Running a marathon is in itself a feat. Running it in humid conditions is a difficult feat… but running 50km at a stretch in humid conditions calls for grit and determination. Doing this on your 50th birthday is one of the most unique messages one can send out, especially in these times, when keeping oneself healthy has become top priority.
Akbar Bandookwala, who hails from Udaipur and is a prominent businessman in China celebrated his 50th birthday on 10 June in style. He was not keen to welcome his 50th year with parties, cakes or other legacy forms of celebration – being an athlete, he wanted to do something unique...and this is what is did
Akbar started a campaign across multiple locations, motivating people to run with him on 10 June. He called it “Any Body Can…RUN WITH AK”. Family, friends and well-wishers across 4 different time zones, viz. Udaipur, China, Kuwait, Dubai joined him in spreading this message.
While Akbar ran a full 50km in the dry and humid conditions at Guangzhou in China, the other participants enthusiastically joined him by running or walking any distance that suited them. The idea was not to compete, but to promote awareness on healthy lifestyle.
In his interaction with Udaipur Times, Akbar said that his passion for running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle stems from an accident that left him with little hope in long distance running. It was in 2013 that Akbar met with an accident. The doctors advised him bedrest to cure his condition and added a precautionary note against participating in long distance running and marathons. Akbar, being a determined individual, took this as a challenge. After recuperating from his illness, Akbar ventured on his running feet and began participating in half marathons from 2014. He upped his participation to full marathons (41km) across various cities.
Keeping this enthusiasm alive and with an intent to promote health and well-being in society, Akbar took on the 50km campaign on his Fiftieth Birthday.
Speaking to UT, Akbar said that the event was a huge success. In China, where he ran a full 50km, around 200 participants of different nationalities accompanied him. While the majority of the participants were Chinese, the others were a mix of Indians, Pakistanis, Canadians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, making it a unique multi-ethnic health promotion event.
While Akbar and a Chinese female co-runner completed the full 50 km, the others ran for 5km, 10km, 15km, etc. as it suited each. While the other participants joined him in his endeavor towards dawn and the early hours, Akbar began his 50km run at 2am China time, when the temperature was around 28 degrees and the humidity was moderate. He says that since the temperature during the morning and daylight hours was ranging between 35-40 degrees with the accompanying humidity, it was safer to run in the night – dawn hours.
Apart from Guangzhou family, friends and well-wishers joined him in his endeavor across Udaipur, Kuwait, Dubai, Canada. Certificates and mementos were distributed to all the participants to make it a memorable event. All participants gave a commitment to walk or run on a daily basis.