The Amway Andaman Marathon was a race that brought the islands together. And Rahul Bose, the ambassador for the Amway Andaman Marathon, refused to be a spectator.... He participated in the 10km run.
Held in Port Blair, the race, in its second edition, saw 800 runners. The event had two categories — a 21km half-marathon and a 10km run. Most amateurs ran the shorter one but the bonhomie was infectious. The run started at Cellular Jail, ended at Netaji Stadium and crossed several roads of Port Blair. On the way, fishmongers and temple priests stepped out to watch the runners, traffic policemen broke into applause and students ran out of their tuition classrooms to cheer.
The organisers, the Andaman chamber of commerce, hope to expand the event into a triathalon soon, adding swimming and cycling events. “The island’s setting is perfect for these sports and will boost its reputation as a sporting-cum-tourist destination,” said Mohamed H. Jadwet, chairman of the organising committee.
Amway wanted to associate with an event that promotes a healthy lifestyle. “And since 60 per cent of our business comes from women we wanted to ensure that the sport we pick includes women,” said William S. Pinckney, MD and CEO of Amway India.
After the race, Rahul Bose chatted with t2.
How important is running in your daily routine?
I have a 10-day workout schedule where on one day I run between 10 and 20km, and on others I play squash, rugby, hit the gym and so on. If I’m in Himachal Pradesh I trek and in the Andamans I swim! But I enjoy running and have participated in the half-marathons in Mumbai and Delhi.
You have been associated with the Andamans since the tsunami in 2004.
When the tsunami struck, everyone was helping victims in Nagapatnam and Pondicherry but the Andamans went unnoticed. So, I came here two days after the (2004) tsunami struck and was horrified at what I saw. Forests of five-storey-high trees were horizontal. And the mass was still five-storeys high because that many trees had fallen on top of one another. We extended relief and tried to re-build the victims’ lives. The people’s love and loyalty to the islands kept drawing me here even afterwards and in 2007 I started an NGO called The Foundation. It sponsors the education of five students from the islands.
Do you think the Andamans can use sports to boost tourism?
Port Blair is a tiny place in terms of area, infrastructure and wealth but they have pulled off a marathon when larger cities find it difficult. This is possible because of the passion of its citizens. When runners contemplate marathons, the venue is important. No one wants to run in a noisy, smelly, crowded and polluted environment. I’ve had to stop running in Delhi because the pollution there makes me sick. This is where Port Blair has an edge.