At 73, as most of his peers are slowing down, avid runner K. Chandrasekaran is speeding ahead.
Since he began to run regularly at 56, he has made great strides, progressing from 10km runs to completing his first marathon – the Sundown Marathon – in 2016.
He has since gone on to participate in another three marathons, placing among the top three Singaporeans in his age category (above 70) in two of them.
While 2020 has been a relatively quiet year for him due to the cancellation of many traditional races in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not without accomplishment.
He completed the 17.5km and 175km categories of The Straits Times Virtual Run, finishing the longer race yesterday. He covered the distance over 16 sessions, becoming the oldest runner to finish the 175km race so far. Last year, he clocked 1hr 52min for the 18.45km ST Run.
The mechanical engineer believes that age should not be an excuse for not exercising.
“I never think that I’m old. There are people who think like that and say they can’t run or walk because of that, but (that way of thinking) is one’s biggest enemy,” he said.
“It’s all about the determination. If I say I will run that day, it doesn’t matter whether it rains or not, I’ll do it.”
Chandrasekaran tried running at 50 as a way to keep fit, but stopped soon after as he experienced chest pains and his knees would swell after each run.
When he was 56, he embarked on his second attempt to exercise regularly. He tried indoor cycling on a stationary bike at home after reading that it would not add as much pressure on the knees as running did, tackling short rides of 15 to 20 minutes before he gradually increased the duration of each session to at least 40 minutes.
But he encountered some issues with his stationary bicycle and had to send it for repair. That was when he decided to give running another try.
He said: “I didn’t want to go on a 10-day break, so I thought I’d try jogging, which I’d given up.
“During those 10 days, I didn’t feel any difference in my knee condition, so I decided to alternate between running after that.”
After doing a few 10km events, he tried half-marathons. As he was training to improve his half-marathon timing, he began to cover longer distances and eventually signed up for the Sundown Marathon in 2016, which he finished in 5hr 56min.
On what keeps him running, he said: “It’s just some sort of satisfaction. It (running a full marathon) just happened, I never planned to do it. It was very casual and I didn’t push myself.”