Sprinting is a passion for this 10-year-old Madhya Pradesh boy whose mini-marathon run in his tattered flip-flops got him the fifth place.
Believe it! Vikas Thakur, a Class 4 student of Pachmarhi, is inspired by Odisha's wonder kid Budhia Singh whose breathless run to marathon fame at a young age is still shared among race lovers throughout the country.
On the hilly tracts of Pachmarhi, about 200 km from Bhopal, Vikas Thakur attracted many eyeballs during a 3.5 km mini-marathon organised by the Hoshangabad district administration as part of the ongoing Pachmarhi Mahotsav (festival).
Despite the extreme cold conditions, Thakur managed to finish fifth among the 30-odd children and senior citizens.
But, how did he get inspired by Budhia? Thakur said, "My father told me that a boy named Budhia Singh got fame by running a marathon when he was of my age. I did not have shoes, still I wanted to run."
Because, all you need is strong lungs and a spring in your feet to do that, he said. His passion for running shows a promise in him to win a full marathon hands down.
His father, Vishram Singh, who is a guard with the forest department, said Thakur used to run without any purpose. Just to instil discipline, his father told him to follow the example of Budhia and he began training himself thereafter - running for long hours, stopping to catch his breath and then going back to the tracks again.
The young boy wants to take part in more such events. But, he is not sure when he would get the chance again.
Nevertheless, he is not going to give up running. "Running is his favourite past time," said his family members.
Another shoe-less runner
Shobha Tiwari, 15, a state-level inter-school runner, also ran without shoes in the women's category of the marathon as her family cannot afford shoes for her. Her parents are road-side vendors.
Shobha, a Class 10 student of Government School in Pachmarhi told HT that in the inter-school events at the state-level she runs barefoot, but during Saturday's event, she decided to run in her sandals.