It was in August 2015 that I started with a 10km run one Sunday morning with a running group. The pain of the run was exhilarating when I realized I had surprised myself by completing 10km. The weekly affair culminated into running 12km while on holiday at Sikkim too and then 17km in Kolkata. A few days post the 17km run was the Airtel Run For Education half marathon and I decided to do a 21km run. I had no idea what a half or full marathon distance was as I was only aware of 5km runs in the city marathons.
I didn’t know too many people in running and was quiet then even though I was part of a running group. So I ran on my own with some company I found on the way till 14km which was a big blessing. I stopped for 30 seconds and then was left to run the rest of the distance on my own, more so since this was my first proper marathon and I didn’t know the roads in Salt Lake where the race was being held. With the help of volunteers directing me in the right direction each time, I made it to the finish like in 2:17minutes. Of course, I had no idea that timing was a big thing or that there was a cut off time. I just thought I had to finish the race. Yes!And I didn’t know that there was a finisher’s medal or trophy that a participant got post completing the race.
When I got the finisher’s trophy that year, I realized that running a half marathon was also quite a big deal and just because it was termed as ‘half’ didn’t mean it was not big. How many people in this country actually do run in a billion plus population? I went on to complete 7 half marathon, 4 10 km runs and 3 full marathons across the country in 2 years and I can only dream of doing more marathons in the years to come.
My first full marathon was in July 2016 in Sohra Cherrapunji, one of the toughest marathons. This was reason enough to make me realize that it is not about the fear of path we take, but the fear of ourselves that can only stop us. So nothing can stop me from running more races across the country when people around me think I have definitely gone mad. But there is happiness in that madness that makes me want to love myself more when I challenge myself on the roads I run. It is also a challenge to take time from my work as a broadcast journalist and go for my long runs.
Every year I look forward to the Airtel Run For Education in Kolkata and have been participating in the event since 2015. It has given Kolkata a reason to prepare well and come out to run and get the finisher’s medal which motivates them further to believe in the power that lies within them to make a change in their lives, the power to give fitness a chance to make their lives better. For people in Salt Lake and Rajarhat area, which is far from the heart of Kolkata, it is a great opportunity to experience a run once a year without much hassle of traveling to the venue. The Airtel promo runs on Sundays are also a reason for people in the area to come out to practice for the main event which promises to be a great event yet again!