I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.


Kiruba Shankar

Running the Auroville Marathon

I’m a proud Pondicherrian and when a marathon takes place near my hometown, I just have to be part of it. The event takes place on February 16th and it marks 40 years of founding of Auroville.

For those not in the know, Auroville is an international township located about 10 kms from Pondicherry. The place is home to residents from more than 50 nations and that’s as international as you can get.

It’s also my favorite place. Another reason why I’m going there.

I’m joining up with the wonderful Chennai Runners gang for the marathon and targetting running a half marathon. A big ask considering I’ve wilted down to near zero physical activity.

About 30 runners from Chennai have signed up for the run and on Friday, Feb 15th, we’re chartering a bus and will be staying at the Youth Centre. We’ll have to take our own sleeping bags, pillows and sleep on the floor of the two sports halls. It should be a welcome change from staying at hotels and definitely a lot more fun. It’ll also be good for all runners to be together before the run and the enthusiasm typically rubs on each other.

Now, to dust out my running shoes!

The 30 km Mahabalipuram Run on Nov 4th. Call For Help.

For the Chennai Runners Gang, every quarter there’s a very sacrosanct outing that most look forward to… either in anticipation or trepidation (depends on the level of your training).

And, that is the 30 kilometer run on the picturesque East Coast Road. The race starts at 4:30 early morning near the Toll Gate and ends at Mahabalipuram.

Here’s a shout out to all runners who love running. It’s an awesome opportunity to run with some really passionate folks. There’s a special energy about this group that always gets the best out of you.

We also need volunteers to help the runners. Would you be able to help out by providing water to the runners. All you need is a vehicle ( 2 wheeler or 4 wheeler), an extremely loud alarm clock to wake you up early in the morning, and a very big kind heart to help the toiling runners.

If you would like to chip in, please call Karthikeyan at 98842 17276 or me at 98415 97744. Thanks in advance.

A Movie That Captures The Spirit of Marathons

I loved watching the trailer. Now, I can’t wait for the movie to be released.

‘Spirit of the Marathon’ is the first ever feature-length film to capture the essence, drama and unique spectacle of the marathon. Featuring five runners – three amateurs and two elites – as they train for and ultimately run the Chicago Marathon, the tremendous challenge of the 42.2 kilometers race is brought to life by many of the most remarkable athletes in the history of sport.

More than a sports movie, it is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a glimpse into the world of ultimate human potential.

(Photo by Arnold Pouteau)

Participating in This Year’s Rowing Regatta Championship

Last evening, I went to the Madras Boat Club to look at how people are training for the forthcoming Merchants & Bankers Regatta. I got sucked into a vortex of nostalgic thoughts.

After all, for four years, I have been living and breathing this sport. When I was with Sify, I helped captain the team to three championship titles. The team ultimately went on undefeated for six straight years, a record in the 140 years of Boat Club history. After Sify, the companies I joined didn’t show any interest in rowing and hence was out of the rowing circuit. Now that I’ve started my own, it’s a lot easier to make decisions! 🙂

I’ve been close to a lot of officials, especially the captains of the boat. And even more closer to the laskars, the caretakers of the boats. They all insisted that I should come and participate in the championship this year. I called up my colleague, an oarsman himself, and it took us two seconds to come to the decision to participate. The rowing spirit grabs you and there’s no escaping it.

And so, here we are. Back in one of most prestigious corporate regattas in the country.

Me and my green horn team will start our training from Monday onwards. The championship races will be held mid September. So, this gives us about two months of practice time. A little short. The other teams already have a months head start.

I know we will get thrashed this year. Our team strength will be one fifth of the other teams. But the joy is in giving the teams a run for their money.

Personally for me, the next two months is going to be awesome from an exercise perspective. From Monday till Friday, it’ll be rowing practice. On Saturday, it will be Ultimate Frisbee. On Sunday, it’ll be the marathon practice. Life is good.

Here are some of the photos from the Boat Club. More photos here.

28 Kilometers of Pain, Camaraderie, Agony & Ecstasy

Last Sunday, the Chennai Runners went on the much awaited long distance run from Toll Gate (in the outskirts of Chennai) to Mahabalipuram. 28 kilometers distance. 27 members turned up for the run at 4:30 in the morning. That means, guys like me, who live on the other side of the city, had to wake up as early as 3:15 am to make it to the starting point on time.

We all met up inside the city at two locations (Alwarpet & Anna Nagar) at 3:45 am to carpool our way to Toll Gate which is about 15 kms away from the city. The reason why we chose the far away location is to avoid the congested city roads. The East Coast Road, where we made the full run, is a fantastic picturesque route which runs right along the ocean all the way to Mahabalipuram.

We spent some time warming up and working on our stretches. We’ve trained long enough to know that slacking on the warm up can lead to injuries during the long run. Vidyuth, who is our ‘drill master’, made sure that we did the stretches well.

Do you see those small strips glowing the runners’ dress? Those are small reflective stickers that Ramesh, one of our fellow runners had the foresight to bring along for all of us. At 5:00 in the morning, it is still quite dark and its not exactly safe to run on the highway. Such small details greatly enhance the safety of the runners.

We had another member of the team, who owns a mineal water plan, sponsor cartons of drinking water bottles for the entire team. He could not join us for the run but the water greatly helped the entire team.

KK, who is the main organizer of the run, is seen here writing the emergency phone number on the stickers. Should someone need help, all they need to do is call this number. We had four wonderful volunteers helping us with all support tasks. It was dark and hence you see a guy holding a cell phone to throw some light for KK to write those numbers.

We made sure that we ran on the right side of the road, facing the traffic. Here you see Shumit, one of the runners running on the Muttukadu bridge.

Runners in action. You can also see two volunteers handing out water to the runners.

The team of Abhi, Sathish, Aravind and Jay did a stupendous job of supporting the runners. All four of them are runners and have participated in marathons. But they chose to sacrifice the run to help out the team. Amazing team spirit. Without them, half of us would not have finished the full race.

Some of the runners were way better than the rest of us. Seen here are the early finishers who are relaxing and tending to the pains on the lawns of Surf restaurant. The hotel staff were kind enough to provide cold towels and lots of ice to soothe the pain.

That’s my peloton. The smile on our faces say it all. We finished the distance and it was a personal best for all of us. The four of us stuck with each other in the second half of the race, the tougher part.

There were amazing personal stories. Rajesh, the guy in the grey tshirt and shorts, is 100 kilos heavy. Its not easy to run the distance butRajesh had the sheer grit to want to come back to being fit and lean again. Supratik (red& white tshirt) and Sundar (in blue) have never run past 10kms before. This is the longest distance they have covered in their entire life.

Our gang was the last to finish, but we were absolutely determined. Each one of us kept egging on the others to continue in spite of all of us experiencing a lot of pain.

Honestly, if we had run separately on our own, none of us would have finished the race. Its because of the team spirit that we clung on. Each of us would fix a small distance for us to finish and we took turns fixing our targets. We would walk a little and then continue running again. Towards the end, the pain was unbearable and none of us could run. We finished the race by walking.

As we entered the hotel, everyone gave a rapturous applause and that was a touching gesture. Sure, we finished last, but the support and encouragement from the team symbolises the amazing spirit of the Chennai Runners.

After a sumptuous breakfast, where we gobbled up Idlis, Masala dosas, Pongal, Upma and Vada, we got together for a group photo.

The special equipment on Hari’s shoes calculated the exact distance. 28.2 kilometers. It also calcurates the speed of the run.

We all headed back in Shahid’s van back to Toll gate where our cars were parked in his palatial beach house.

I was on a ‘high’ the whole day. I started the race knowing that I won’t be able to cross the 10 kms mark. I even brought along money to hire a auto or take a bus to Mahabalipuram. I beat my own expectation. I broke that glass ceiling. I’m now more determined to train for the marathons.

The next big run is going to be in October. Next time, longer distance. This will happen once every quarter. However, we will continue to train for shorter distances (15 kms) every Sunday and even shorter runs (10kms) during mid weeks.

Ram Vishwananthan and KK have interesting writeups about their experience in the run. Recommended reading.