Chandra Sekhar Katuri
Chandra Sekhar Katuri

Chandra Sekhar Katuri: The merchant of speed

He has run 21 marathons and had three podium finishes in six ultra marathons

In Bangalore’s running circles, 34-year-old Chandra Sekhar Katuri is referred to as the “merchant of speed"—sobriquets don’t get any more self-explanatory.

An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, graduate, Katuri works in the research and development arm of software and engineering services company Cadence Design Systems. Katuri, who started running more than 10 years ago, has run 21 marathons and six ultra marathons. A well-known runner in Bangalore’s elite running circles, he is associated with a group called BHUKMP—the acronym for five popular marathons, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kaveri Trail Marathon (ultra), Mumbai and Pondicherry. His dream is to run a full marathon with his children one day. Edited excerpts:

When, how and why did you start running?

I started running during my college days at IIT, Delhi, in 2005 to manage stress and my time well. I think running has helped me to succeed in my personal and professional life. I was never a competitive runner, but managed to increase my daily distance of 10km within the first year of running after I moved to Bangalore for work. I ran my first half marathon in Europe in 2007, while on work, which I completed in 1 hour, 33 minutes.

What’s your favourite running gear and soundtrack?

I use Asics shoes and like all kinds of running apparel. I don’t have a favourite soundtrack because I run outdoors and prefer sounds of nature, like the chirping of birds. I find it more relaxing than playing music. During my weekend, long runs with BHUKMP, it’s time for “run-versation".

What’s your training regimen like?

I run outdoors two-three days on weekdays with a group of runners at the Kaikondrahalli lake, Bangalore (a 10km run). On Saturdays, I usually do a long run with BHUKMP. I also mix up some cross-training like cycling or rowing.

Why are you called the “merchant of speed"?

I think it is because I have had three podium positions in the six ultra marathons (75km) in 2010-12. My fastest timing being 8 hours, 15 minutes at the 2012 Bangalore Ultra Marathon.

Tell us about BHUKMP.

In the pre-Facebook era, the only way to find friends was to smile and talk to other runners you see regularly. I met the other BHUKMPers while running at the Gandhi Krishi Vignan Kendra, or the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. As a group, we have been running from 2007. The acronym BHUKMP was coined by our captain Rishi (Rishikesh Basu) in 2009.

What do you eat the night before a marathon?

I love to join pasta parties to catch up with other runners before the race day but prefer (to eat) something light like a salad or some rice.

What’s the difference between running a full marathon and an ultra?

When I run a full marathon I cannot imagine running the extra 30km in an ultra. But when I start training for an ultra my mind is trained to take up that distance. It is all a mind game. You need to win your mind and keep running when every fibre of the body wants you to give up.

What’s the importance of having good running buddies?

The key element in making running an integral part of life is finding good running buddies. They are the ones who wait for you at the finish line and cheer you when you are down and out.

How long do you see yourself running in marathons, and do you have a dream marathon you would like to run?

Most of the runners we see now will be running in their 80s and 90s. I sincerely believe this is possible for anyone who takes running or any other sport seriously and has the support of their running friends. Most of the fast runners in BHUKMP are above 50, and they are constantly improving as they grow older.

On the Run is a monthly series that profiles the most enthusiastic marathon runners.

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