“The human spirit is indomitable. No one can ever say you must not run faster than this or jump higher than that. There will never be a time when the human spirit will not be able to better existing records.” – Sir Roger Bannister.
This was amply demonstrated recently by three Pinkathon Ambassadors – Sharmila Munj, Aparna Bhingarkar D’souza and Sonia Kulkarni. All three are women in their forties with growing kids, juggling the duties of home and office and at the same time trying to find time for themselves to stay fit and healthy. A few months ago these spunky ladies resolved to run from Mumbai to Pune – a distance of approximately 160 km, in 3 days.
In the recent past too, many Pinkathon Ambassadors have undertaken Inter-City Runs. These include Giridhar Kamat, Jayarman Rankawat, Inderpal Khalsa, Sandeep Raj, Kunalmeida Rawat and the only woman Runner so far, who has done more than one Run, Spoorthi Seetama Muruvanda, who along with Jayraman, Inderpal and Sandeep undertook the grueling non-stop Jaipur to Delhi Run, just prior to the Delhi Pinkathon in the beginning of September.
Inspired by the feats of these runners and of course by the Man behind Pinkathon –Milind Soman who is constantly raising the bar both for himself and others, this awesome Trio decided to push themselves beyond their limits and take the plunge. Soon after that training started in earnest, supervised by Milind himself. The Run was planned to coincide with the upcoming Pune Pinkathon scheduled for 13th November and the three set off on 9th November, so that they could reach Pune by 11th and be well in time to participate in the Pune Pinkathon.
Of the three, while Aparna Bhingarkar D’souza went strong and finished quite comfortably and Sonia Kulkarni came a close second, it was Sharmila Munj who won everyone’s hearts with her dogged determination to finish the Run, inspite of a broken toenail, painful blisters on the feet and a pulled thigh muscle. Nothing deterred this brave lady and where others would have given up and called it a day, not Sharmila. She hobbled painfully to the bitter end, till the Run was over. A true fighter and Pinkathon Warrior! Her tears, as she hugged her young daughter, who was waiting for her at the Finishing Line are testimony to the Agony and Ecstasy of finally completing the Run against all odds.
Milind Soman, the main Motivator and Inspiration behind the Mumbai-Pune Run congratulated the Awesome Threesome on Facebook with his characteristic pizzazz: “Aaaand DONE !!!! 150+ km from Mumbai to Pune in a 3-day mind exploding, life changing, all around INSPIRING effort and experience for these 3 brave Ambassadors of Pinkathon ! Take a good look at yourself people, it’s time to bring out the HERO inside !! Aparna, Sonia and Sharmila have shown us how it’s done in style.”
By the time this article is published, thousands of Pune women have already participated in the Pinkathon Run which took place at Pashan on 13th morning and which was a fabulous success, as always, with amazing weather and high-octane energy. All the 3 women were felicitated with a Plaque in front of a 6,500 strong crowd of women who will go home with wonderful memories and promises to themselves to look after their health and fitness and that of their families.
For finally that is what Pinkathon is all about – It is not just a yearly All-Women Run, it is a Movement to empower ladies to lead fitter, healthier and more active lives and to create Breast-Cancer Awareness. It is the seed of change which is carried forward by a growing community of empowered women across India, who share a belief that a healthy family, a healthy nation and a healthy world begins with empowered women. And once you are part of it, you are hooked for life.
The Pune Pinkathon will be followed by the one in Vizag on 20th November, before which one more intrepid lady, Pinkathon Ambassador Neillima Pudota, has already started running from Vijaywada to Vizag from 12th November to promote the Pinkathon message of women’s health and fitness. Neillima will be covering 348 kms over a period of 7 days. Neillima isn’t really a Runner; she has the distinction of being the first woman from Andhra Pradesh to have scaled 8650 metres of Mount Everest earlier this year, apart from being an accomplished Bharat Natyam Dancer and Carnatic Music Vocalist. This is the first solo inter-city run by a female Pinkathon Ambassador.
The final and biggest Pinkathon Run in Mumbai on 18th December (in which more than 10,000 women are expected to run), will finally bring the Pinkathon Calendar to a close. And so it goes on – another city, another Run and more and more Pinkathon Ambassadors pushing their limits in a bid to inspire and motivate their fellow Pink Sisters to lead healthier lives. Long Live Pinkathon!