission — to take running to every city in India. In July, he and three others will be organising the Vizag Marathon.
By his own admission Nannapaneni didn’t “really like running”. “As a kid, I was in the NCC and I represented AP. I couldn’t even run four kilometres,” he says laughing.
Today there are few things that get Nannapaneni as excited as running. “I started distance running eight years ago and ran my first race in Toronto. I would always get tired running, but one day I pushed myself a little further and ran more than what I usually did. That was followed by two more days of running close to an hour and before I knew, I was running the marathon within a month,” he says, adding, “But that was also possible because I was already working out and was fit. Otherwise, one needs quite a lot of practise and it isn’t advisable to run a marathon so soon.”
Nannapaneni’s journey of running in India started when he visited Hyderabad in 2010. “I was here for some work… I would stay here for six months and go back home. That kept happening until 2014 when I permanently moved back.”
He moved to Hyderabad with the idea of starting a hospital. “A couple of my doctor friends and I thought that there was a lot of scope to start a hospital in Hyderabad, so I permanently moved here. Work on that front while still taking it’s own course, my new found passion took most of my time and in the meantime, I started running with a local running group, the Hyderabad Runners.”
Talking about an interesting incident back in 2013, he says, “A couple of my friends from Hyderabad Runners came up with the idea of running 13 marathons in 2013. I didn’t take it up, because of the travelling I thought I’d have to do every month to find a race. But unexpectedly towards the end of the year, I had to stay back in the US for about two months. So quietly, I started searching and going to whichever marathon I could. And before I even knew it I had completed 13 marathons, but by then it was time to come to India. On the day before I was scheduled to board my flight, I found one more marathon and I snuck out to take part in it… I managed to run 14 marathons that year, fulfilling the challenge!”
With running picking up across the world, he thought that India shouldn’t be left behind. “In the US, people are very passionate about running and I wanted people in India to take it up seriously too,” he says. And that’s why he, along with a few others, started organising runs. “I love running and I want to share that with people. The best thing about running is that anyone, a professional and an amateur, are at the same level when they start running.”
As of now, Nannapaneni has organised and is the race director for five different runs. He has been working on the Hyderabad Marathon since it started six years ago, then there was a run in the rural and picturesque Konaseema started in 2014, one in Rajahmundry, since last year, the Amaravati Marathon in Vijayawada earlier this year and the upcoming one in Vizag, the night marathon along the Bay of Bengal in July.
“We got a great response for the run in Vijayawada. People were very enthusiastic and the CM wanted us to go ahead with another run in Vizag, so we started preparing for that.”
The run in Vizag could see about 7,500 people, though the organisers are preparing for more. “Vizag has an annual run already and we thought ‘how do we make this interesting?’ So we came up with a night run. This is a different take on runs and makes it a very different experience, without the usual blazing sun and when you add a spectacular light and sound show all along the route for the runners,” he says....