On The Run | Rajesh Vetcha

Rajesh Vetcha, 41, is an infrastructure project developer, but his main calling in life is running. Vetcha has the uncanny ability to create networks for runners in every city he lives in. He started a running group in 2005 in Bangalore after he realized that there were no support systems for runners in the city. Vetcha was training for a marathon then, and the only help he could find was online, from a friend in England. When he shifted to Hyderabad in 2007, the first thing he did was form a group called Hyderabad Runners. The organization now has 1,200 members, some as young as 16, some as old as 81. “We’ve got art collectors, housewives, businessmen, tea sellers," says Vetcha. “Running is a great leveller."

Vetcha, who lives with his wife and two children, shares his running story.

How did you get hooked to running?

Warm-up: Rajesh Vetcha at the KBR Park in Hyderabad. Photo: Kumar/Mint

What’s your favourite running gear?

Asics shoes. I’ve used those ever since I started running seriously. Garmin GPS and FuelBelt utility belt for water.

What’s your regular training routine like?

I do a minimum of four days of running a week, and I try to go to the gym or go cycling twice a week. I run at least 8km a day, whether I’m doing Tempo runs, Intervals, or just an easy run.

What’s your running soundtrack?

The chirping of birds, natural sounds, even just people gossiping. You can get knocked down by a car if you’ve got headphones on.

What do you like and dislike about running in Hyderabad?

The weather is excellent in Hyderabad all through the year except for April and May, like Bangalore. What I don’t like is that there are no running spaces in the city. There are only two parks, KBR and Botanical Gardens. We run on roads, face road rage and bad driving. It’s horrible.

What kind of diet do you follow on race days (pre-, during, and post-race)?

I eat a normal Indian diet—rotis, rice, dal—but non-spicy and simple, and lots of it the night before a race. I stick to bananas, oranges, glucose biscuits and Gatorade during the race. I used to use energy gels, but some of them didn’t suit me. I don’t eat anything for 45 minutes to an hour after the race because my stomach can’t handle it.

How do you balance your work and travel schedule with running?

Everywhere I go, I make my plans around running. In most cities here I have running mates. During the run I like talking, it gives me a good idea of how my body is doing. I like making friends while running. During a long run, people tend to open up completely. I divide my life into three parts—personal, running, and professional. I clearly partition them and if you are really passionate, you’ll always find time.

What’s the most interesting race you’ve run?

The New York Marathon is something else. For 8 hours, all of New York city is blocked out for the runners. You’ll never see the city like that! Music groups from all over the city are out on the streets playing—from bhangra to episcopal.

What’s the next marathon for you?

The Bangalore Ultra in November.

This is the first edition of On the Run, a series that will profile India’s most enthusiastic marathon runners. In the lead-up to the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on 30 September, On the Run will appear weekly.