Uttara Kannada is known as the land of rivers. Religious places, National Park, waterfalls, beaches and backwaters; there are many tourist attractions in this district in Karnataka.

Deepa was born in an agrarian family living in Siddapur, a village in this district. She studied in a government school. Any kind of sport didn’t ignite her interest. Being chubby, she often faced friendly banter from her classmates. After completing 10th grade, she moved to Sirsi to pursue intermediate studies.

In 2006, she came to Bangalore to study electrical engineering. But her financial constraints didn’t allow her to pursue any hobbies as she had to solely focus on studies to rise above the water.

The year 2010 brought a change in fortune as she secured a job at Tavant Technologies. She got a decent salary and the money brought freedom.

For the very first time in life, she thought of doing something apart from studies and work. She went for morning jogs to enjoy the beautiful weather of Bangalore. As she continued running, someone suggested that she should consider participating in an upcoming event.

She made her very first appearance in any running event during the 2011 edition of TCS 10K. She was elated after completing the run in 64 min.

Soon after this event, she joined aerobics and running took a backseat.

For the next 3 years, she made occasional appearances in events like TCS 10K, Kaveri Trail Marathon 10K and Ajmera Thump.

In 2014, she joined Wipro Running Club and went to Lalbagh over weekends for training.

Owing to her preparation, she secured first position in Spirit of Wipro Run 2014. Receiving the medal in front of thousands of people made her feel special. First time in life, she witnessed so many people celebrating her success and cheering for her. This particular moment proved to be transformational as it was about to shape the course of her life.

After three years of running 10K distance, she set her eye on the next milestone. That year she ran her first half marathon in the Bangalore Marathon 2014.

In 2015, she joined Reebok Running Squad and trained with coach Neera Katwal. She went to Kanteerava Stadium for four days a week. That’s where she got to learn the nuances of coaching. Couple of years later, she worked at Cult Fitness as a trainer and further fine tuned her coaching skills.

In the Bangalore Marathon held in Oct 2017, she secured 3rd position in the half marathon category. Having spent the last three years honing her coaching skills and improving her strength for running half marathons, she was now ready for the next big challenge of running a full marathon.

Exactly a year later, she was elated after covering the total distance of 42.2 KM. Officially she was now a Marathoner.

The year 2019 brought change in fortunes and set the tone for the next phase of her life.

On 19th Jan 2019, Suresh from Reebok Running Squad introduced her to Shreyas Karnad while having dinner in Mumbai. Shreyas is the founder of running group Runners 360. The very next day, thousands of runners participated in the iconic Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM). Post completion of the run, Deepa was looking for her friends from the Reebok squad but they were nowhere in sight. Shreyas had already finished his run and was waiting for his friends. Upon seeing Deepa, he offered her water and helped her to find members of her running group. They never met after that event.

In Nov 2019, Deepa started planning for next year’s Full Marathon. She prepared a plan, but wanted to get it reviewed from someone experienced. She remembered about Shreyas with whom she had interacted way back in January. She felt a bit awkward to approach him after such a long time. Nevertheless she didn’t know anyone else who could support her during that time. Finally when she mustered some courage to speak to Shreyas, he immediately helped to fine tune the plan. Soon after she started going to Kanteerava stadium regularly to run with Shreyas.

She performed superbly and clocked her personal best timing to finish TMM 2020 in 3:29:59. A month later, she finished the Delhi Marathon in 3:28:00.

On the onset of COVID in Mar 2020, the world came to a stand still. As people were struggling to find a way to keep the things on track, Shreyas started online ZOOM sessions to train runners of Runners360 club. Deepa joined as a strength and conditioning coach and started taking online sessions. She enjoyed her journey thoroughly.

Leaving a well paying corporate job to pursue your passion requires courage and immense self belief. Being a running coach demands plenty of physical and mental energy on a sustained basis. So it was going to be a tough decision to leave the job and move completely into coaching.

Her husband Ankit has been a great pillar of support since they got married in 2017. He helped Deepa in making that important career move.

Shreyas also gave her a lot of support to keep negativity at bay and choose a career that fills life with purpose.

So in June 2022, she took a leap of faith to leave job at Akamai and pursue her passion for coaching and running.

She continues to work as Strength and Conditioning Coach in Runners360 Running Club and ASICS Running Club. She trains more than 150 people ongoingly. Till date she has trained more than 250 people.

This year she participated in 3 world majors: Berlin Marathon, Boston Marathon and London Marathon. Running a full marathon takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Deepa ran the Boston and London Marathons on consecutive weeks that shows her ability to push the limits.

She is the brand ambassador for various running events across India.

She also has a keen interest in mountaineering. This year she ran in the Ladakh Marathon, the highest marathon in the world, held at a height of 11,500 feet. Right after completing the Ladakh Marathon, she went on a 10 day expedition climbing Kang Yatse 1 mountain at 21,000 ft. Upon reaching the peak, she did 10 push ups to commemorate the moment. Who in the world can think of celebrating this way?

Apart from her love for running and coaching, she is an animal lover. Cookie, the dog and Laila, the cat bring much joy to her life. Cookie’s sister Brownie died under unfortunate circumstances a few years ago. In the memory of Brownie, Deepa donates her prize money to dog shelters and dog feeders.

When she is gone, Deepa wants people to remember her as a friend, coach and cynophile.

The Gold Dust
1. Importance of building a foundation?
Deepa ran 10K for 3 years and 21K for another 3 years to build a solid foundation before attempting her first marathon. This has helped her to sustain peak performance over the years. She didn’t fade away like early morning dew with the onset of sunrise.

2. Magic of Focus and Consistency
It’s hard to believe that someone who didn’t have any inclination towards sports for most part of her life is now training more than 150 people simultaneously.

While the whole world may look at her through her achievements, the secret lies in the focus and consistency that she brings to the work every day.

3. Follow your heart
She donates all her prize money for a cause that’s very close to her heart.

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