Stuart Horsewood. The name itself reveals a strong personality. Stuart like in stalwart, and horsewood when broken up into horse and wood, signifies speed and solidity, respectively. And if that were not enough...

By Duane Fonseca (Staff Reporter)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 31 Dec 2004, 5:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM

this 56-year-old Standard Chartered CEO has recently braved the most hostile of political situations, to set up banks in both war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. Want more toughness and determination? Horsewood is a true 'Marathon Man'. He's got 32 — finished — marathons to his credit already and plans on adding a lot more. "Some are ultra marathons, where the distance can actually touch up to 100 km," he says, after arriving in the city for the Dubai Marathon.

In fact, Horsewood runs a marathon every week 'at home' in Afghanistan, where he is currently based. "The weather is kind of harsh and polluted and most of the time there's a lot of dust in the air, which is why I usually run at home." By 'run' he actually means running. "I run around the house in an 8 formation. Behind the TV, across, and round a few tables. It's a 16 second lap and the reason I run an 8 is because if I were running any other way, I could end up straining my muscles."

But what makes a 'Home Marathon'? "I was told by a few friends that running outdoors regularly in Afghanistan could lead to bronchitis and other breathing related diseases and I, frankly, didn't want to get into all that. But at the same time, I also loved running and I would never stop it. So I decided to start running at home. On weekdays I usually run for about half an hour and I increase the time until I get to 4-5 hours on the weekend. I actually do a distance which would equal a marathon on weekends," he says, as if ready to spring out from his seat. Horsewood has put himself through the paces — at home — for the past 9 years and today, he says, "I am celebrating the ninth anniversary."

Horsewood has even formed a Standard Chartered Afghanistan team which participates in the 'Greatest Race on Earth', an event sponsored by the bank and run over legs — Nairobi, Singapore, Mumbai and Hong Kong. "Nairobi was quite tedious because it's situated at such an altitude and then it goes up and down. But it was great fun because it gave me a chance to help a few wheelchair participants. In Singapore, the temperature were soaring and the humidity was at a full 100 per cent. Runners were collapsing by the numbers and were lining the side of the path, but I continued because of a few goals I have always kept in my mind. It's all in the head and I say it's 90 per cent mental preparation and 10 per cent of actual physical training. You must believe you can do it first, the just rest follows."

A good mantra to follow, this seems to have worked for Horsewood in almost all fields — professional and personal. His workday begins at 8:00am and ends a good 13 hours later at 9:00pm. "Running helps my body immensely, which in turn helps me at work. It gives me the physical stamina and mental readiness I require because of the long hours I put in. I try to be an example for my staff to follow by encouraging them all the time and telling them never to give up. Nothing is impossible if you really want it badly. My body enjoys running and I like stressing my body. I take care of it and it takes care of me. I know my body well because I've been running virtually all my life."

Horsewood began training at 13 and by 16, he was already doing 50 mile races. He took his running shoes with him after moving overseas at the age of 21. Now 35 years later, and thanks to a whole lot of job engagegments in different parts of the world, Horsewood can boast of having run in 18 countries around the world. Conversely, though, he chooses to keep a low profile. Soft-spoken at most times and bursting with excitement, especially when talking about his favourite topic of running, Horsewood has succeeded in gaining a kind of celebrity status in the field, which as he makes it sound is highly uncompetitive. Famous for his 8 formation back home in England, and now in Dubai, Horsewood actually draws a cartload of 1,500 people, who in some way or the other are visually impaired, when his feet get moving.

Charity and the 1,500 people, who he is able to help through the amount he's generated thus far, give him all the adrenaline he needs to pile in the miles. "The very fact that so many people will gain from me running drives me on. I never feel like giving up because I know I am doing it for someone whose sight is about to be restored." By being the marathoner he is, Horsewood has earned $45,000 for 'Seeing is Believing' — the charity through which Standard Chartered hopes to restore the sight of upto a million people. Apart from helping people see, Horsewood imparts his reading acquired knowledge to people, who, like him, are interested in going the distance. "When I was based in Kuala Lumpur, I got around teaching a lot of people and kids how to best use their resources when running a marathon. I think it is very important to give back what you get."

For the 42km Dubai Marathon, which he will take on next Friday, Horsewood plans to stock the little pouch which he usually straps around his waist with Jelly Babies and raisins. "They provide a lot of energy, which is really required during races," he says, adding, "drinking a lot of water prevents the muscles from getting cramps so that's really good. I usually stuff myself with carbohydrates and the same would apply for other people taking part in the event."

Apart from taking care of his diet, Horsewood reads a lot about running marathons. He seems to be the right kind of person you'd want to consult before taking part in a race. However, he advises everyone taking part to concentrate and, like him, set their eyes on the finish.

For a man, who has run seven marathons in seven countries in the last seven months, the completion of the Dubai Marathon in seven days time will change all the above figures to eight.

Stuart Horsewood can be reached at stuart.horsewood@ae.standardchartered.com

More news from