Opinion
7 Mar 2019 06:31pm

Tales from the frontline: Piyush Gudka

Chartered accountant and consultant Piyush Gudka runs his 100th marathon in Cyprus this month, but he says his greatest personal achievement is motivating and training other runners to help them complete 26.2 miles and raise money for charity

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Caption: Photography by David Vintiner

I did my studying up to O-Level in Mombasa, Kenya, then went to Bristol where I did my A-Levels. When I was born, Kenya was a British colony, so Ive always had a British passport.

I qualified in London at Knox Cropper. I enjoyed it but it was tough commuting, working and then studying at what was then one of the best training schools, the London School of Accountancy, in the evening.

My parents couldnt afford to send me to university so I chose a profession where I could get a good qualification that would be worth it at the end. I used to enjoy the management aspect of the work, talking through the accounts, what it meant, how it could help them move forward.

The add-on rather than just recording the figures. PCs were just coming in and Id always been interested in computers so I took to the technology readily. Although it was the early days of spreadsheets and so on, I could see where it could lead, that it could take out the day-to-day drudgery if it was programmed properly.

Funnily enough, todays accounting packages were the result of programming it properly they do more than just recording and number-crunching. I started my own practice in 1985 providing services to clients not just in accounting but also automation.

I was a management consultant with a handful of clients, which was worthwhile because they were high-paying. In 1989 I merged with a good friend and we doubled the size of our practice in two years. There was just the two of us, we didnt take on any more partners, but there came a point when we realised that the way legislation was moving we would need one partner on compliance, one on taxation and one on technology.

Because we couldnt do it justice, we decided to sell the general bread and butter practice arm and I carried on with consultancy. Ive worked as a consultant for KPMG, Santander and EE, always on the technology side. I helped KPMG develop an accounts preparation software package and some tax technology.

In the early 1990s I was working with Adrian Jones, the then-group FD of Belron International (parent of Autoglass), which had an office in Old Deer Park in Richmond.

He and some colleagues used to go out for a lunchtime run, so one day I joined him. We ended up doing about five miles and I was exhausted. When he encouraged me to aim for a marathon I thought, Im not a longdistance runner, not an endurance person. But he convinced me and I completed the London Marathon in April 1994.

It was the coldest ever London Marathon, I was freezing, and although I finished in pretty good time I said, never again. But at the runners reception for Childline, the charity I ran for, Esther Rantzen drew my name in a prize draw and it was a trip to New York to do the marathon.

It was its 25th anniversary, I couldnt miss it, and because of New York I carried on. This month I reach a century. The only reason I reached 100 marathons is because I started training people for distance running and I managed to get a good contact in the London Marathon, meaning I could train them, provide an entry so they could raise funds, and run the distance with them.

I tell people my biggest achievement is training, inspiring, and motivating so many other people. When you train for a marathon there is the physical side of it. I have a schedule from October to December, then from January to marathon day.

Its flexible, you have to adapt it according to your lifestyle. The second area is nutrition and the third is psychological. People say, I never knew how mentally strong I was. But youve always been strong, the only thing I do is bring that strength to the surface.

I'm nothing more than a catalyst. Ive covered all six continents, around 30 countries. London has probably got the best finish in the world, in front of Buckingham Palace. One of the best backdrops Ive seen is Table Mountain in Cape Town. And the most challenging was the Laugavegur ultra marathon in Iceland.

You run through everything: volcanic ash, ice cold rivers, snow, mud, you even climb over rocks. We were blown away by the superb scenery, although we did it the hard way! The 100th marathon is in Pathos. I chose Cyprus because Ive got about 50 people coming, some of the people Ive trained and family.

If Id chosen London very few would have had the chance to run because of the ballot entry its pot luck. This one they can run and have their own sense of achievement.

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