Daniel ‘Zico’ Vaz, CEO of Batliboi Textile Air Engineering Group in Mumbai and skilled marathon runner, believes in going the whole nine yards in every aspect of his life.
No one forgets their first marathon. And, distance runner by dawn and CEO by day, Daniel Vaz still vividly remembers his first tryst with the sport. “I ran my first marathon in Goa when the Salgaokar Sports Club held one in the January of 2002. There were only 27 runners, mostly elites, and I was the only recreational runner. Of the 12 runners who finished the 42.195 km distance, I was the twelfth. I got a special applause as I entered the enclosure at Vasco Municipal Corporation where the prize distribution was just about done,” recollected Vaz with a smile. Fast forward ten years, Vaz is now counted among the most skilled veteran marathon runners in the country. What’s more, for the past three years, he has been a coach at the Nike Run Club- training runners with customised programs and is a certified fitness professional from the American Council on exercise, with other accompanying certifications for sports conditioning, athletic nutrition and core training.
But if his passion is all about body mechanics, Vaz’s day job is rooted in fluid mechanics. He is a CEO at Batliboi, where he looks after a strategic business unit. The company, founded in 1892, has spearheaded technological change in manufacturing, engineering, contracting and marketing, and is engineer and contractor for major turnkey projects, in India and overseas. Its operations are in Machine Tools, Industrial Machinery, Environmental Engineering, Textile Engineering and Air-conditioning and Refrigeration. “My work involves looking after the entire gamut of manufacturing, marketing, projects, design, service and finance. Ours is a niche area of atmosphere conditioning,” explained Vaz, “It all started when, after my graduation as an Aeronautical Engineer, I decided to work in the private sector on fluid mechanics. I progressed from doing work in design and development and finally moved on to Business Development.”
Running itself happened quite by chance when a friend asked him to join him at the 1995 Pune International Marathon. “We ended up walk-running up to 22k, and it was such a thrill that I decided that I’d like to do the entire distance without walking. Marathon running gives me a chance to test my endurance limits in racing a daunting distance. It requires me to just wear a pair of shoes and step out the door in almost any place in the world.” And does being a runner help in the professional sphere? “Well, running helps you understand goals, work towards it and achieve it. Besides, it affords you a supreme level of fitness and is a great stress-buster.”
But juggling job and passion can be a pain in all the wrong places. “I travel almost every week and have to make time for my workouts, personal commitments, professional duties and then out to train at the NRC on weekends.” Vaz takes his role as marathon coach at the Nike Run Club seriously. “It is quite a responsibility since I deal with recreational runners who are regular working people. I have to be able to devise training schedules and deal with runners who’re always in a hurry to achieve their goals. Injuries are a reality too and it is part of my job to reduce the number of them. That is the skill and worth of my credentials as a coach.”
And what are his plans for the future? “Professionally, I am focussed on expanding the product basket in my SBU. On the running front, I intend to focus on acquiring credentials that are advanced in the area of human kinetics with a focus on special populations, and designing exercise programs for older participants and those with coronary heart disease, hypertension or arthritis. Of course, meanwhile I will rack up the marathons.”
My best marathon:
It was the 2008 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (Asia’s largest and richest marathon), where I did a time of 3:57:12 and was ranked fifth in the Veterans Category.
Running in other countries:
I have run marathons in Berlin, Wurzburg, Lausanne and Istanbul. Berlin was an experience, with 42,000 runners at the start- Haile Gebraselassie broke the world record that day.
My inspiration as far as marathons are concerned is Grete Waitz- the Norwegian school teacher who went on to win the NY Marathon nine times. I read about her in Readers’ Digest when I’d just got into distance running.
I like reading detective / spy novels and listening to jazz.
Run to the finish:
There is no age limit to running, as shown by Fauja Singh who holds the record for completing a marathon in the age group 90 – 94 yrs. As for me, I’d like to run as long as I enjoy it.