His agility belied his looks and his 66 years,when Naresh Taliya effortlessly stretched his legs into a jazz split,bounced back to his feet before bending forward and making a perfect hand-stand after he completed the 21-kilometre half-marathon within three hours. The cameras clicked and the crowd and other participants cheered.
Taliya,who is from Surat,said, I have been running for 25 years now. I dont feel my body getting any older…In fact,I feel fitter with every passing day.
Waving a large Indian flag and a poster pinned to his back applauding the Army,Navy,Air Force,police and fire brigade,Taliya is a common face in almost every Marathon in the country. He participates along with his childhood friend,60-year-old Hasmukh Trivedi.
Together,they have run for events in cities like Pune,Allahabad,Surat and Chandigarh. This was my seventh Mumbai marathon. I dont drink or smoke. I eat healthy and exercise. My stamina never wanes, Taliya,who has silver hair,sunken,bespectacled eyes and wrinkled skin,said.
After retiring from a saree manufacturing factory in Gujarat,he joined a gym in Surat as instructor where he gives tips on weight loss. Hes one of the several senior citizens who participated in the marathon,some running the Dream Run,others taking up more strenuous challenges.
Another participant of the half marathon is 87-year-old Shrikrishna Deshpande of Belgaum. He ran along with friend Captain Rajaram. This is Deshpandes sixth Mumbai Marathon. The retired railway employee has a strict exercise regimen and regulated diet. I have been participating at running and walking events in many other cities. This is my sixth time here. I will participate next year too, Deshpande said.
There were equally committed senior women among the runners. Retired accountant Sunanda Mokashi,64,ran the 6-km Dream Run and her aim was to protest against corruption. As an accountant in the public sector,I witnessed instances of malpractice and misappropriation of funds. I quit my job after 10 years. The marathon is another platform to protest against the blatant corruption in society, she said.