Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram has reason to celebrate.
On the morning of Sunday, July 3, while Kerala’s capital witnessed its usual share of morning walks and jogs, Geeno Antony finished third in the men’s category at the IAU 24H Asia & Oceania Championships, in Bengaluru.
Geeno, who hails from Thumba, was part of the Indian men’s ultrarunning team which won the gold medal (team medals are awarded on the strength of the aggregate mileage of each team’s top three runners). Runners did repeated laps on the 400-metre-synthetic track of Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Stadium, for 24 hours, from 8 AM on July 2 to 8 AM on July 3.
Geeno logged 593 laps translating to 237.2 kilometres covered. “ The first half was tough for me. The second half was better,’’ he said. It was in the night hours of July 2 that Geeno moved up from fourth position to the third. But it was a lead by a fragile margin and he had Joe Ward of Australia snapping at his heels. The situation was different by next morning. The final results for men showed fourth placed Matt Griggs of Australia at 581 laps and Joe Ward (he finished fifth) at 551 laps.
Geeno’s family was present at the stadium to witness the Indian team’s performance. Employed with the Indian Army, Geeno may sometimes be seen doing his long runs on the bypass linking Kazhakkoottam and Kovalam, when on leave and visiting home in Thiruvananthapuram.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)