Mukesh Rawat may be an unknown name, but the Uttarakhand Police runner portrays the tale of athletes at the grassroots level.
With meagre resources at his disposal, the influx of money in the road-race circuit has not only helped him survive but live a decent life. The small rewards earned through pounding his way through the streets have not only contributed to the family's scanty financial resources but fueled his passion for running.
"I am thankful to God for supporting me," Rawat said after winning the 10,000m and 5,000m double at the All India Police Meet on Wednesday.
He began competing in prize money races two years ago, and the first cheque of Rs 31,000 came in a 15km race at Nainital.
"The money gave me a chance to better my diet," he said.
Over the past two years, a major chunk of his earnings have gone into supporting his family of four (two younger sisters, a teenaged brother and mother).
His father passed away in 2006. What remained was pumped into the sport.
"Running isn't cheap these days. Even a pair of shoes cost a huge amount," said the 24-year-old, referring to the money he has spent on training gear.
A hard upbringing went a long way in shaping his career. Growing up in a village near Mussoorie, where walking is the only way out, armed him to withstand the rigours of distance running.
"Walking in the hills proved to be a blessing in disguise," he said on breaking into the top-six in 10,000m.
The opportunity to represent his college at the national level proved to be Godsend. He didn't make it to the podium but it aroused the passion for running.
"I was lucky to attend the college team trials," he said, recalling that fateful day in 2007.
Otherwise, he could have ended up doing small jobs in the village.
The breakthrough moment came in 2010 when he won two medals, one of them gold, in distance races at the Inter-Varsity meet. This also earned him a job in the state police.