Monday, 30th October 2017

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Up at dawn for a walk with thousands - TCS Fit4life Corporate Challenge had fitness freaks jostling on Broadway early on Sunday

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By (AS TOLD TO BRINDA SARKAR)
  • Published 7.02.14
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TCS Fit4life — Corporate Challenge, partnered by t2, was an 8km run/jog/walk held in the township on Sunday morning. While the event was meant for representatives from corporate firms around the city, it had one informal participant who had long crossed the superannuation mark. Mohon Kundu, a 67-year-old resident of Purbachal Cluster XI and eight-time winner of Purbachal Utsav’s walking race for senior citizens, was at the venue by 6am. He shares his experience with The Telegraph Salt Lake.

The starting point of the race, Salt Lake stadium, is very dear to me. Not only did I retire as weight-lifting coach of Sports Authority of India, which is housed there, but I also walk in the stadium complex for an hour every evening with mostly senior citizens as fellow-walkers.

So it was quite a change to reach there at the crack of dawn and I was delighted to see more than 2,000 youngsters assemble at the stadium at 6am on Sunday.

The event started with a warm-up session and I was pleasantly surprised to see it being led by Sujoy Guha, a former colleague who is the boxing coach at SAI. Among chief guests were athletes Sanjay Kumar Rai, Soma Biswas and Satpati Pal. All three have done weight training with me. I was proud to see them on stage.

The race then started and all of us moved out. It was an emotional moment for me as I recalled escorting my students to such races on Red Road during my tenure.

Some participants were serious and started running right away but many were relaxed, even stopping at the tea shop at HA Island, saying they hadn’t had time for breakfast that morning. I was upset to see a few runners hiding behind trees and smoking. I told them not to smoke, at least at a sporting event that aims to promote fitness. They stubbed their cigarettes and resumed running.

Milkmen, newspaper vendors and garbage collectors stared at our group and several morning-walkers asked me what was going on. The contestants had to run to Netaji statue, take a left to encircle Central Park, collect a token at Karunamoyee and head back to the stadium. I maintained a steady pace throughout but did not go the whole distance. Since I am used to walking an hour daily I didn’t exert myself. I took an about turn at GD Island.

Sights & sounds

I have stopped walking in the mornings these days as I have to jostle for space with vehicles but mornings have their distinct sights and sounds. Youths played cricket in the field in JC Block, vendors rode cycle vans ferrying earthen cups to the tea stalls outside AMRI Hospitals and morning-walkers plucked flowers for puja from trees outside the stadium.

There were members of the green police and volunteers from TCS holding up traffic while we ran. They offered us water and cheered for us as we crossed them. Soon I saw a young man run past me escorted by a bike. I realised he was leading from the front.

As a resident of Purbachal I have been taking part in the senior citizens’ walking race that is held as part of Purbachal Utsav for the past 10 years and have been winning it for the past eight years. This year incidentally the Utsav’s sports day was scheduled on the same day as TCS Fit4life — February 2. But sadly, the walking race was scrapped this year. It was a popular race that drew nearly 60 people every year. I asked many organisers why it was cancelled but no one had an answer.

Even though I couldn’t walk in my neighbourhood’s race I am happy to have walked in a race under such a big banner and that too with more than 2,000 youngsters. Even if 500 of these runners incorporate exercise in their daily lives it will be a step towards a healthy nation.