Milind Soman, India’s supermodel, actor, producer and one of the most well-known fitness promoters in the country, became the first person to register the name for the seventh edition of Darjeeling Hill Marathon, the biggest such event in north Bengal.
Soman is the ambassador of the November 22 marathon organised by Darjeeling Police. He interacted with people of Darjeeling live from Mumbai at an event organised by the police on Thursday.
“I have been to Darjeeling many many times and am looking forward to participate in the event. Hopefully, my wife (Ankita Konwar) and my 81-year old mother will be taking part in the event. She (mother) will be very excited to participate in the marathon,” said Soman.
The past marathons had attracted runners not only from across India but also from countries like Kenya, Nepal, US and Australia.
Given the travel restrictions in force because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of international participants might fall but the organisers are expecting a huge count of Indians at the event as the marathon route has been “internationally recognised”.
In keeping with the present situation, the tag line for the marathon is “Time to R-Unlock.”
Darjeeling superintendent of police Santosh Nimbalkar, who is also a physician, advised people to take care of their fitness. “During the Covid pandemic, the best way out is to improve fitness and this will protect us from diseases. Start running, start building your stamina,” said Nimabalkar.
The marathon, which has two sections of 21.1km and 10km runs, will start and finish at Chowrasta and has been divided into six categories.
Milind Soman The Telegraph picture
“There are categories for police, under 45 years and above 45 years for both male and females. Registration will be done only online through www.townscript.com/in/darjeeling and the runners’ blips will be sent to participants in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts through local police stations,” said Abhishek Gupta, additional SP (headquarters).
Outstation runners will be handed over the blips in Darjeeling a day earlier.
Soman, however, was all praise for hill runners and said “they are much better” than those in coastal areas.
“Remember, everyone can run but at your own pace. It is not about finishing past but reaching the finishing point. Find your own space,” advised Soman.
SP Nimbalkar, Gupta, Everester Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, runner Priti Rai and others launched the finisher’s medal, jersey and a promotional video titled “Darjeeling Calling” produced by the Darjeeling police.
The top three winners of the 21.1km marathon will receive prizes of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 while the podium finishers of the 10km run will take home Rs 25,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000.