A chance encounter with the group Hyderabad Runners a year ago helped American Ijeoma Anusionwu discover her latent zeal for running a year back. She has since successfully run multiple marathons, starting from 5k runs to more recently completing a 70k run at the Darjeeling marathon.
A lawyer by profession, she initially started interacting and socialising with the intention to make friends. She says, “I met a bunch of guys back in February 2015, and their idea of celebrating any occasion was running. So my first tryst with running was actually only to seek out a group of friends, which I think mentally motivated me. Also, it just so happens that they were a group of runners. If they were a group of drinkers, I would probably be a drinker by now,” she laughs.
Ijeoma participated in the Hyderabad Marathon for the first time in February 2015. “With no professional training, I ran non-stop without a break. My lungs were bursting but I was really proud of my achievement,” she says.
This encouraged her to push the limits and go for a 7k run at the Decathlon Holi Run in the city. Completing these runs successfully gave her the encouragement to participate in bigger marathons. “I did a 10k run exactly a week after the 7k one,” she says.
However, she eventually realised that if she was to run in bigger marathons she needed to condition her body. “My knees begun to ache and my body began to react to all the stress. But thankfully the group members always knew what was happening to me. They would give me the right training advice or tips for my diet to help me”
The city itself has helped her train and become a professional, she feels. “I didn’t realise Hyderabad was such a hilly city. Compared to other cities, Hyderabad’s terrain is a lot harder to run on, which made running in other cities a lot easier. My speed also continued to increase,” says the 30-year-old.
While she is looking forward to participating in other marathons, she can’t help but gorge on the upma here. “The biryani’s alright but the upma, oh it’s great,” she says.
She adds, “While most of my fellow expats continue to hang out among themselves, I have made a lot of Indian friends who have shown me the real India and a lot of the city as well.”