With November about to arrive, the capital will be gripped by marathon fever. The Salwan Marathon will be run on the eighth day of the month, with close to 28,000 kids set to participate on a 3km to 8km stretch in the Cantonment area.
This time the children will take heart in the fact that at least six Olympians will cheer them on during the cross-country run.
"I don't believe in celebrities," said Inder Dutt Salwan, trustee of the Salwan Education Trust that organises the annual marathon. "I think sports should be promoted only by sportspersons, without any sort of tamasha."
The 15th edition — to be conducted in association with Hindustan Times — will also involve the participation of almost 6,000 children from other cities. "Our aim is to encourage kids to reunite the student community throughout the country," Dutt said.
"We will have some Olympians to motivate the children during the event," said Manisha Malhotra of Mittal Champions Trust that's supporting the race this year.
Providing a wholly different aspect to the event, the marathon is also run by visually impaired children, volunteers help all of whom along the way. With 10 visually challenged girls running for the first time in the 2000 race, their numbers have now swelled and almost 850 such children are expected this time around.
Recollecting the first Salwan Marathon that was run in 1994, Dutt said that only 300 children took part in a race that was run around Rajendra Nagar on a shoestring budget of Rs 2,500. After the numbers of participants kept increasing every passing, the venue was shifted. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium hosted the subsequent events, which was fast gathering momentum and being run with a renewed vigour.
Dutt explained how students from Pakistan had also taken part in the marathon merely three months after the 1999 Kargil war. "There is nothing like sport to reunite people," he said, with a hint of pride in his voice.