PROFILE OF THE YEAR
By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
He has no formal training, or coach. Nor does he have any lengthy experience in running. But his dream was to run in the New York Marathon. He believed in himself and it made the difference.
Rajesh Mahadeo finished his first New York Marathon in November 2019. It was tough, as all Marathons are, but Rajesh was not going to allow twenty-six miles to stand in his way to glory. How did an ordinary person, with no formal experience, complete one of the most grueling tasks in sport?
Rajesh was born in Big Biaboo in Mahaica Creek, in Guyana. His mom is Leena and his dad is Harry Mahadeo. Rajesh is the youngest of four siblings. He attended Biaboo Primary School and then Bygeval Government School where his favorite subject was Math. The teachers, Abdool Baksh, Surujpaul Rampersaud, Nancoo and others, were most helpful.
In May 1998, Rajesh left for New York. He stayed with his brother Rohan and his wife Beena, in Richmond Hill. After a number of jobs, Rajesh joined the MTA and he has been there ever since. How did his interest in running start? Rajesh says that, ‘I was never an athlete in school but one afternoon I took the family to a vegetarian restaurant in Queens. On the door was an advertisement for a 5,000 meters race. I thought that it was something I could do.’
Rajesh registered and competed in the race. It was in May 2017. This prompted him to sign up for other races. As he continued to do well, Rajesh began to set his sights on the New York Marathon. He had to run in nine qualifying races, plus one volunteer race, before he could sign up. These were not easy as he had no coach, was on no special diet, and he had a family and a job that kept him busy.
Rajesh completed his ten races and was now eligible to run in the New York Marathon. This race is the biggest in the world with participants from 129 countries. It occurs on the first Sunday of November and the 2019 Marathon had 53, 518 runners. There were only four Guyanese and Rajesh was one of them.
He said, ‘I prepared my mind but like a kid going to a candy store, I couldn’t sleep.’ He picked up his gears at the Jacob Javits Center and found his name on the wall. The big day duly came; Rajesh left home at five in the morning and soon he was at the starting point in Staten Island. The race would last over four hours.
Rajesh ran across the Verrazano Bridge and then entered the main course. The thousands lining the roads with music, liquids and encouragement spurred him on but he felt the pain at 24 miles. He had never been this far. He could walk to the line and finish but then a voice said to him, ‘you must run. This is why you trained so hard.’
Rajesh built up courage and speed. It was mind over matter. In his exhaustion, he saw the finish line and he kept running until he braced the tape. Rajesh completed his first Marathon in style. He took four hours, ten minutes and nineteen seconds and he was 19, 448 in the race, and he will do better next year. Rajesh has made his beautiful wife Amrita and his wonderful daughter Amisha, and his community proud. Rajesh thanks his family, his parents Harry and Leena, and his big brother Rohan and his wife Beena for their inspiration, love and support.
He says that he can’t see life without running and plans to run other Marathons. Rajesh has shown grit, determination and courage as he followed his dream. He has made his family and community proud while he remains smiling, helpful, and humble. We are equally proud of Rajesh Mahadeo and take pleasure in naming him as our PROFILE OF THE YEAR 2019.
Congratulations and best wishes.