Budhia ran 65 kilometres to make it to the headlines. Mrityunjay, a seven-year-old from Orissa’s Berhampur district, thought he could do better and decided to run 80 kilometres. On Sunday, he ran with the media tailing him, hoping his feat would be beamed live across the country. He collapsed, 10 kilometres before his target but not before beating Budhia’s record.
Although Mrityunjay alias Akash Padmacharan Mandal says he came to Mumbai from Orissa to "spread the message of peace in the trouble-torn city", it is the media attention that seems to have attracted him to the city. "In Mumbai, you get national coverage and a better audience," said Mihir Kotecha, an official of the Rastriya Oriya Pratisthan, who organised the event.
Mrityunjay's run began at 4.35 a.m. from Durgadi fort in Kalyan and was to conclude at Gateway of India. But he collapsed near Kemp's Corner just when somebody said he had already run 70 km.
Recuperating at GT Hospital, Mrityunjay said, "I have run longer distance before but that was never recorded. So I wanted to make this official." He will be kept under observation till Monday. "He has recovered well. He was dehydrated and just needed intravenous fluids," said a doctor.
His father Padmacharan Mandal said, "Mrityunjay runs 20 km daily. He wants to run for the country at the Asian and Olympic Games," he added.
Earlier, four-year-old Budhia's long-distance running had kicked off a controversy. Budhia, who ran 65 km in seven hours on May 2 in Orissa, was banned from long-distance running following a medical report that said that the boy was "undernourished, anaemic and under cardiological stress."