When Jagdish and Sindhu Damania decided they wanted to take up long distance running in 2007, marathons seemed a little too trivial for them. So they decided to up the level by not just thinking long distances, but long term to promote a sustainable way of life.
The Bengaluru-based couple, who will be in the city on December 18 to organise the third edition of their series of runs, the Mera Terah Run, have dedicated their lives to promoting various causes through running. They say that the inspiration to run for causes came to them when they began running as a hobby. “We started running in 2007, but what we really wanted to do was run to raise funds for causes. The idea behind the Mera Terah Run is to promote a cause, that we pick up every year,” says Sindhu.
Sindhu, 53, who works in the social impact space with children, says, “Last year was a drought year for the country and since I travel around rural areas, I found that during droughts, the only type of crop that can be grown are millets. We’ve been incorporating millets into our diet for the last six years, because they also have health benefits — it releases carbohydrates which is good for endurance runners. So it was a logical thing for us to do — it’s good for running, for the environment, for farmers and it’s a sustainable crop, as it needs low input.”
The concept of the runs were conceived by combining two things that Jagdish loved doing — running and train journeys. “The number 13 (terah) is significant because that’s approximately the distance of a half marathon. So we decided to do half marathons interspersed with train journeys across the country,” says Sindhu, adding that the first edition saw them have 13 runs of 13(.1) miles each, passing through 13 states and travelling on 13 trains.
With the help of volunteers, the Mera Terah Run has grown to involve a multitude of runners and causes. The first two editions were organised to raise funds for charitable organisations. They raised around Rs 15 lakh and Rs 21 lakh for each run.
Jagdish, who moved to Bengaluru from Mumbai 16 years ago, grew up loving the outdoors. “I have also done a few treks in the Himalayas, such as the Everest Base Camp. In my college days, too, I would go to the Sahyadris for trekking,” says Jagdish, whose soft-spoken nature belies his and his wife’s strong-willed stamina to run. Case in point: For their 25th wedding anniversary three years ago, the couple walked for five days from the northern-most to the southern tip of Goa!...