"Since childhood running has for me been a route to personal freedom and expression."

Hugh Jones is no lesser than a living legend. He has 22 marathon wins under his belt and is among the top five record holders in the history of the sport. Jones has won marathons in England, West Indies, Iceland, Spain, Sweden and Norway and created history in the 2nd London Marathon by clocking a time of 2 hrs : 9 mins : 24 secs and winning with a record margin of 2 mins : 57 secs, a mark that still stands today. Jones has gone on to become an expert in the science and knowledge of marathons and enjoys a tremendous relationship with athletes and organizers from around the world. He is the course measurer for the London Marathon, one of the largest marathons in the world and was also the IAAF appointed official in charge at the Sydney Olympics.  Hugh Jones is the race director of the Tata Steel, Kolkata.

Almost every major Indian city hosts a marathon. From your experience in India do you agree there are more people now than ever who are taking to running in India?

Absolutely agree – and this is a trend that is likely to continue in the medium-long term.

Why more and more companies are encouraging their staff to participate in Marathons?

This is because it is good for their employees’ general well being and also builds a corporate culture of joint endeavor.

Most talented young long-distance runners now come from the underdeveloped world. Can running be used as a tool for social inclusion?

Yes – this has been true for centuries in the ‘developed world’. The sport of distance running offers a channel by which those physically talented can demonstrate their abilities without unnecessary ‘mediation’.

Do you agree running can boost self esteem?

Undoubtedly. And for those whose self esteem is maybe too high it can help re-balance and allow them to find something in common with people in other walks of life.

Today, marathons have a very substantial number of women runners. How do you see this trend?

Inexorably increasing… Since childhood running has for me been a route to personal freedom and expression. I am sure this is a path that everyone – both male but maybe even more emphatically female – will want to tread.

Perhaps the biggest obstacles for runners who are contemplating their first marathon are the many myths and misconceptions that surround marathons for instance running can hurt your knees or ankles. What’s your take on this?

Suck it and see: venture forward, but gently. Yes: knees may be vulnerable points within our anatomy but with a modest training regime all parts of the body can be strengthened. It just has to be an exercise in patience. Too much too soon, too fast: that’s bound to end up with injury.

Should beginners focus on mileage or faster runs?

Mileage – make sure you have the confidence that you can ‘go the distance’. Once you have done so then maybe you can shift emphasis to doing it a little more speedily.

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