September 11th,2016

There are times when you run for your personal best, probably a podium finish or on a tough terrain to move out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do something remarkable. However there are instances when you set aside your personal aspirations and decide to make a difference with your strides, where you end up learning something that humbles you as a person.

The Bhumi India run held at Bandra Fort this morning was one such event which was devoid of any timing chip and runners came together to run for a cause- raising funds for supporting education for underprivileged kids. When runner friend Bhavana Diyora invited me to be a part of this run, I gladly obliged. Incidentally, it also turned out to be an educational experience for me as a runner and a person.

It was a 10 k run and I had decided to go easy on this one, considering that I had been racing non-stop for the last 4 weekends.  The route took us through the scenic side of carter road, where we were treated to a splendid sight of the rocks and the pristine blue Arabian Sea on the left. On the right, we passed the luxurious Taj Lands end Hotel and super star Shahrukh Khan’s bungalow called Mannat usually thronged by the fans of the actor. It reminded me of the movie ‘Fan’ which I had recently watched on television. However not being a ‘jabra fan’, I didn’t care to stop to spread my arms and gaze in a starry eyed manner at this mansion.  I chose to focus on my strides instead.

It was a similar route of the IDBI federal Mumbai half marathon promo run which was held sometime in April this year. It brought back some fun memories as I recollected those friendly shouts to fellow runners across the road. The Bhumi India run had volunteers present at every nook and corner. They guided runners on the right track, clapping, cheering and ensuring that the vehicles do not cross our paths. There was a certain amount of traffic that morning due to the Mount Mary fair that was being held. Aid stations serving water and Tata Gluco plus were present at frequent intervals along with the photographers who were there to click our photos.

Now every time I decide to take a run easy, be it a race or a practice run, my mind is free from the pressure of timing which compels me to push whenever I felt like it. So after a while, I decided to increase my pace. The course consisted of a few inclines and there was one steep one at the 5 km mark. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed running up this slope, quite contradictory to my usual response towards hills where my eyes would widen with terror. Like a child playing on a seesaw, I smiled as I went up and down these inclines.

On the way back, I waved at some familiar faces and continued the strides. As we neared the 9th km mark, we were blessed with heavy showers, drenching us to the hilt.  The wet clothes weighed us down but not our spirits as we sprinted towards the finish line with the Garmin showing 57 minutes.  I was eager to go catch up with my runner friends and waited impatiently for the rains to subside. After collecting the medal, I met several of them and posed for the customary clicks which I usually term as ‘memoirs of the race euphoria’ i.e. memories of a good time at any event.  We collected our breakfast in a box which comprised of samosas and gulab jamuns, along with a packet of chips.

We headed towards the stage, from where we could catch the magnificent view of the Bandra-Worli sea link.  Some announcements were made and I soon turned my attention towards the dais as I recognised runner friend cum MRR admin cum an amazing writer-Bijay Nair’s voice on the mike. Listening to his journey was inspiring as he talked about his astounding transformation from being an overweight person to a fit runner that he is today. Also being from the naval forces, his speech held pride as he spoke about his upcoming book ‘#They INSpire’ where’INS’ depicted a tribute to the navy. The book consisted of enthralling stories of several runners who had battled against several odds in order to achieve the impossible which constituted their respectable position in the runners’ community today.

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After this, the stage made way for yet another awe inspiring runner-Satish Gujaran who is a 7 time comrades finisher. Comrades  is a race held at South Africa every year in the month of May and a test of human endurance where one was required to complete 89 km within 12 hours.

I had met Satish several times and found him to be a humble person despite his extraordinary achievements. I listened to him intently while he was narrating his transitional journey from being a chain smoker who could barely run 500 m to now a runner who runs a whopping distance of 89 km every year in South Africa.  He recommended the step by step approach for a runner while making a transition from a 5k to an ultra-runner and also stressed about respecting one’s body by doing the necessary medical check-ups on a regular basis.

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He went on to narrate a solemn experience of his friend-a runner from China who was extremely fit and yet met with a tragic end post a run.  In relation to this, he talked about the importance of knowing the art of dealing with emergency situations when a runner falls unconscious or when his/her heart beat stops. He also mentioned the importance of wearing a wrist band which carries one’s blood group and emergency number to be contacted during such grave instances.  As he concluded on a light note, I processed all that I had learnt post this event.

I have always believed that every run was a learning experience and a test of our physical and mental abilities. However the learning that I imbibed from the Bhumi India run was an enriching one with the speeches deeply ingrained in my mind as I came out as a wiser soul.

Incidentally this run was to promote education for the underprivileged section of the society and yet I realised how privileged I was to have educated myself this morning. No doubt the saying goes that learning indeed is a continuous process.

Thank you Bhavana for inviting me to be a part of this run, Bijay and Satish for your inspiring and informative speeches, volunteers for doing a commendable job and photographers for making our runs memorable.