Pune has started appearing on the global ‘running’ map what with health conscious people and corporates focusing their collective energies to stage interesting events. Marathons, half marathons, weekend runs, charity runs- it’s all happening.
But here’s something that should get the spot lights on city-based runners: Pune-based scientist, Dr Anoop Mahajan, will be running 1800 kilometres from Allahabad to Shillong in October to help raise funds for education. He will be running as part of Samantha Gash’s #RunIndia initiative.
“I have done quite a few charity runs and fitness runs in Pune. But Samantha’s #RunIndia initiative gives me an opportunity to run for a much broader cause, and since she’s doing it for education in India, it’s even closer to the heart,” says Anoop.
Dr Anoop is a Punekar who spent a decade abroad for study and work and then in 2012 decided to return home for good. “The main reason for coming back, aside from family, was to be able to do something good for a country that is magical, a country that touches your heart but a country that still has several problems and needs people to help solve them.”
An environmental scientist with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Anoop is training as hard as his schedule permits. “I am training of course since I have never done such a distance before. And Sam’s schedule is to run 50 kilometres a day, but if I do less, lime 30-35 km I will still be satisfied and run at that pace. I am not worried since Samantha and her team know what they are doing and it gives me confidence. Samantha and her team will begin their run from Jaisalmer around August 22, and I will join her on October 4 in Allahabad till Shillong. My country is beautiful and this event gives me an opportunity to explore different parts of India and contribute to a greater cause.”
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#RunIndia is the latest initiative from Samantha Gash, an Australian Endurance Athlete and Social Entrepreneur. As an Endurance Athlete, she was the first female (and youngest person) to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam in one calendar year (that’s Four 250kms marathons in deserts of Chile, China, Sahara and Antarctica). Since then she’s run 379km solo across the Simpson Desert in Australia, and 250km in Nepal, among many other notable achievements.
Now, she’s all set to run 3800 km from Jaisalmer to Shillong. Why? That’s where the social entrepreneur part comes in. Samantha is co-Founder of Freedom Runners and supports and patronises several charitable initiatives. Her #RunIndia initiative is aimed at raising funds for children’s education.
“Samantha is running to raise money for World Vision India, which has been doing fantastic work to improve the access to, and the quality of, education in rural India. Apart from running, she and the team will be visiting several secluded communities, visiting World Vision India projects and raising money for expanding their activities.”
A thinker, writer, and mountain-walker, Sanjay Mukherjee is a Pune-based business consultant. He is currently Chief Strategic Advisor for the Hong Kong-based learning technology company, Peak Pacific Limited).