Thursday, November 13, 2008

Running in India

When I set foot in India, there were big questions on my other passion - running. I was not sure if I would find space and time to indulge in it. Its been an exciting four years until then. Looks like you will find a way out if you really want something :) - So, in this fifth year with running and Team Asha not a lot has changed - I am back home! We had a nice turnout for Team Asha , Bangalore this year. I am helping the team with coaching aspects. Running in India and especially long distance running is not as popular as in the US. But, every year sees a lot more people get their shoes out and ditch a sedentary life.

We have a team blog where we post our running experiences and also our trips to Asha supported efforts. One really nice experience was our trip to Thulir. It was an amazing learning experience. One nice experience we had was interacting with the children and getting them to run with us. Here is my take on what Running means to education -

I personally believe that long distance running teaches a lot, in terms of foundational attitudes in life such as patience, learning from mistakes, being determined and spirited in spite of challenges, learning how to organize, team work and to understand how sometimes your mind and passion can overcome physical tiredness. But, the most important aspect is that running increases confidence and self esteem. In many schools in the rural area of Dharmapuri, the educational system sends the wrong message to the children – that they are dumb, and cannot achieve. The formal education system is breaking down the confidence of these children. The key is to help the children realize that they have skills and talent in many aspects. Running could provide an exposure to discover latent talents. We believe that Team Asha can help the kids with some basics on running, an activity which most of the children would be able to do, and help them discover their potential. It brings confidence and self esteem that will reflect in the other aspects of their lives too.

This initiative would take Team Asha beyond just running and into the realms where running in itself becomes education.

We had one of the kids from Thulir train remotely and finish a marathon with us! We would call him every week, go over schedules and any questions etc. When in Thulir, I ran with him and went over many basics. The kid has enormous potential and passion. The kid was actually on course to get a placing in the run! He had a wonderful time and is now interested in getting more kids to train with him. I have been in touch with him and we are all hoping to make it a constructive effort to get more kids do what they like.

The running bug bit my family too and they are into this big time now! My parents, brother and sis-in-law completed their first half marathon in style and are planning to do one more in February. Now, I don't have any concerns about my family being worried for my sanity and health :) - They are crazy too!

Team Asha meanwhile is going places. All our runners put on an amazing show under really gruesome weather conditions at the Kaveri Trail Marathon. Here is a brief account of what they did.

This weekend many folks in the team will show up for the Bangalore Ultra. I am sure they will put up another amazing performance and would do their bit to help the underprivileged in India.

This weekend, I will be doing a 24 hour run at the Bangalore Ultra to raise funds for Asha Bangalore. My family - mom, dad, bro, sis-in-law and me have a team page and we plan to raise at least Rs.3 Lakhs ($7,000) through our efforts this year. Please do DONATE generously.

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