Begin typing your search...

A ‘marathon’ run for Chennai’s Balaji

From Mogappair’s calm roads to the Comrades Run in South Africa, a benchmark marathon for athletes, Chennai-based runner TT Balaji has come a very long way.

A ‘marathon’ run for Chennai’s Balaji
TT Balaji during a marathon run


He wasn’t a born athlete, disliked sports at school and college but as destiny would have it, he had to take up running for the simplest of reasons – to keep himself fit after a back operation that forbade him to use the gym. Balaji had undergone a surgery to his spinal cord in 2012 and took up jogging at the Anna Nagar Park to keep himself fit. What started as a pastime turned into a passion when a few of Balaji’s friends saw a spark in him. “Many of my friends asked me to attempt marathons as I was easily able to run around 7 kilometres in the park. It was just a matter of another 3 kilometres and I gave marathons a shot in 2014, starting with a 10k run in Chennai. It gave me immense confidence in my abilities and I attempted a 21k run soon after,” Balaji said. 

Balaji’s love for running increased and he participated in many Indian marathons in Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kochi apart from several challenging Trail runs in Jawadhu and Chennai. His passion the distances too increased as Balaji started participating and finishing full marathons (42.2kms) with ease. 

The seeds of participating in the Comrades Run (87kms to be completed in under 12 hours) were sown by his coach Kannan Sundararajan, with whom Balaji has been training for a couple of years. His friends and mentors at the Mogappair Fitness Circle in Chennai also encouraged Balaji to participate in the Comrades. “After many friends and well wishers started to encourage me, I decided to give it a shot and trained for almost a year to participate in the run. My first target was to lose some more weight and inculcate more discipline in my training,” Balaji explained.

Comrades wasn’t a smooth sail for Balaji. In windy conditions and a circuit that covered five hills enroute, the task was ardours. He developed cramps and wanted to quit midway. “After 30kms, I developed cramps and wanted to quit. It was my wife Gayathri who persuaded me to at least walk and finish the race. I had to stop at every medical station to get a massage done and continue with the marathon. But due to my wife’s motivation and my will power, I set small targets for myself (like complete 50kms first and so on) and was able to finish in 11 hours and 48 minutes,” he added. 

A man of few words, Balaji is an epitome of humility. He dedicated his accomplishment to his biggest pillars of strength – his wife and his team at Mogappair Fitness Circle. His wife Gayathri doubles up always as his biggest support staff and motivator. She accompanies him for all the races and is his source of energy, through all his ups and downs. During the several injury breaks he suffered in his running career, she kept him going and focused on the long journey ahead.

Visit to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Next Story