History tells us that in 490 BC, Pheidippides ran to Athens carrying news of the great victory his people had had over the Persians at Marathon. The distance he ran was about 40 kilometers, After he delivered his message — Nenikikamen (which meant, ‘Rejoice we conquer’ or ‘We have won’) — Pheidippides died. These days, thousands of seemingly rational people don’t view that grisly result as a reason not to run long distances.
Running is the great equaliser — a sport, an activity that exists outside of age, gender, race, occupation, or any other perceived barriers. When you run, you’re just a person among thousands of people. A runner among runners experiencing the same challenge of get up and go.
But call it addiction or ambition, professionally successful women have taken to endurance sports in a very big way in recent years. Also many of them haven’t given themselves to sport at the expense of professional success. Instead, they have made a giant leap forward in both areas.
Vaishali Kasture is the first Indian woman to run the prestigious Boston Marathon and the first Indian woman to run Comrades — the world’s oldest ultramarathon, back-to-back. These two are apart from several other running exploits.
From the boardroom to the wide-open road, Kasture, a partner with one of the ‘Big Four’, has been tapping into her love of all things athletic and has been succeeding at balancing personal desires with professional gain.
“I started running a decade after I entered the corporate workforce just to beat the monotony of home, then work and then back home. I had to find my third dimension. And once I did my first race, I was hooked,” she says.
“For me running is me-time, food for my soul. I come back home relaxed and happy. I run four days each week and will continue doing so to retain the joy of running and the satisfaction my soul gets from this third dimension. When my soul is fed, I feel calm. In fact, when I don’t run I feel agitated. I don’t run or workout because I want to live longer. I also don’t pretend to make sacrifices and choices. I do what I do , because I like to do it, simple. That’s my mantra in life — I don’t necessarily want to live long. But as long as I live, I want to live like a rockstar.”
The relationship between professional and sporting success goes beyond perseverance.
“People ask me how I manage a job, a family and then the running. I don’t think I ‘manage’ all that. I just like it — it makes me feel good. I run because that’s food for my soul.”
Running is full of people reaching for something bigger, aiming for goals, finding peace in the pain and discomfort. People also run to escape from all that reaching; in their careers, personal and professional lives, etc. Running is just that escape people have figured out to have that third dimension to their lives.