Women inspiring women to run
This lovely guest post is by one of my running girlfriends Mousumee Mishra. We ran the “Shed it” Run together a couple of months ago.
Mousumee shares here the story of the first ever Pinkathon run in the eastern state of Odisha, and she tells it with her usual verve and enthusiasm.
I can almost hear her happy laughter 🙂
“Pinkathon Day is celebrated on the 21st of October. It is India’s biggest women’s run founded by Milind Soman and Reema Sanghavi, & was created with the objective of spreading awareness about women’s health related issues like breast cancer. Through the Pinkathon we encourage women to adopt health and fitness in their daily lifestyles by means of running. The Pinkathon, organized by the United Sisters Foundation, is conceived as more than just a running event & the purpose of the run is to use community running as a tool, to empower and enable thousands of women across India to bring positive physical change into their lives.
Our body is perfected over millions of years to perform endurance exercise in fairly warm conditions. Running helps to better your own fitness levels. Training the body to push past the “I need to stop” thought truly helped many runners to build an indomitable level of determination across all spheres in their life. Running brings positive change in my mental and physical state of being. I’d heard about Pinkathon for 4 years and how Milind was able to make a fitness goal for women across states to have healthier women at all households. As I was scrolling through the website of Pinkathon day, I was curious to know who the Ambassador for my hometown, Bhubaneswar was.
There was no name!
The reason why I chose to lead the Pinkathon day in Bhubaneswar is that my roots belong here, with the city. I want to make a difference in my hometown. I want to make running as a lifestyle choice for them, just didn’t have the right platform or partner to demonstrate that.
“Why do you run?” is the question asked by every non-runner.
I don’t have an answer for them. And I have stopped asking myself this question. The night before any run I imagine myself balancing some insane amount of energy and strength on the road in my running gear, and then there is no looking back when the alarm rings.
For any event to be successful , we need like-minded leaders to hold hands and share the load of organizing such event which was first of its kind in the city. Through Milind and his core team of Sharmila and Vaishnavi I got introduced to two of my co-leads, Indira and Biswanath, both runners and who had the same goal in minds. Objective was set, we are going to organize a run for women health awareness. It would be a 5km run, with online registrations of them and a few men volunteers for this event.
But here was the twist, neither Indira nor I was in Bhubaneswar to ensure seamless execution. Through the Pinkathon Whatsapp group, we were guided and given instructions at every step in our journey. Bhubaneswar got a slot a week before the closing date. And boom we had close to 200 registrations. Long story short , we managed the first step.
Biswanath conducted weekly runs for the enthusiastic participants and we encouraged many of them to start practicing. As Team Bhubaneswar started gearing up for the run, so did the monsoons and the Durga puja preparation in the city. Durga puja festival is the time of the year where the whole city is united to celebrate Maa Durga’s nine avatars with pomp and show. Amongst the beautifully lit pandals and street food, the training runs were conducted.
Finally the D day arrived with loads of pre preparation anxiety.
Our volunteers and Ambassadors had reached the venue at 5am. We stuck with our race plan with directional signage made by participant’s children and special kids from Hopes and Smiles. We placed the volunteers with medical kit and kilometre boards and instructed all to follow the same. All the volunteers were trained properly with their respective responsibilities.
We started with few minutes of warm up session and as all started running it was an empowering experience to see that. We saw the light chatty runners, the speedster runners, the mother kid duo run, the ex-veteran athlete runners. Most of them felt really relaxed. We let them do what they are comfortable with and we wanted all to have fun. I saw many women sharing fitness coaching ideas and bonding camaraderie and seeking help to reach each other’s training goals. And for a few, the blissful solitude of running alone and soaking all energy.
One of the great things about running is the freedom to do it wherever and whenever you like.
My parents stood like a strong pillar, not only in supporting but by participating and push and ensuring this event was executed properly. They are always an integral part in my fitness journey to ensure I can juggle it in between home and work and get enough recovery.
For the first time in Bhubaneswar history, 150+ women joined hands together with few generous men to run the PINKATHON DAY.
I could pat myself on the back, after seeing the perfect execution of the plan and the floods of posts in digital and print media about happy runners. Thanking the media who ensured our goal fitness reached each household.
Next year we will make it bigger, and ensure more people are on the street running for fitness.”
Well done, my friend, for being instrumental in launching such a great fitness initiative and I wish you and the great ladies and girls of Odisha good luck for all future events 🙂