Monday, January 13, 2014

My first brush with running for a cause

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Dawn to Dusk marathon 2014 at the IIT campus in Chennai. It was an event organized with a lot of passion by the folks at Neville Endeavors who were ably assisted by the volunteers of the Chennai Trekking Club, with the proceeds from the event going to the ‘Bal Sanjeevani’ project for the treatment of cerebral palsy.

The event was a hugely successful one in terms of participation. The event, first organized in 2011 with 600 participants, had seen the participant count shoot up to 6000 in just its third year. That is quite an achievement. The organizers must have done a fabulous job of promoting this event. The event was not lacking in celeb quotient either. Former tennis players Vijay Amritraj and Anand Amritraj and actors Karthi Sivakumar and Arvind Swamy flagged off the event. It was heartening to see so many people, both young and old, and belonging to different walks of society, eschewing sleep in favor of fitness and turn up at the IIT campus on a lazy Sunday morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a good turn out for a non-cricketing event in a cricket crazy city like Chennai.

Personally, it was a wonderful experience for me. I’d always wanted to have a taste of long distance running but had never really attempted it before. So, when this opportunity came my way, I took it with both hands. I initially thought of taking part in the 10 km course, but eventually registered for the 21 km course since most of my colleagues were enrolled in that category.

I hardly had any practice going into this run, so I kept my expectations very low. My sole objective was to complete the distance without dropping out midway through. I initially started off with slow jogging and alternated it with brisk walking. Around the 10 km mark, I started getting blisters at the sole of my feet, so I cut down on the running, and walked the rest of the course.  I managed to reach the finishing line in just over 3 hours’ time.

I’d never run or walked such long distances before so it was a tiring experience, to say the least. Towards the end of my run, I could barely walk, as my knees, calf muscles and thigh muscles were in a lot of pain. The blisters on the feet were not helping either. But it didn’t matter, as the experience of taking part in a half-marathon was something to savor. Whenever I felt like taking a break, the motivational cheers by the volunteers kept me going. It felt good when I finally crossed the finishing line!

So my first half marathon went on well without any hiccups. As I clutched my participant’s medal on my way back home, the words of the event host kept coming back to me - “nobody goes home a loser today”. She was right. At the Dawn to Dusk marathon, everybody was a winner.