People spend their whole life not knowing what they want, says IRS Vijay Kumar Singh as he adds that he is lucky he isn’t one of them. “I know what I want and I will always follow my heart.” The Indian Revenue Service officer of the 2004 batch considers running his first love. What started as a practice to reduce weight became a lifelong habit and passion for Singh. His bucket list consists of participating in and finishing all major marathons of the world. So far, he has completed two Boston Marathons – the only civil servant to do so – and three of the six major international marathons. He ran at 14kmph speed for 185 minutes.
“To run you need junoon (passion). I get the same dopamine rush from running as others get from intoxicating substances! Running is addictive,” he says.
If asked to choose, he says the choice is clear. “Running is my main job and my passion, and I work for the Income Tax Department for my livelihood. If I get equal monetary benefits from running as I get from the I-T department; I won’t even take a minute to choose running and leave everything else.”
The Additional Commissioner with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Ahmedabad, has given up on several plum positions in the I-T department because he wanted to focus on running and fitness. “I don’t want to take a position that I can’t do justice to. The Income Tax department has been very cooperative and accommodating of my choices. They have always encouraged me and that’s the best thing about my work life.”
Singh, who has been posted with the Gujarat Income Tax department since May 2014, ran the 125th Boston on October 11 this year, completing the race in 3 hours, 5 minutes and eight seconds – improving by nine minutes on his 2016 Boston Marathon performance, when he was also the fastest Indian to complete the race.
Earlier, he had won the 42.2-km-long full marathon held at Leh in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir that saw the participation of as many as 5,800 runners from 29 nations. Singh could complete the race in just 3 hours, 50 minutes and 33 seconds. Among the other marathons that he participated in were Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, Bengaluru Marathon, Sabarmati Marathon and Goa River Marathon.
In 2009, the 48-year-old weighed 95 kg when his doctor advised him to take his health seriously and focus on losing weight. He began by running on a treadmill in Ranchi Club. Cut to 2016 and later in 2021, he became the first civil servant to finish the Boston Marathon twice.
He runs every single day but his only disappointment is: “Ahmedabad doesn’t have running tracks. All we have are roads full of traffic. Just a few months back when I was cycling on the road, I met with an accident and injured my hand. Running and cycling are two easy and effective ways of fitness but our city doesn’t accommodate it.”
“Life is a lot like running. At least once in your race you face a hill, it is better if you do so at the beginning of the race — at an early age in your life — otherwise, it gets tough. In running, we all have different finishing times but what matters the most is if we enjoy it. I’m sure I’m having a great ride!”