by Pramod K. Chaudhari
THEY came, they saw and they conquered the world with their indomitable will. These brave souls on wheelchair impressed everybody, including yours truly, who had come to participate in the Delhi Half Marathon. Life itself is a marathon for the uniquely abled.
Like last year this year also, I spread word among my lifelong friend and marathoner O.P. Raheja to join feet. He was only too willing. We started practising for the endurance run almost two months before the big day. On the D-day we made tracks for the place where the marathon was to be run.
All the world and his wife seemed to be there. It was a different starry world. Many celebrities from Bollywood graced the occasion. Adding to the star appeal were Rahul Bose, Ajay Devgan, Kapil Dev and Olympian Vijender Kumar. Kareena Kapoor was the cynosure of all eyes.
Some were there for money, some for a cause and some just for fun. Two of our younger friends — Sandeep and Puneet — were there just for fun though they completed the race quite fast.
Braving the slight chill, over 25,000 turned up for the run. It was a riot of colours as runners, including a blind man, raced together to make the event a never-to-be-forgotten experience.
The cross section of participants was mind-boggling. From a runner dressed as soldier to male models promoting a product to senior citizens with walking sticks in their hands. It was indeed unity in diversity.
As we started and ran for nearly 12 km, I got somewhat tired and slowed down. My fellow-marathoner OP asked me the reason. I pointed towards a roadside board which bore the message, “Go slow, work in progress.” We had a hearty laugh.
Again after a while, he saw a traffic cop and advised me, “Don’t stop. He will challan you.” Though tired we soldiered on, joking on the way to laugh away our tiredness.
I saw many runners in colourful costumes. Some were wearing the masks of lions, bears and other animals.
I saw a runner on skates to boot, holding a long flute in his hands and skating away to glory. There was a girl running bare-foot.
After running for more than two hours, I became marathon-weary and chanted ‘Hey Ram’, ‘Hey Ram’. As I said it a couple of times, a fellow-marathoner mouthed, “Aapki Ramlila ab tak khatm nahin hui” (your Ramlila has not ended so far). He seemed to be the same old guy who thus greeted me last year. Auld lang syne!
On the way there were girls and boys dancing on stage set after distance of about five km. Their dance with pop music in the background was quite rejuvenating.
Irrespective of my failing energy, I kept running as the game was worth the candle. I cherish its memory throughout the year. Only one km was left. Waving and smiling I ran, to the claps and cheers of onlookers and finished the run.
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