For five months, naval commander Abhilash Tomy, 36, had no human contact. Alone on an expedition to sail around the world, Tomy circumnavigated the globe from November 2012 until March 2013. “It was brutal. I hit storms almost every week, and at one point I had only one bucket of drinking and cooking water for 20 days,” said Tomy. “But it was wonderful.”
Like Tomy, a growing number of Mumbaiites are taking up large-scale, long-distance solo sports challenges — not necessarily for a cause, but for the adrenaline rush and fitness. As Mumbai gears for the marathon, these champions say you don’t have to run to meet milestones and that any challenge you set yourself can expand your boundaries.
For 45-year-old interior designer Vistasp Kharas, it was paragliding, a hobby he took up at the age of 40. “The sport gave me a second lease of life. I was going through a phase of depression and midlife crisis when my brother signed us up for the lessons,” he said.
In April 2014, Kharas, now vice-president of the Paragliding Association of India (western region), took a solo flight across 120 km in the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, flying from Bir to Dharamasala and back — six hours of non-stop flying.
Kaustubh Khade, a 27-year-old product manager, is all set to kayak from Mumbai to Goa in February to spread awareness about the sport. “I will kayak for about five hours a day for 20 days. I’m undergoing intensive endurance training right now for core fitness,” he said.
Khade has also partnered with Magic Bus, an NGO that formulates sports-based curricula for the underprivileged, so his voyage will help raise funds for a good cause.
Delhi-based Rahul Kumawat, a 26-year-old design engineer, also took up a cause along with a challenge — cycling through 10 cities across north India. He has raised close to Rs 12 lakh for various causes.
(With inputs from Nisha Shroff)