New Delhi: Aiming to change the perception about running in the country, NewsX and Pro Sportify is organising ‘The Great India Run'. The first multi-city ultra marathon will see 12 elite marathoners traversing through six states and cover a distance of 1,480 kms from Delhi to Mumbai in 21 days.
The event will be flagged off at the capital's iconic India Gate on July 17th and conclude at Mumbai's Gateway of India on August 6.
Conceptualised by ProSportify, which was behind the Pro Wrestling League, the event is backed by celebrity runner and former supermodel Milind Soman, who, at 50, successfully completed the Ironman Triathlon -- one of the world's most toughest races -- in Zurich, and actor Gul Panag.
The cross-country run will witness 12 Indian and international runners set a new record for the fastest time, covering a distance of 1,480 kms. The inaugural edition of the run will see athletes Arun Bhardwaj, Mathias Jorgensen, Siddharth Choudhary, David Slotsgaard Bredo, Yuri Esperson, Lisa Stoddart, Meenal Sukhija, Satish Gujaran, Ranjana Deopa, Naresh Bharadwaj, Dinesh Heda and Joginder Chandna, participating.
Here is the brief profile of runners
Pia Hansson, Naestved, Denmark
150 marathons and 2 ultra-marathons in a year, that’s a commendable achievement for any long distance runner, and this one in particular belongs to this Pia Hansson from Denmark. A teacher by profession is a self-confessed sporty person who loves many sports including cycling, horse riding and taekwondo.
Ranjana Deopa, New Delhi
The only woman competitor at the 76k Garhwal Runs, Ranjana has been quite active in the Indian running scene. The founder of the West Delhi Runners, she got into running simply as an alternative to the gym. 5 years and thousands of miles later, she is absolutely mad about it. Along with her husband, she is also a tri-athlete. An entrepreneur by trade, she & husband were awarded the ‘Runner of the Year- Power Couple’ within NCR. She also won Delhi’s first triathlon in 2016, subsequently qualifying for the Ultra-Competitive La Ultra 111k. A mother of two, she credits running to a wholesale positive change in her life.
Shweta Sharma, New Delhi
Breaking stereotypes is what Shweta Sharma seems to have set out to do. A businesswoman, blogger, traveller, wife and mother and an MPhil in Chemistry this 34-year-old Delhi resident epitomizes the modern Indian woman. Initiated into the running through a friend for fitness purpose, it was Shweta’s self-motivation that took her to the next level in the sport.
Meenal Kotak, New Delhi
Meenal Sukhija, a CA by profession, began running sometimes in the latter half of 2013 and within a short time completed her first Half Marathon in sub-two hours! That thrilled her to push for more and catapulted her to a podium finish in another few months’ time.
She was destined for more and pretty soon she was running her first Full Marathon in 2014 in the sultry weather of Hyderabad. But she wasn't content as it was becoming all too simple! She set out to challenge herself in the 50km terrain of the Bhatti mines in Delhi in late 2014, which needless to say she had a podium finish. While she was clueless on how to take her passion forward, she met Arun Bhardwaj, the Ultra man of India, in whom she saw a mentor. He motivated her to leap forward into a different league.
Arun Bhardwaj, New Delhi
Fathers often undertake gruelling activities for the sake of their children and Arun Bhardwaj is no different. While he started running to set a positive example for his children, today he’s hooked onto the sport.
As of today, a national record holder, his commitment to running is pretty evident by the fact that he runs to and from work and even during lunch. It is this hard work and unadulterated dedication to his passion, which has seen him run over 9,500 Km in races across 13 countries in the world.
David Bredo, Copenhagen, Denmark
For 21-year-old David Bredo, taking on to Running was just the quick fix to hone his soccer skills in this fast paced life, especially when you are a student planning to graduate in business management. But for this young Danish runner, who is currently pursuing his business degree at the Copenhagen Business School, it was a pleasant realization soon after that it was not soccer, but long distance running where his calling lay. David is also the youngest runner in the world to have completed more than 100 marathons in a calendar year so far.
Kaushal Kumar Chauhan, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Kaushal started running from 29th September 2012, his first marathon was Bengaluru midnight marathon 2012 where he clocked 5:16:32, 2nd marathon Running and living Corbett marathon 2014 where he was a winner with 3:10:16. His 3rd marathon was dream runner half marathon 2014 and he was 8th with 1:29:34. 4th was 110k in JAISALMER to longewala victory run 2014 which he finished in 13hr. his 5th marathon was SCMM 2015 where he was 11th with 3:02:23. 6th was 24hr stadium run Bengaluru 2015 where he participated in a 12hr relay, their overall team finished 3rd and 1st in mixed category. 7th marathon was Millennium city Marathon in 2015 where he won with 2:50:51. 8th marathon was ADHM 2015 where he was 11th with 1:18:15. 9th was SCMM in 2016 where he was 59th with 3:18:47.
Dhanee Kumar, Anjar, Gujarat
While marathons are dubbed as an indulgence of the elite, Dhanee begs to differ. Hailing from a humble farming background, Dhanee is a self-motivated champion. With an unmatchable passion for the sport, the exceptional runner has an impressive list of accolades to his name. The 29 year old has won 100km ‘Ultra by Zendurance’ in Ladakh, the 100km ‘Run the Rann’ in Kutch, the 160km ‘Globeracers Ultra’ in the Rann of Kutch, and the 160km ‘Run the Rann’. The runner still continues to train without a coach, and it is pure talent and hard work that has brought him to where he is today. Dhanee is looking forward to ‘The Great India Run’ and hopes to add another feather to his cap at this multi city marathon ahead of the much-awaited Rio Olympics 2016.
Dinesh Heda, Goa
On an ordinary day, it’s the numbers that are on his fingertips but long dwindling running tracks that are on his mind. Dinesh Heda, a Chartered Accountant only started running to get his family away from the idiot box. He has since run 36 full, half and ultra marathons with a 24 hour marathon boxed in as well. He describes running as his meditation and along with his coach Daniel Vaz, takes a sizeable chunk out of his week to do justice to his passion. A role model to his children, he exemplifies the fitness conscious modern Indian society.
Joginder Chandna, New Delhi
‘When there is a will, there is a way’ – that’s an old adage that Delhi resident Joginder Chandna swears by heart on a daily basis.
A recreational runner throughout his life, he switched over to competitive running only a few years back and has never looked back since. He finished at the 4th place at the ‘IDBI New Delhi Marathon’, and First runner up in Senior Category and Second Runners Up in Open Category at the ‘Performax Bangalore 24 hours Ultra marathon’. Commodore Joginder Chandna most recently completed 10 marathons in 10 days between the 25th of March and the 3rd of April in support of providing nutrition for hungry children at the ‘Our Miles Their Smiles, Each One Feed One’ Run.
Satish Gujaran, Udupi, Karnataka
Running is the cure to many ailments whether physical or mental and 52 year old Satish Gujaran took to running to get rid of his smoking habit. Little did this Udupi resident know, that he would soon become one of the most respected long distance runners in India. A runner since 2004, he’s come a long way from being a recreational runner to a serious long distance runner. He has so far participated in 6 ‘Comrades Runs’- the toughest Ultras in the world apart from 12 Ultra Marathons, 18 marathons and 20 half marathons.
Naresh Kumar Bhardwaj, New Delhi
A track and field champion in his college days, Naresh Kumar Bhardwaj initially started out as a long jumper but the demands of the society led him to leave sports and pursue his professional career. For eight years this track & field athlete did nothing but his regular job, and then he decided to return to his passion and has since never looked back. As a professional, he takes a few hours out of his day regularly to train and to keep his body in a competitive state. Mad about sports in general, he has observed the positive impact of running in other sports as well.
Sunil Sharma, Chandigarh
Bollywood does play a positive role in our lives, and for some like Sunil Sharma it definitely plays a life changing role. Inspired by the movie ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, Sunil picked up running just a few years back. It was his determination, rock solid motivation and hard work that Sunil not only continued running religiously, but today is a reputed Ultra Marathoner. The category winner at the Chandigarh leg of the Devil’s Circuit, Sunil has run mostly for causes. The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Run’ from Chandigarh to Delhi being the first where he completed 250km in 39 hours! He’s also run the ‘Save Forest Save Lakes’ run with 127 km in 13 hours 55 minutes and ran from Solan to Renuka in 10 hours. The experienced runner, however, laments the lack of funds and education related to sport available in India and is looking forward to ‘The Great India Run’ to be held later this year ahead of the much awaited Rio Olympics 2016.