Running a Marathon at 70 years young
"Age is just a number, unless you are a piece of cheese ~ Luis Bunuel."
It was late January when we had a message from Preeti Arawade that a certain gentleman wanted to meet us to discuss if he can run the Berlin marathonlater this year in September. Within few days we had a meeting setup at my clinic with Mr. Daljit Mirchandani (DM), Amod, Priti and me one evening. At that time DM explained he would be turning 70 years young, his reasons for signing up for the marathon, his work life which is very busy, his medical history and what other doctors thought of his lifestyle, his overall life and family support while he contemplated this decision. He had asked me, so “should I do it.” Without blinking an eye Amod and me said, of course, if not now when?
Our journey began while realizing how meticulous he was, sometimes way too much Type A for both of us, I am type A myself who’s now turned a Type A-B but Daljit was classic case, updated workouts always ahead of time, travel details shared, Sunday messages about workouts done and he was “waiting for the next plan.” Slowly but surely, we would plan his week, his month based on his travel schedules that ranged from India, to Asia to different plans in USA. He never missed his schedules, rather he is so meticulous he reminded us, he missed one run from Feb to September, insane! The best part of this entire journey was to see his confidence grow, from 10k to 28 km with ease, to doing speed work, the slightest niggle was discussed. In June we met Amod, Daljit and me to discuss his progress and there was no looking back.
As race day came close we were all sure he would crack Berlin, I sat with him couple times reminded of his strategy. The morning of the race while we met in our hotel to parade to the start line, DM said “heslept like a baby last night,” must have been old age I guess, because I barely slept 3 hours for different reasons! Amod and me had a feeling his time would be close to 5:15, he did 5:17 for his first marathon at 70 years age. That WhatsApp call in the evening, he shared his excitement of not just finishing, but without any cramps, and the last bit he sprinted and missed seeing his family who he saw during different kms of the course.
I have had the opportunity to coach a wide spectrum of athletes all over the world, but at 70 to have such dream, when a lot of people were unsure why you would do it, then to put in the time and execute race strategy to the tee, he told me “I did everything boss told us during our strategy meeting on Saturday, and Sunday morning just before race start.” Life is amazing, life is short, but life is also meaningful when you put your heart and soul into it.
Quite often we tell each other, age is just a number, today I can proudly say Daljit proved that to us, the best part, he’s now signing up for his second marathon. He gifted us with a memento, an hourglass (pictured) that I have put in my clinic, a gentle reminder time maybe running out, but you choose how you want to live life, and with the right mindset all your goals are achievable.