India's grand old marathon man Ashis Roy is nearing his goal of a century of runs as he finished his 97th race here in the largest marathon in the United States that does not offer prize money to the winners.
Down with bronchitis and an upset stomach, a less than fit Roy bravely carried on to finish the 26.2 mile run here Sunday in six hours and 41 minutes - about three minutes more than his previous slowest of 6 hours 37 minutes 49 seconds in the Niagara marathon last June.
Dubbed the 'people's marathon,' the Marine Corps Marathon attracted 38,500 runners, 8000 of them running their first marathon, but only 21,000 completed the course running through the heart of Washington D.C., past many of the city's historic landmarks.
Many celebrities and politicians have run the fifth largest marathon in the US in previous years, including popular TV show anchor Oprah Winfrey, former vice president Al Gore, a 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Roy was a bit disappointed as he had hoped to better his timing of six hours and 25 minutes in the Baltimore marathon, formally known as the Running Festival only a fortnight back.
But the response from the crowd and fellow runners was no less enthusiastic. Many stopped as they passed the 77-year old runner with 'Dr Roy born 1932' printed on his shirt.
'You are an amazing person; a great example to the young,' some said as they shook hands with him. Others clapped and cheered Roy along the route and at the finishing line at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Virginia.
The seasoned marathoner would be competing in one more marathon in the US, the Harrisburg marathon on Nov 8, before returning to India for his 13th run this year and topping it off with his 100th marathon in Mumbai on Jan 17, 2010.
Roy, who is listed in the Limca Book of Records and has, to date, competed in 20 countries outside India, including the International Veterans Marathon in Athens in 1986, has run ten marathons this year, two in India, six in the US and two in Canada.
Roy, a resident of New Delhi, began running marathons at the age of 52 when he retired as a cardiologist working with the Indian Air Force. He has also penned a self-published book called the 'Joy of Running'.