Get fit. Have fun. Save lives
KATHMANDU, Feb 12: Every Saturday morning in Dharan around 150 people gather in Yalambar Park. At exactly 7am, they start running from the park heading to the long road of Tin Kune jungle and back. They run 3.5 kilometers every time.
Dharan Run was initiated, on May 2011, by Santosh Rai after he experienced firsthand benefits of regular running. Rai, 33, lives in the United Kingdom and has been a regular participant of Park Run UK for the last four years. “I’ve completed 125 runs,” he says, adding that he wanted to introduce the physical and mental benefits of running to his hometown of Dharan.
Dharan Run is basically modeled around Park Run, which is organized every week, is free of cost and takes place within parks. The first run had 24 participants and the highest number of participants in a week is numbered at 223, informs Manish Tamang, 30, President of Dharan Run. Almost 1800 runners have been registered in Dharan Run since its establishment.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle and a belief that prevention is a much wiser step than cure, its motto of ‘Get Fit, Have Fun, Save Lives’ says it all. To encourage and motivate, participants receive key rings, t-shirts and even shoes and other accessories. While adults are presented with a t-shirt after completing 50 runs, those under 19 years of age will receive a t-shirt after completing 20 runs. Every year, three best runners are announced and they receive running shoes and jackets, among other things.
Newa Fundraising Shop, which sells an assortment of new and used merchandise, provides the clothes and accessories. It’s been supporting the organization since the beginning, and Tamang says, “It is an integral part of Dharan Run.”
Donations from UK, Hong Kong and Brunei make up a large portion of the shop’s goods, and it sells clothes, furniture, books, etc. It aims to help disabled people. The shop’s UK core team of Santosh Rai, Purshottam Rai, Anil Rai and Tika Limbu, collect the goods and send it to Nepal, which is then sold through the shop and the fund distributed to help the needy.
Age is no bar. Participants as young as 8 years old come enthusiastically to run, and some runners are also in their late forties. Young children are every bit as keen as their seniors. While most of them have only a vague idea of the health benefits of running, they’re an enthusiastic crowd, nonetheless, running in their slippers, or even barefoot.
Though male participation has always been prominent, women are also enthusiastic runners. Of the 150 runners each Saturday, female participation stands at around 55.
It’s almost been a year since Jyoti Tamang, 18, became a member of Dharan Run. Accompanied by her friends and elder sister, she joins the other runners every Saturday and returns home energetic. She runs without fail every Saturday and has seen a marked improvement in her stamina.
She says, “I’ve improved in long distance running over the past few months.”
Junior Resident Dr Kumbha Raj Joshi, who is pursuing his MDS at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, has been an active participant for the past five months. Dr Joshi, 27, is a basketball player and says that the benefits of the weekly running are many. “It’s helped in improving my stamina and is a sort of training for my games. And I feel fresh and active throughout the entire day after the morning run,” he lists.
Strengthening and building of community ties is another benefit. Runners develop a sense of camaraderie, and he adds, “I enjoy interacting with all the other participants and it’s a stress reliever.”
On February 16, an estimated crowd of 700 people will be gathering in Bhanu Chowk at 6:30 in the morning. At exact 7:30, the Newa Charity 8K Run/Walk will kick off and the participants will either run or walk from the start point to Putali Line and go towards the hilltop of Buda Subba. The race is also being supported by Newa Fundraising Shop.
Founder Rai has already tried the route and says it was a fun run of 40 minutes.
The upcoming Newa Charity 8K Run/Walk also has Dr Joshi excited. Even though the route is double the normal length, he’s certain that it’ll be no hardship for him. Similarly, Jyoti is looking forward to the event and says, “I’ll do my best.”
A registration fee of Rs 100 and Rs 150 will have to be paid by members of Dharan Run and new participants, respectively, for which they also get a t-shirt. Of the 500 plus people who have already registered for the run, 350 are new participants. Tamang says, “Initially, we had only given orders of 500, but now with the increasing number of registration an extra 200 orders have been placed.”
The prize money stands at Rs 20,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 for the winners, and is equal for both the male and female category. The best three runners under 16 in each category will also be presented with a trophy and a medal