My lovely cousin, Lucy, is currently on her gap year in India, working at a school in Kolkata. She text me the other day to let me know that she, and the kids from the school were running a local 10K and half marathon race which of course excited me no end.
I ran Lucy’s first 10K with her a few years ago, over a very hilly course in Edinburgh. In September she ran her first marathon in Berlin! I’m so proud of her, and love how much she’s enjoying running, and am looking forward to taking on some half marathons and other races when Lucy’s back in the UK.
A couple of days ago, 44 of the kids as well as some staff from Future Hope School (where I’m currently working) took part in the Tata Steel ‘Marathon’ in Kolkata. Most of the boys, aged between 12-21, opted for the 10K or 5K options, and one brave boy took on the 25Km race.
Training for the event was an interesting challenge and took place at the regular maidan sessions (the maidan is a massive park/field in the centre of Kolkata). With multiple children running at different speeds through the streets and on the maidan it was inevitable that one or two would get momentarily lost along the way…!
I decided to join the 10km runners whilst the rest of the volunteers chose the 5km.
The race was very well organised…as far as Indian organisation goes.. (those of you who’ve ever visited India will understand…). Some last minute changes to our departure time and a little bit of information lost in communication meant that I missed our bus, had to hail a taxi (difficult for a lone white woman at 6am in that part of the city) but bribed my way there and arrived at the start with only 5 mins to go before the gun went off.
As a result, I spent the race trying to catch up with the kids to run with them but managed to do small stretches with some and shout encouragement as I passed others heading towards the finish line. In reality this was all the boost I needed to smash my PB and earn my sub 1hr, finishing in 59:11, despite a serious lack of proper training!
I doubt I will ever run a race quite the same as this one again, running alongside a traffic jam and with street kids taking your half full water bottles from you whether you wanted them to or not.
Everyone finished their races with a smile on their faces and everyone here at Future Hope is immensely proud of all their runners.
Should you wish to learn more about this incredible charity then please follow this link: http://www.futurehope.net/
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends- regular blog posting will continue this week!!
What an amazing unique experience!
Thanks for posting this Charlie – I found this really interesting, certainly a unique experience and an amazing backdrop in that photo. Well done to Lucy – great PB! xx
What a fabulous experience your cousin must have had! I’m not too sure I would have felt very comfortable hailing a taxi at 6am on my own though!
Back in 2012 I was lucky enough to accompany some of the year 11 students from the school I worked at to take part in some charity work in Malawi. Obviously I took my running trainers, and a couple of times I headed out on morning runs I was followed by some of the young Malawian children along the dirt tracks. Would have been amazing to attend a race over there though!