India’s first multi-city marathon, the Great India Run finished its first day on an extremely successful note. Before the 21-day event could be flagged off at India Gate, there was a celebratory atmosphere at the staring venue. The participants were greeted by a gathering of celebrities amidst gaiety and color with Government of India sports minister Vijay Goel and his colleague Kiren Rijju being in lead. Others, who graced the occasion, were; former India Olympian Anju Bobby George, former Miss India and actor Gul Panag, super Model Milind Soman besides an enthusiastic crowd. 12 elite Indian and international marathoners are the chief contenders besides several more, who will run for fun. More than the purpose of winning alone, the event is aimed at changing the perception about running in India. The endeavor is designed to urge Indians to actively focus on their fitness and well-being. Actor Gul Panag said that the Great India Run will also showcase the achievement of those, who are disciplined in their lives.
India’s Arun Bhardwaj led the team of 14 runners at India Gate while 3 other runners were simultaneously flagged off from Ghaziabad. All 17 runners joined at Gurgaon at around 10:30 AM and began the Haryana leg. At Delhi, Anju Bobby George ran with the India flag for some distance before the athletes broke away for the serious run. They have finished the first day after covering about 80 kilometers. This is the minimum distance they must cover each day before arriving in Mumbai on August 6. All venues will hold a 5 kilometer fun run by youngsters to add more color to the big event. India’s first 1480 kilometer run is the longest and the most challenging in Asia and it will test the endurance of even the most experienced participants. The caravan of participants will pass through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli before culminating at Mumbai.
Among the major participants in the Great India Run are Denmark’s Pia Hansson and David Bredo, Arun Bhardwaj, Joginder Chandna, Naresh Bhardwaj Ranjana Deora, Meenal Kotak and Shweta Sharma all of New Delhi, Kaushal Chauhan of Agra, Dhanee Kumar of Gujarat, Dinesh Heda of Goa, Satish Gujaran of Karnataka and Sunil Sharma of Chandigarh.
The athletes will launch themselves early on Monday for the second day’s run. The Great India Run is supported by mobile fitness start-up firm MobieFit that created a free running & fitness training App. Gul Panag is a co-founder of the App. Besides, the ultra-marathon will also draw support from the GoSports Foundation, who will generate funds for the prize money. The monetary accruals are not so important because the central theme of the Great India Run is to serve as a clarion call to motivate people to take up running earnestly.