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Odds concede defeat to Tata Steel Kolkata 25K participants

Runners with inspiring life stories to stand at starting blocks on Red Road on December 18

Debraj Mitra | Published 30.11.22, 09:10 AM

  • A homemaker who underwent surgery earlier this month for breast cancer.
  • A blind man who encourages his daughter to embrace all challenges.
  • A man who lost a leg seven years ago has not given up his never-saydie attitude.

All three will be at the starting blocks on Red Road on December 18, when the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, partnered by The Telegraph, makes a comeback after two Covid-scarred years.


They will be participating in different categories. But resilience and courage bind the three, and many more like them, in eastern India’s premier road race.

Kavita Gupta

On November 17, Gupta, 39, was inside an operating theatre. She underwent surgery to remove a malignant breast tumour. On December 18, she will participate in the Ananda Run (4.2km).

Gupta, a homemaker in Lake Town, wanted to participate in a 42km marathon in Mumbai earlier this year. An “outdoor person” since childhood, she had been a part of shorter marathons before.

The 39-year-old underwent some medical tests before starting rigorous preparations. The tests led to the diagnosis of breast cancer in June.

“Initially, I felt helpless. But with time, I told myself that if God has given me this disease, God must also have given me the strength to deal with it,” said Gupta, mother of a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.

Over the past few months, she has had to endure a lot. But she refused to give up. “I firmly believe that physical pain is not enough to beat me. Losing my hair to chemotherapy is not enough to beat me. The disease has actually made me stronger,” she said.

On December 18, she is hopeful of completing the 4.2km run. “But even if I am exhausted and cannot run, I will relax and just walk, because I just want to celebrate the atmosphere more than anything,” she said.

Mohammed Asif Iqbal

Iqbal, 45, an associate director with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Kolkata, is a champion of the rights of the differently able.

Born with impaired vision, he lost his sight completely before he was 16. But the lack of vision failed to stop him from climbing the corporate ladder.

As an employee of PwC India, he is involved in digital accessibility initiatives with the Centre and state governments. He has assisted in making the Aadhaar project inclusive and the process of filing online income tax returns more disabled-friendly.

Iqbal has run in the 10K category of TSK before. This time, he is preparing to run the entire 25-km stretch without any physical support.

Usually, visually impaired runners are accompanied by “buddy runners”. The visually impaired runner either holds on to the elbow of the buddy or a rope connects the two.

Iqbal’s new approach involves a wireless speaker attached to the waist of his buddy. The music enables Iqbal to have a sense of his buddy’s location. The buddy also gives him alerts about turns and speed breakers on the road.

“I am preparing hard. I hope the hard work comes good. I want to do this for my daughter. I want her to embrace all challenges in life,” said Iqbal.

Uday Kumar

Uday Kumar, 33, who lost his left leg in a train accident in 2015 and has since lived with a prosthetic limb, has registered in the 10km category. 

The Belghoria resident has been taking part in long-distance races for the past several years. He is also an avid cyclist and swimmer. He has run in the TSK more than once. But he has so far run in the Champions with Disability and Ananda Runs categories.

“TSK is the biggest run in my hometown and I want to give it my best shot,” said Kumar, who recently did a basic course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. On Sunday, he completed a 10km run in Patna. “Running helps me improve my mental strength. With every step, I feel like beating the odds,” he said.

Last updated on 30.11.22, 09:18 AM

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