Chennai: At 4.30 in the morning when it is still dark, you could see a group of people assembling on the city roads, all set to glide.
With promoting fitness and social service as main objectives, the 18 chapters of Chennai Runners, which has been active for the past ten years keeps growing every day.
What started off with three members in 2006 has grown big as the group now has more than 8,000 runners. Three like-minded individuals — Ram Viswanathan, Hari Shankar and Vidyuth Srinivasan — who formed the group did not anticipate this kind of interest.
“We had teamed up with the sister organisation called Chennai Trekking Club to take part in coastal clean-up. Not just this, every chapter has volunteers who function based on the requirements in their neighbourhood,” said Preethi Aghalayam, president of Chennai Runners Club. Every chapter has energetic names: Porur Racers, Kilpauk Striders, Chrompet Cheetahs and so on.
Diversification of fitness activities could be witnessed, prompting people to join the group.
“We dedicate Sundays to long runs. Strength training, running and cycling forms the rest of the week. As the body needs rest after long runs, no activities are planned on Mondays,’ said Shankarlal Patel, a member of Chrompet Cheetahs. He has participated in seven marathons.
The groups have evolved to a community network as team outings and social service would be seen more often. “We celebrate festivals together. Recently, we had watched Kabali,” said Kalpana Jain, a member from Kilpauk Striders.
“Kilpauk Striders has teamed up with city hospitals to donate blood,” she added. “My fitness has improved after joining the group. Many people with health issues became fit after being an active member, she said.