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Nationalities, backgrounds and age no bar for runners at The Great India Run

Runners from all over the world will come together for The Great India Run, which will start on the 17th July.

Great India Run
Melanie (L), David and Pia (R) will be participating in the Great India Run

Anyone who has seen Tom Hanks-starrer Forrest Gump would agree that it was nothing but running that kept his life going, right from the time he was a childhood till he became a father. There is a sense of nobility and purity about running that sets it apart from any other sport in the world because you literally require nothing but functioning legs to participate. A marathon, in a lot of ways, is the pinnacle of running; the Test match format if you like.

One such event that aims to bring together runners from all around the world, who love nothing else more than running, is The Great India Run, which is set to begin at the India Gate in New Delhi and will end at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. Some of the best ultra marathoners from around the world will be seen participating in this run and their stories are quite inspiring, making one believe that nothing can come in your way if you just want to run. 

Pia Hansson from Denmark is a 50-year old woman, who could aptly be characterised as a maverick female version of Forrest Gump as she has managed to run close to a whopping 400 marathons in her life, 396 to be exact. Mother to a 12-year-old son, Hansson is also trained in taekwondo and horse back riding. Speaking to Sportskeeda about her love for running, Hansson said, “It is a source of great strength and energy for me and gives me immense pleasure to run. I do not care about the timing and that is why I have never worn a watch on my wrist in a marathon.

“We are a group of friends in Denmark and keep organising marathons. You would be surprised to know that I have actually managed to run two marathons in one day. I do not practice running because the marathon is my practice and final event. Running gives me solace and it is my time, which I share with no one,” she added.

The confidence in her voice and the glow on her face was quite suggestive of how much she loved running. People like Hansson are a source of inspiration to many of us who keep trying really hard to find solace in life by doing umpteen things but never manage to get any. It is staggering to see how the love for running can actually make people someone travel al the way across a continent.

Another runner who will be participating at this marathon and has a staggering story is South African Melanie Delaney, a 31-year-old-woman who has been running since she was five years old. Running is not a hobby or a passion for her but a way of life and something without which she cannot survive at all. Delaney has got running in her DNA as the South African’s mother and uncle are both runners as well.

However, that is not the staggering part of her story. In March 2014, Melanie was hit by a taxi in a horrific accident that broke her vertebrae and ribs. Not only did she suffer from broken ribs and vertebrae, Melanie was in coma for two weeks and doctors did not give her a chance of surviving. Maybe she was too much in love with running or God did not want her to be running upstairs, she woke up and survived.

Talking about the accident to Sportskeeda, she said, “Doctors told me that I will never be able to run again and it took me six weeks after the accident to just walk. However, I thought what is the point of living if I will not be able to run and so I decided to resume my training. By the month of June, I was running again.”

“A lot of people call me crazy and say that I have no purpose but to run in life. I think otherwise. For me, craziness and insanity creeps in if I do not run because it is my identity. It is who I am, physically, mentally, psychologically and in every manner possible,” she added.

Pia and Melanie, along with several others, will be participating in The Great India Run to satiate their uncontrollable desire to keep running all their lives, thereby providing a lot of food for thought to everyone who does not understand the madness. Sometimes, running away is the best way to find yourself and these runners have done exactly the same to gain a sense of purpose, something that most of pretend to have in life but lack gravely.

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