An accomplished researcher, Gowtham (34), who adheres to a south Indian tradition of using a single name, is a research scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor of physics at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan. His interests include photography and exploring wilderness and natural beauty. He makes the 6-plus hour drive from Michigan's Upper Penninsula (informally known in the Upper Midwest as the "Yoop") to Madison to run the Madison Marathon with friends. Focal Flame Photography, the official event photography service provider for the 2014 Madison Marathon events, asked him about why he runs.
Focal Flame Photography: How many Madison Marathons have you run?
Gowtham: 1 in November 2013
FFP: How many total marathons or half marathons have you run?
Gowtham: 3 so far
FFP: Do you participate in other similar events?
Gowtham: I am slowly training toward my first triathlon in 2015.
Gowtham's Personal Story
FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Gowtham: The feeling of community and belonging to one, even though I might not be living in it on a daily basis. It's a very humbling experience to see unselfish support from people I have never seen before and/or might never see again.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why do you participate in the Madison Marathon? What makes it special?
Gowtham: I have many friends from Michigan Tech that are either from Green Bay, Madison, or the Milwaukee area or have moved there since their graduation, and I don't to get to see them as often as I would like. The decision to participate in Madison Marathon was based on wanting to visit and spend some quality time with them.
What makes the overall experience special is the overall ambiance and atmosphere of the event. It is, the first of my 'big city' races and the biggest of the races I have either volunteered or participated in. The awesomeness of the course that winds through friendly residential and scenic areas alike, and the support I receive from the volunteers, aid stations, police officers, and people who make fantastic signs to cheer racers on makes this the most memorable half marathon event outside the "Yoop."
FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Gowtham: Most of my races have been with friends. For Madison Marathon 2013, we were a group of five friends varying in experience from novice to experienced half marathon, triathlon, and IronMan competitors. Other friends cooked for us the night before and seemed to be present with their cheerful faces at every major turn. Running and being with them helps me bond and learn more about them.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Gowtham: It's money well spent and an experience one cannot easily forget. I have done one other big city half marathon with even more registered racers but it wouldn't even hold a candle to Madison Marathon's finish area experience. The Madison Marathon is something I will never forget – crossing the finish line, I felt like a hero in the ancient Roman Colosseum (even at shabby 2 hour 43 minutes).
FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that you would like to share?
Gowtham: I am very passionate about my work and devote insanely long hours to it but I am grateful to the friends I have who share their knowledge and expertise and make me a better person overall. I want to get better as a runner. Running has certainly changed my life and life style -- helping me learn more about myself and everyone around me.
- article by Deborah Proctor
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon Event May 24-25 and/or November 9, 2014. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.