Publisher:Serene Publishers

Price: Rs 150

“Let’s race Daddy! – The title immediately caught my attention. It was a post shared by a fellow runner on the Mumbai Road runners’ Facebook page.  I glanced at the book cover with interest. It was an image of a father-daughter duo running side by side wearing toothy grins on their faces. This reminded me of the father-daughter bond that my 2 and a half year old daughter – Samara shared with her father cum my husband and running partner Amit.  Now being an avid reader and runner, books especially those related to running instantly caught my fancy. The book ordered through Amazon was delivered within a few days.

I scanned through the pages curiously and the first chapter had me hooked straightaway. It turned out to be marathon journey, where a run ends only at the finish line and in this case, I put the book down only after finishing the last chapter.

The author namely Soham Shukla traces his running journey from his childhood days in Palanpur where a great amount of emphasis was placed on his athletic training. A sudden demise in the family caused a changeover as his energies were focused solely on his career, leading to a sedentary lifestyle in the process. It was post the birth of his daughter Rene that made him revive his athletic abilities to stay fit in order to match his toddler’s energy levels. Thus began his journey as a runner commencing from the Bangalore 10k run in 2008.

The author’s first run is vividly described and gives one the feeling of having run the entire course with him.  The gradual transition from a 10k to half marathoner to a marathoner and ultimately to an ultra-runner carries the honest feelings that he undergoes at every kilometre mark. The tumultuous journey is interspersed with undying enthusiasm, will power, perseverance, a dose of humour especially while describing the Hyderabad flyover marathon where the author  jokingly asks a cyclist at the 12 km mark if he would get a lift.

The love for the Mumbai Marathon is clearly visible as the author describes the energetic vibes that the city of Mumbai offers during the D day. From a raw runner with no Garmin, science and pre social media days, he transforms into one that talks about aspects like ‘hitting a wall’ and refers to the 35th km mark at Pedder road as the ‘heartbreak hill’ of the Boston Marathon.

Recently diagnosed with a debilitating health condition, he has one longing dream-to run the 2025 edition of the Mumbai marathon with his daughter Renee who will turn 18 by then. He ends his book with a visualizing and imaginative image of reaching the finish line with his daughter in tow. Only time will tell if his dream will materialize into reality. As the saying goes “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, it leaves the readers hoping the best for him.

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It’s an endearing journey that will resonate very well with runners of varied categories-beginner, amateur and the elite. If you are a runner, run to the nearest store and pick up a copy of this 90 page book and if you are not, this read will make you warm up to those miles in due course of time.

It is said in the runners language that “when you cannot run with your legs, run with your heart”.  ‘Let’s race Daddy!’ is penned straight from the heart which is what makes it a heart-warming read.