Running barefooted, an eight member team of Vanvasi youth associated with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram won the runner-up award in the prestigious Bengaluru International Midnight Marathon, recently. In the event where over 8,500 athletes participated, the Kalyan Ashram team stood against all odds and won the prestigious marathon, running barefooted.
The Midnight International Marathon is first of its kind in the world and was organised on December 10 by Rotary Bengaluru’s IT Corridor Unit, with a motto of ‘Run for a Child’, to create awareness about child healthcare, nutrition and child education.
With just a delay of 90 seconds, the Kalyan team secured second place in the men’s 35km section of marathon relay. The first and third prizes were bagged by teams sponsored by reputed software companies TESCO and HP respectively.
Hailing from the dense forest area of Titimati under Virajpet Taluk of Kodagu district, Karnataka, these youth participated in their maiden marathon. Of this eight-member team, Maada, a student of class 12 is a known sprinter. Others, Vishwanath, Harish, Papu, Raju PN, Suresh, Timmayya, Venkatesh are coolie workers having a high athletic skills.
With a spirit to imbue the confidence of these Vanvasi talents, well known physician Dr Rekha S Neela and her husband, businessman Srinivas R Neela, sponsored the Kalyan Ashram team and introduced the Vanvasi talent to an international platform. Shri Venkatesh Nayak, coordinator of the Kalyan Ashram, Karnataka guided the team throughout.
Though the Vanvasi youth lack many civic facilities, they never underwent any coaching or special practice for marathon. Being barefooted they won the event, just keeping the experience of few previous domestic athletic events. “There are many skilled youth at Vanvasi areas, if a proper care is taken, coaching is provided, talents are nurtured, they are capable bringing glory to the nation by winning medals at Olympics,” said Dr Rekha.
Shri Venkatesh Nayak said, “Kalyan Ashram has already produced for the nation Olympian Limba Ram in archery and Kavitha Raut in 10 km race.” The prize distribution ceremony was held at the premises of Hotel Royal Orchid on December 17, in which the audience congratulated the Kalyan Ashram team with a standing ovation.
(By Rajesh Padmar in Bengaluru)