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Nasrulla Ahmed, Maldives' icon in long-distance running

Ahmed Aiham
16 January 2019, MVT 13:21
Long distance Marathon runner Nasrulla Ahmed pictured during his run. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/NASRULLA AHMED
Ahmed Aiham
16 January 2019, MVT 13:21

When it comes to the discipline of long distance running in Maldives, there is none quite like the exemplary athlete, Nasrulla Ahmed.

The 37-year-old from Fares, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, has participated in 34 marathons, thus holding the record of most marathons contested by a Maldivian.

The 13 marathons Nasrulla ran in 2018 stands as a testament to his unparalleled prowess.

Nasrulla's timings at International Marathons in 2018;

1) 3:15:03 2) 3:32:07 3) 3:19:01 4) 3:56:05 5) 3:22:00 6) 3:37:06 7) 3: 32:45 8) 3:23:06 9) 3:25:03 10) 3:42:02 11) 3:30:42 12) 3:43:01 13) 3:31:44

Completing a 42km run in the span of four hours is no easy task, a truth that becomes even more apparent when compared with the results of marathons held in Maldives.

There are less than five athletes who managed a timing of four hours or faster during marathons such as those held by Total Fitness Grop (TfG) in capital Male, Addu City and Laamu Atoll.

With such an incredible display of skill and stamina, does Nasrulla deserve anything but praise?

A single race securing his path

The Staff Sergeant at Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) started running in early 2000, when he participated in a 5km long distance run.

Managing to secure a third-place finish in the last 400 metres of the race, it bolstered his interest to pursue running.

Nasrulla completed his first-ever marathon in 2008 without any specialized training in long distance running. Yet, he still made the stunning accomplishment​ in less than four hours.

The results were proof for coaches and spectators alike of his natural talent.

Marathon runner Nasrulla Ahmed takes part in an international marathon. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/NASRULLA AHMED

Since his first podium finish, running has become an integral part of Nasrulla's life. Despite his busy schedule, Nasrulla can often be witnessed running somewhere around in Male'.

With such high regard for the sport, being the record holder for most marathons ran by a local is not enough for the 37-year-old.

Nasrulla has since set out personal targets to complete each marathon in good timing.

His goal for 2018 was ensuring that he takes no more than four hours to complete his marathon runs.

Nasrulla has become a prime example of an athlete with unwavering discipline, as he regularly participates in his training exercises.

"..finishing so many marathons before a time of four hours is a heavy load on your body", said Nasrulla. He stressed that one must pay special attention to practising, eating, and observe healthy sleeping patterns in preparation for long-distance​ running.

A sponsorship from Coca-Cola provided Nasrulla with the opportunity to participate in six marathons the previous year. The remaining seven marathons he participated in was financed through his own pocket, along with the help of well-wishing donors from his friends and family.

His employer is also one of the main pillars of support for Nasrulla's athletic career. MNDF has cleared him from his duties in order to allow Nasrulla to participate in the training programmes he started in 2017.

Long distance Marathon runner Nasrulla Ahmed trains in Kathmandu, Nepal. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/NASRULLA AHMED

Personal goals beyond the national record

According to Nasrulla, simply achieving the record is not enough to meet his personal goals. He dreams of establishing a regional record with the help of a new sponsor, after which Nasrulla declared that he would vie​ for the Asian record.

Nasrulla stated that it was difficult to find sponsors in Maldives. "Other countries pay a lot of attention. If you're attempting to make a record, there are many companies willing to help in those countries".

"I can guarantee that I am capable of achieving these goals. I just need​ people to acknowledge it."

Nasrulla has contested in marathons hosted by countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Bangalore, Sri Lanka, Australia, Malaysia, Bhutan and Germany.

Nasrulla stated that he is motivated by the support he receives from the audiences at these events. Speaking about his experience, he shared his appreciation for spectators at major events, where they would congratulate his achievements. "People give great applause at the moment you receive your medal after the race."

Nasrulla aims to complete 30 marathons before a set time of four hours in 2019. He is confident of his capability to finish 65 marathons a year if he manages to achieve the goals set for 2019.

A large amount of support in the form of sponsors is needed to fulfil Nasrulla's big aspirations.

"What I'm trying to do is bring a good name to Maldives on my level", said Nasrulla, whose great ambitions include setting an international record in the future.

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