Mumbai Marathon: German couple has run nearly 700 marathons

Germany's Mario Sagasser & wife Doris have run nearly 700 marathons between them; Sunday's Mumbai Marathon will be Mario's 400th & Doris' 276th long-distance race

On Sunday, most runners participating in the Mumbai Marathon will be focusing on just one figure — their finish timing. However, for Germany’s Mario Sagasser it’s another figure that assumes greater importance. For, Sunday will mark the 400th finished marathon/ultra marathon of Mario’s career.

Mario Sagasser and his wife Doris
President of Germany's 100 Marathon Club Mario Sagasser and his wife Doris run along Marine Drive yesterday in preparation for Sunday's Mumbai Marathon. Pic/Syed Sameer Abedi.

14-year journey
The 49-year-old, who is the president of the 100 Marathon Club in Germany, will have achieved this feat in just 14 years (he ran his first marathon in his home town of Hamburg in 2000, where he finished with a timing of 4:13 minutes) — a whopping average of 29 marathons per year.

It’s a journey that has taken him to 40 different countries, and one that started because of his wife Doris, who herself is aiming to finish her 276th marathon this Sunday. Mario recalled the start. “I had just finished a 25-km race called the ‘Race in the Autumn’ and she was waiting for me at the finish line. When I met her, she said that there was a glow on me. She then suggested that I run the full marathon. Soon after that, I participated in my first marathon,” Mario told mid-day yesterday.

“At my second marathon in Berlin, she ran from checkpoint to checkpoint handing me water bottles and clicking pictures just as she did in the Hamburg Marathon. But because Berlin is a big city, she had to take the metro to travel between two checkpoints. In the end, it became more stressful for her than for me. At the finish line, she told me that from next time she would race with me. She ran her first race at the 2001 Hamburg Marathon,” Mario said with a broad grin.

Back in Germany, Mario is a mid-level executive with Deutsche Telekom AG (German Telecom), while Doris is a housewife, who takes care of their two teenage children. While this leaves both of them with limited time to train, they ensure they run for around 80 kms a week.

Birthday gift
This Mumbai Marathon, Mario said, is a gift for his wife, who celebrated her birthday on January 4. “Every year for her birthday, I gift her a voyage. This year, I’ve got her to Mumbai for the marathon,” said Mario, who will be accompanied by Indian origin businessman Hirendra Kurani, a member of the 100 Marathon Club and will be running in his 175th marathon on Sunday.

What is the 100 marathon club?

The 100 Marathon Club is a club for marathon and ultra marathon (races exceeding a full marathon distance of 42km) for runners in Germany, who have completed 100 marathons/ultra marathons. There are similar clubs across the world in countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Russia.

The German 100 Marathon Club has around 250 members. Although the members don’t meet regularly to train or practice as they are spread across the country, they get discounts on entry fees to participate in marathons.

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