Running, bonding, greening

Children take part in the one-kilometre run.  

Last Saturday, barely doused in the early morning sunlight, Bollineni Hillside was astir. A run dedicated to a green initiative was under way. Togged in running gear — track pants, loose-fitting tees and running shoes — a good number of residents in and around the gated community had turned out for the event. The master of ceremonies was oohing and aahing the enthusiastic participants as they were approaching the finishing point. It was a motley set of runners, ranging from 102 cm to 190 cm —these are not exact figures, but you get the point, don’t you?

And then, it happened.

The effusive commentator was at a loss for words, for one-trillionth of a second. There was nothing in his dictionary to describe the unfolding drama. There was a neck-and-neck race between two unlikely runners. They were competing in the seniors category and would have been excused for walking. In fact, the one-km run, meant for those in their first and second childhood (if you have not figured it out, children and seniors), could have walked the course without fear of disqualification.

But, 60-year-old Padma Yogendra and 55-year-old Suseela Vijayaraman would not take the easy route. They would run that one kilometre and how! Padma, who had a fall in November and subsequently put on weight, would strain every sinew and dash towards the finish line.

“Come on, mom!” exclaimed her son P.V. Bharadwaj, a member of OMR Dreamrunners, which was part of the collective that organised the event which combined fitness goals with a green cause — more of this, later.

Suseela, her competitor, was the show stopper. Dressed in a sari and running as fast as she could, she was the cynosure. And, to everyone’s astonishment, she won the race, piping Padma at the post.

Post-run, Padma settled down on the lawn at park two, where the prize distribution ceremony was going on. Padma, who is a professional psychological counsellor, says running has a deep impact on the mind.

“I tell my patients that running and other forms of exercise are de-stressing. They make the mind fresh,” she added.

Padma introduced me to Sangeetha Mohan, a resident of Bollineni Hillside and a fitness trainer to a fitness group, consisting entirely of women, at the township.

“Right now, we have given it just a working name — ‘fitness freaks. In the weeks to come, we’ll give it a proper, permanent name,” said Sangeetha.

Now, Sangeetha is a well-known former international athlete. A high jumper, the high water mark of her career came in 2004 at the South Asian Federation Games, where she did a 1.81-metre jump and created a new record for SAF Games, which is yet to be bettered.

Sangeetha is now a fitness trainer with a certification from Australian Strength and Consolidating Association.

And then, I met Suseela, the sari-clad winner the women’s seniors category, and her proud husband told me that his entire family had participated in the Go Green Run@Bollineni Hillside, as the event was called.

Like the Vijaramans, many families turned out in full strength and ran, which made for an engaging picture. One snapshot of the event that remains etched in this writer’s mind is children walking around, wearing string-attached medals that were three-fourth their height.

Biting down on the medal, at the behest of his father, a pint-sized Ilamughil Devendran struck a pose for the camera. His father, Devendran Natarajan is a regular runner and part of OMR Dreamers.

Every participant seemed to have got a medal and a sapling.

Saplings were chosen as mementoes to further the green cause. At the end of the run, a planting programme was conducted — 40 trees were planted on the premises of the township. This effort is part of a continual initiative to green the township.

“Last year, the Bollineni Hillside Residential Township Owners Association (BHRTOA) planted 100 trees on the premises. Now, forty. And on August 15, another 60 trees would be planted,” explains Shoba Srikanth, secretary, BHRTOA. There is also a plan to set up herbal gardens.

“There are eight clusters in the township. We’re planning to have a ‘herbal corner’ in each cluster,” says Shoba. As I was leaving the township, I was telling myself, “Well, this event could be summed up in one pithy sentence with three words — running, bonding and greening.”

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:40:07 AM |

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