Sitting in her boutique, she designed the most beautiful dresses for her clients. But unfortunately, she didn’t fit in any of them. Her husband never complained about her obesity, but she knew, deep in her heart, that he deserved better.
“When I went to the gym for the first time, I didn’t fit in one of the machines and hurt my knee. I thought I was going to quit,” says Apeksha Shah. But she didn’t, and in two years she would achieve something incredible — lose a staggering 60 kgs under her personal trainer, Mahesh Kadam. But then, her best was yet to come.
“Initially, when I lost weight, people in my community noticed and their responses were very positive. That pushed me to continue,” she recalls. Apeksha was talking about the Vagad community — a Jain-Gujarati fraternity — where she would find a mentor in Dhiraj Dhedhia, an avid marathon runner. He would then track her progress and later sign her up for a 10km community run in 2015. She would finish second in her debut race and has never looked back ever since.
In 2015, the 35-year-old ran a half marathon, a full marathon and even a 100 km race. Though the marathons were a commendable feat in Apeksha’s journey, it’s the 100 kms that still gets her teary-eyed. “It was the Bhatti Trails in New Delhi. I took around 17 hours and 45 mins. I think that’s when I realised I am more than just a wife or a mother,” she explains.
Like many, it’s more than just the effort that has taken Apeksha beyond the finish line. And she isn’t shy to admit it. “Hard work is necessary, but one should have the courage to attempt these runs,” she says.
“Before I could attempt the full run at the Mumbai Marathon in 2016, I remember my husband asking me not to rush into full marathons. But then I was like, ‘Agar nahin hoga to wapas aajaungi, tum kaunsa mujhe ghar se nikal donge,” she laughs.
If this a story of unparalleled grit and commitment from Apeksha, it is also a story of sheer love and support from her husband — Viral. “He’s been a constant source of encouragement. He loves going to these running events. Even though he doesn’t run much, he likes the event,” she says.“He was there when I finished the Mumbai Marathon. That was the most beautiful feeling in the world. I thank God that I was fat. I learned that you need to treat your body like a temple. And that’s my goal.” Apeksha is also setting the right example for her 10-year-old daughter, Hasti who also seems to have picked up a bit of running. She has done a few mini marathons with her champion mother along with her side.
Last year, Apeksha finished second in a 24 hours stadium run covering 129.2 km.
Last year she also attempted at her first 100 mile — The Run of Kutch — but failed to complete the race due to blisters. But that hasn’t affected her desire to achieve more. Apeksha, who currently deals in corporate gifting, says she wants to run at least three 100-mile races a year and aims to complete the Badwater race — the toughest foot race in the world.