Tata Steel Kolkata 25K - 18th December 2022

Munish Bhagi

TSK25K 2022,  2:30 Pacer Bus

Was man ‘Born to Run’? Christopher McDougall raised this seminal issue in his iconic book, published in 2009, whose title carried this phrase that has since become a part of the running lore, an engrossing narrative that everyone can relate to, and a must read for runners. Col Munish Bhagi, a pacer for the 2:30 bus in the upcoming Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, 2022 edition, firmly believes that man is indeed born to run and swears by this dictum.

Munish Bhagi is a complex person, difficult to pigeonhole as this or that, for he is a multifaceted being with eclectic preferences in life. An Engineer and MBA, he is essentially an outdoors man, with wide ranging interests and pursuits in the domain of physical activity, from running to cycling, hockey to golf, strength training to Pilates, trekking to long distance solo motor biking, to name a few, and yet, his bucket list is full of unattended candidates.

While he was initiated into running in 2015 when he commenced training with the ‘West Delhi Runners’ (‘WDR’) of New Delhi, a group of running enthusiasts with intimidatingly diverse skill sets, he later   became a part of the ‘Elite Runners Academy’ (‘ERA’) of New Delhi, as well. At ERA, he trained under the tutelage of Dinesh Kumar Meena, a remarkable master athlete of international standing, and arguably one of the best running coaches in India. The structured training at ERA inculcated discipline and moderation, and a realization that distance running was as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge, and the results show, for he has been achieving a PB in every successive major event, and all along, has remained injury free. Munish ran his first Half Marathon in 2015 @ 1:58:20 and his PB in HM is 1:43:34. Having had his fill of HMs, he graduated to marathons, the 42.2K holy grail of running, and eventually to ultra runs, i.e., distances beyond 42.2K. In his debut marathon, the ‘Tata Mumbai Marathon’ of 2020, perhaps the most iconic marathon in India, with a terrain and weather that challenge the runner all through the race, he ran an easy sub 4:00 race.

Having achieved a modicum of success in his tryst with running, and moved on from being a greenhorn to a veteran runner, courtesy the selfless guidance from his running buddies in general and the world class coaching by the running coach turned friend, in particular, Munish feels it is high time that he repaid the debt of gratitude, in part, by motivating and guiding others in attaining their running goals. Hence, one in a while, shunning the urge for yet another PB, he dons the hat of a pacer, and in doing so, his love affair with ‘The City of Joy’ prevails, and he is back, yet again, to pace the 2:30 bus, having done so in TSK 25K of 2018 and 2019, with clockwork precision, in 2:29:30 and 2:29:46 respectively.

In TSK 25K of 2022, for him, ‘ekla chalo re’ has yielded to ‘eksanghe chalo re‘.

Come on board his bus, fasten your seatbelts, get set for the ride of the year, and together, make it the BOTY, the bus of the year.