CHENNAI: City marathoner Sandeep Raj was on his feet for an entire week, running from Bengaluru to Chennai to raise awareness about breast cancer and women’s health. For 34-year-old Sandeep, who runs 50 km five days a week, it might seem that running 350 km is doable. But the fitness enthusiast says, “It was a challenging task and not everyone can pull it off.”
Back from his week-long haul, running along the Bengaluru-Chennai highway, Sandeep says that it was a humbling experience. “It has made me calmer, more focused and helped me build a positive outlook towards life. It has helped me grow as a person,” he says.
The Spirit of a Pinkathon Run to Chennai was flagged off on May 29 at Sree Kanteraava Stadium, Bengaluru. From curious onlookers inquiring about their feat to an invitation to high tea with the Governor of Tamil Nadu, K Rosaiah, it was an overwhelming experience, adds Sandeep.
“The idea was to spread awareness about breast cancer and also to encourage more women to adopt a fitter lifestyle for themselves and their families. This is also the motive of Pinkathon,” informs Sandeep, who, along with two other runners, Spoorthi Seethamma and Kunalmeida Rawat, from Bengaluru and Chennai respectively, ran to Chennai from Bengaluru.
“It started off with casual conversations when Spoorthi said she would like to run from Chennai to Bengaluru. It would have been too far for me from Hyderabad. I wanted to join her and we did it, for a cause,” explains Sandeep who trained for 15 days prior to the actual run. “We generally do a recce, a trial run covering all the aspects, from locating places to eateries and stop points. But we couldn’t. So, I did a trial on my own,” shares Sandeep.
He started with 10.5 km in the morning and then the same in the evening. “That helped me develop confidence. Four days later, I started running 21 km and eventually, I ran 50 km. I started at 4.30 am and ran upto 2 pm. I took enough breaks and the recorded run time was 7 hrs and 52 mins,” he recalls.
And all this with regular home-cooked food! “I knew we wouldn’t get great food on our actual run,” he reflects. Then came May 29. Though the trio took slightly longer on the first day, they managed to reach their set goal through the rest of the week. “When the run was flagged off, a lot of runners and ambassadors joined us. So we covered the first 20 km in two hours. We stopped many times so the day was longer,” explains Sandeep.
So on the second day, the trio ran for 5 km at a stretch and then took a break. Their day began at 3.30 am, and after they had freshened up, they set off at the point where they stopped the previous day to restart the run.
“We had a car following us with its head lights on because the sun would be out only by 6.15 am. We would run with the lights as our guide,” Sandeep tells us.
The car also housed all their supplies — water, fruits etc. They would stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “We followed people’s advice. There was nothing on the highway. One day, we had to travel 18 km after the run to find a decent place to crash. The places where we stayed too were all lodges.
Another challenge was that we were running from Bengaluru, which is above sea level to Chennai, which is at the sea level. We were running through the hills. It was beautiful,” he smiles. Co-founder of Pinkathon and model, Milind Soman joined the trio on the final day and he ran the entire stretch of 60 km.
18-km Search for Stay
Though the trio took slightly longer on the first day, they managed to reach their set goal through the rest of the week. When the run was flagged off, a lot of runners and ambassadors joined them. So they covered the first 20 km in two hours. A car followed them that housed all supplies. They stopped for lunch, dinner and night stay. One day, they had to travel 18 km after the run to find a decent place to crash