While most enthusiasts will tie their cholis and pick up dandiya sticks this Navratri, Swetha Amit will tie up her shoelaces and pick up her pace instead. The 35-year-old marathoner and journalist with an online business magazine is one of a few hundred casual and seasoned runners joining the NavRun, a fun event that encourages people to put a fitness spin on Navratri.
NavRun, now in its third edition, is open to runners around the world. Participants run 9km on each of the nine days leading up to Dusshera, wearing the nine colours associated with each day of the festival. Many do this as a group, at parks or gyms, or solo on neighbourhood streets. They upload their pictures to the NavRun event page on the MumbaiRoadRunners account on Facebook, using encouragement from fellow runners and motivation from strangers to keep going.
“We’ve had people of all shapes and structures,” says Bijay Nair, a former lieutenant commander with the navy, who organises the event. “Runners from age 28 to 74 have joined, and people have participated from the US, UK, Dubai and even Brazil.”
Nair connects other festivals with running too. On Christmas, it’s a 25km run; on Independence Day you’re free to run 15km or more. For Ganeshotsav, Mumbaiites simply had to run from their homes to Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi. The NavRun, however, gets the most participants.
Amit did her first NavRun last year. “People celebrate Navratri by fasting and dancing,” she says. “But for me, fitness is a religion, it was a great way to mark the festival.” The best part about NavRun, she says, is the lack of judgement. “You set your pace, your location and you run for fun. And Jai mata watches over every step of the way.”