When we say Granules India managing director Krishna Prasad Chigurupati has been on the run for years now, we mean it. From the scorching deserts of Africa to the freezing vistas of the North Pole and Antarctica, the 60-year-old and his wife, Uma, have run marathons on all seven continents, thereby ensuring a place for themselves in the Guinness World Records as the only Indian couple to have done so.
“I was never a fitness freak. In fact, I never used to exercise regularly. A decade back, even walking for a few kilometres used to feel like an uphill task,” says Hyderabad-based Chigurupati, who finally started running at the insistence of juniors at work. “Some of my colleagues had signed up for a 10-km run in Hyderabad and coaxed me to join as well. That was my first run,” he says.
There was no looking back after that. Chigurupati and his wife started running marathons and half-marathons across the country and, then, in cities around the world. But soon after, the initial excitement started wearing thin. On a research trip to California for their other interest — wine — the Chigurupatis signed up for the LA marathon on a whim. “It was only after completing the run that we realised we were done running city marathons. We needed adverse conditions — to put it nicely — to keep the excitement level up,” grins Chigurupati.
So the couple set its sights on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya next. “There were people and animals running together. It was an amazing experience,” he says. There, the Chigurupatis met a man who had already run marathons on all seven continents and whose last stop was Lewa. “We were really inspired by his feat and decided to do the same.”
Chigurupati says besting their personal times was never the target for him or his wife. Instead, they had made up their minds to run marathons on all seven continents within a single calendar year. So in 2010, the couple took off on its mission, running renowned courses such as the Australian Outback Marathon, the Porto Marathon in Portugal, the Buenos Aires International Marathon, Argentina, and the International Gobi Marathon in Mongolia. The last destination was Antarctica, their toughest experience by far.
“The temperature was around -17 degree Celsius and we had no experience of running on ice or snow. We had only practised for about 6-7 km wearing the warmest clothes we had,” he says. Once they had experienced the Antarctic chill, they couldn’t leave the North Pole unconquered. So, a few months later, they ran a marathon there as well. “At that time, the temperature was a balmy -34 degree Celsius and I was a 56-year-old man. But I did it.” Chigurupati credits his marathon obsession for keeping age-related ailments away.
Though the couple has whittled down the annual marathon list to two or three key events, Chigurupati feels they still have some milestones to cross — among them the New York and Berlin marathons — which “require a lifetime of preparation”. The Chigurupatis are at the starting line already, warmed up for the run of their life.