DAGADU Bhamre did not really know what a marathon is until his family explained it to him recently. Now, clad in a shirt, white dhoti and black coat, the 103-year-old is ready to walk, perhaps run a bit he says, in the four-kilometre run that forms the senior citizens’ category of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. He is the oldest participant this year at the marathon where 42,000 runners will push their boundaries. It will be his first attempt.
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“I have not practised. What is there to practise? I walk over 4 km everyday,” says Bhamre, a Malegaon resident. He worked as an accountant before retirement and now lives with his son in Malegaon. About three years ago, his wife died at the age of 91.
His routine since then has been the same. “I started walking to temples every morning,” he says. Each morning, he wakes up by 5 am and does gardening. He then takes a bath, finishes his breakfast consisting of upma or poha, and sets off to visit at least four to five temples in the vicinity. The Shani temple, Ram temple, and Sai temple all fall on a route spanning 1.5 km from his home.
On his way back, Bhamre stops to talk to few of his friends before returning home. A vegetarian, he prefers his food “less spicy” and full of fruits and sweets. He needs milk or curd too everyday, he adds in Marathi.
In evenings, he sets off once again, to revisit the temples.
In 2015, his son-in-law Subhash Wani saw there was a senior citizens’ category at the marathon, and last year suggested that Bhamre participate. “He immediately said yes, though he does not understand what a marathon is,” Wani said, adding that Bhamre only asked whether “he needs to run or walk” during the event.
“Even when he visits us in Vikhroli, he walks off to find temples in neighbourhood,” Wani says.
In 2016, 104-year-old Fauja Singh was the oldest marathon runner to participate in Mumbai. This time, the 103-year-old Malegaon resident will run his debut marathon. He has not undergone any health check-up or stress test, as doctors usually prescribe for marathon runners, claiming that he has never felt breathless or suffered any heart ailment. “I have never required hospitalisation or any surgery,” Bhamre says.
Born on January 1, 1914, Bhamre completed 103 years a few days ago and claims he still feels 90 years old.
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