Bylahalli Raghunath Janardan, 86, will be one of the oldest participants in the TCS World 10k

At 86, Bylahalli Raghunath Janardan looks like the last person who needs a walking stick. Instead, the retired octogenarian has a Raleigh bicycle that accompanies him everywhere.

By 9.30am, he has already cycled 15km from his home to Kanteerava Stadium, where he tells us that next month, he will be taking part in the TCS World 10k marathon, making him one of the oldest participants at the event.

Janardan has run 13th Bengaluru marathon, in addition to his 16 full marathons and 64 half marathons. One might assume then that he has been running all his life but Janardan’s first full marathon was at the age of 72, which he completed in five hours and 40 minutes. It was a 42-km marathon but he was unable to finish it, an experience he still repents sometimes.

“At the 4-km mark, I was chased by some dogs who almost bit me. Then again, at 16km, I stumbled since the road was too narrow in Madikeri. At this point, the doctors present advised that I stop the run.

It was the one and only time I’ve actually listened to my doctors,” recalls the former Indian Railways employee, adding, “I repented it soon after because I had already finished the hilly portions of the run. The rest would have been easy.”

Janardan’s tryst with fitness started post a diagnosis of major epilepsy at 62 – a decision that left him shocked but not devastated.

“I refused to believe it initially. Under my family’s compulsion, I took the required medication for nine months. But then I didn’t want to anymore. I hated being dependent or feeling unproductive because of the medication,” he shares.

Thus, he soon started venturing on bicycle rides, and covered close to 75 km in the first ride he took to Devanahalli to watch his son’s sitar performance. “I managed the whole ride just fine, and this was on a cycle that weighed 22kg.

The next day, I did the same and after this, I told my family members that I didn’t want medication anymore,” he says, adding that he saves close to `3,000 per month by avoiding fuel and medication.

The octogenarian shares that he never feels old and thanks to the marathons he runs, he’s constantly surrounded by young people.

The cycle too helps him relive his ‘lost boyhood days’. Now that the fitness bug has bitten Janardan, he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon and has even found some cheerleaders along the way. During an obstacle race, he recalls feeling apprehensive about having to climb a 12-feet high tyre wall, cross over a beam and make his way down on the other side. “As I wondered how to do this, another woman came up and told me she had been watching me complete tasks that even she couldn’t do.

She motivated me to try this one too and I didn’t just try, I succeeded as well,” he says.Next up on Janardan’s list? “A 24-hour endurance test at Kanteerava Stadium, where I want to cover around 100 to 120km either in July or August,” he says confidently.

posted Thursday May 2nd