Sakshi, 15, is a little shy when her teammates point to her as the fastest runner. The group of girls on the Pardada Pardadi’s under-17 basketball team, from Bulandshahr, is always in training, for numerous events they take part in and outside the Uttar Pradesh, many of which they say they come out at the top. This makes it easy to take part in running events, of which Run for Her is one.
Organised over three year now, the run takes place on Women’s Day, March 8, with an aim to raise awareness about women’s empowerment, by way of running. Organised by the High Commission of Canada and the Run with Me Foundation, led by coach Ravinder, the money raised will go to the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society that supports eduction for girls, the Navjyoti India Foundation that works on women’s safety and empowerment, and In For The Cause that helps society be inclusive of those with a disability.
While last year saw about 1,000 women participate, this year coach Ravinder says he’s hoping to see about 1,200, with a few men taking part too. “We want to include men who support women’s running too,” he says, citing those who run in mixed groups for either safety or a sense of camaraderie.
Ankush Mendiratta, whose group Run Bugs has more women than men, says the least men can do, considering the city isn’t safe for women at 4:30 or 5 a.m. when they set out for a run, is to run together. In a men-for-women format developed by the Pinkathon, Mendiratta says, “I get calls asking, ‘Can I run?’ So I ask people to come and join us for tea on a Saturday just to get a sense of the connections we have and the positive spirit.” Women, often reticent about sport find support in these groups.
Of a women’s-only run, Rama Vedashree, 60, who has been running for the past decade or so, says, “New women runners tend to come for this because it’s less intimidating. Distances are — at 3 km, 5 km, 10 km — are doable. A lot of my running friends run with their daughters (those as young as six can participate).” She adds that it’s also a pleasant experience to run in the Chanakyapuri diplomatic area, where it’s rare to get permission for an event.
In the meantime, 50 girls from Pardada Pardadi are getting ready to come to Delhi to run the race. They had five podium finishes out of six last year. “At first our parents weren’t happy with us going out of station, but when they see us win, they’re encourage us now,” says Deepika Chaudhary, one of the participants.
Register at townscript.com; ₹1,000 upward; March 8th; train with Run Bug (Facebook.com/groups/runbugs)