Soldierathon: When the nation ran for the glory of the armed forces
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Soldierathon: When the nation ran for the glory of the armed forces

Last Sunday, the Capital witnessed an outpour of love and adulation for the men and women in uniform, as runners from across the country participated in the first edition of Soldierathon.

delhi Updated: Mar 12, 2018 17:23 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Soldierathon,Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium,Mohammad Kaif
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir greets the attendees at the first edition of Soldierathon, organised to honour the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers.

With echoes of ‘Jai Hind’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, coupled with an indomitable spirit to honour those who have sacrificed their lives for the motherland, last Sunday became etched in history. People got together at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to salute the armed forces, as part of the first edition of Soldierathon — powered by Hindustan Times.

Organised to commemorate the armed forces’ martyrs, the marathon saw over 12,500 runners in categories of 21km, 10km, 5km, and wheelchair, matching step with soldiers from Air Force, Border Security Force (BSF), Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), Police forces, families of armed forces personnel and martyrs. Cricketers Mohammad Kaif and Fever 104 Bharat Positive Campaign ambassador Gautam Gambhir, too, lent their support to the cause.

Flagging off the Half Marathon at Soldierathon are Sub Major Yogendra Yadav, PVC; Capt Bana Singh, PVC; Major Surendra Poonia, VSM; Army Chief General Bipin Rawat.

“With the two Param Vir Chakras (PVC), Capt Bana Singh and Sub Yogendra Yadav, flagging off the event with Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, Gen VK Singh and Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, we are gunning to change the definition of ‘Hero’ in this nation,” says Major Surendra Poonia, founder, Soldierathon — President Awardee Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM). He adds, “Runners came from as far as Siachen, Jammu, and Srinagar. Paraplegic runners ran in the normal category. The atmosphere was so powerful and emotional. A 75-year-old gentleman said, ‘Main zindagi mein kabhi dauda nahin, par is ke liye kahin bhi daud sakta hoon (I have never run in my life, but for this cause, I can run anywhere).”

Cricketer Mohammad Kaif, Blade runner Col Gaurav Dutta, Capt Bana Singh, Blade runner Major DP Singh pep up the runners with an inspirational talk.

As a mark of gratitude to the soldiers who have suffered permanent disability in service, a sum of ₹17,09,000 was donated to The Paraplegic Centre.

In the first year itself, Soldierathon has gained the third position in terms of subscribers, in Delhi.

“Feel absolutely honoured to participate in #Soldierathon , ran 10 kms and had an opportunity to meet two of the biggest heroes of our country, PVC Bana Singh ji and PVC Yogendra Yadav ji. The youth of our country needs to be aware of these amazing heroes (sic)” — Mohammad Kaif

For the participants, the event was marked by selfies and hearts filled with pride. Dance performances, ranging from Heroic Warrior Sequences by Divyangs to patriotic sequences by Dance Planet enthralled one and all.

Captain Shalini Singh, wife of Kirti Chakra Major Bhadauria, says, “Event like these reaffirms my belief that people have a lot of love, respect, and faith in our armed forces. “

“The run was exceptionally special because I was running for those who laid their lives for the nation,” says Mona Sharma, a participant.

YouTuber Amit Bhadana clicks a selfie with the attendees.

YouTuber Amit Bhadana says, “Main kaafi time se Army ke liye kuch karna chahta tha (I wanted to do something for the Army for quite some time), as my late grandfather was in the Army. It was a wonderful experience, and I wish to be associated with this initiative in the future as well.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Major Heera Lal Poonia, Indian Revenue Service (IRS), says, “In other marathons, people run to improve their time, but here, everyone ran for the soldiers. Seeing participants from all age groups was a heartening experience.”

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First Published: Mar 12, 2018 17:22 IST