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Half a marathon but full of heart
16,000 run for the girl child

Isha Sharma frantically called classmate Sanjoli Choudhury from Red Road on Sunday morning, only to learn that her Dream Run partner had overslept!

Sanjoli reached the starting point for the third edition of the Amity Calcutta Half-Marathon 15 minutes after the gun had been fired but it didn’t matter to her or the rest of the seven-member girl gang.

They were in it for a cause, and so were the 15,994 other Calcuttans and runners from outside who shook off their Sunday laziness to be a part of the event, organised in association with The Telegraph.

“We had a late night on Saturday. So none of us hit the bed before 12.30. It was obviously very difficult getting out of bed at 5.30 in the morning but we were determined to run together and we did it,” Isha, who is a rower, told Metro.

Actor Rahul Bose was the most recognisable face of the half-marathon and the 4km Dream Run organised to raise awareness and funds for the education and upbringing of the disadvantaged girl child. Proceeds from the event will go to Amitasha, an NGO involved in the education and upbringing of girl children.

“A road race is the best way to know a city. It needs no great skill to run and no expensive equipment either. You just need shoes and everybody can participate. Also, for those watching a road race, a vegetable vendor can be next to an entrepreneur whose son is participating. There are no air-conditioned boxes you get to enter for Rs 50,000,” the Midnight’s Children actor, who ran 17km out of the 21km course, told the gathering.

Tolly actors Jisshu Sengupta, Shaheb Bhattacherjee, Rahul, Priyanka and Mumtaz Sorcar ran for a few hundred metres. “I will come better prepared next year and complete the Dream Run,” Mumtaz promised.

Arunima Seal and Debanjan Goswami, students of microbiology department at St. Xavier’s College, had the event to thank for showing the beauty of their hometown at dawn.

“Calcutta cuts such a brilliant picture in the morning. I don’t remember when I last saw daybreak in the city,” said Debanjan, who was at the venue by 6.30pm.

Even at 6am, Red Road was throbbing with at least 10,000 participants already there and a growing queue at the spot-registration counter.

Narendra Devpal, 57, a doctor from Mumbai and marathon enthusiast, was in the city for a two-day convention but chose to run the full 21km. “I have a train to catch from Howrah at 1.30pm and will be heading straight to the station after the run,” he said.

The half-marathon started at the Mohammedan Sporting Ground a little after 7am and touched Esplanade, Moulali, Ananda Palit, Park Circus No. 4 Bridge, Gariahat, Golpark, Rashbehari Avenue, Chetla and Kidderpore before hitting Red Road again.

Not all participants were young. Many elderly people put on their running shoes and a few like 68-year-old Shiv Kumar Dalmiya completed the 21km course in good time. There were many foreigners too, soaking in the sights and sounds of the city even as they ran.

The organisers hope to go the whole hog with a 42.195km run next year on the lines of the Mumbai and Delhi marathons. The Dream Run, in which 14,000 people participated on Sunday, will be retained.