Raghavendra Satish Peri accomplished something very, very special on August 25.
On that Sunday, he ran 21.5 kilometres at the Hyderabad Half Marathon. While that’s no mean achievement in itself, what’s even more laudable is that this spirited IBM employee is visually-impaired.
Carrying his white cane proudly, Raghavendra sprinted into the Gachibowli stadium in the final lap of the run, to loud cheers of ‘Run Peri Run’ from admirers, friends and relatives.
“I carried the white cane because for me it is a symbol of self respect, dignity and independence. I ran this half marathon for my sister who has rheumatic arthritis, my friend Deepa who has muscular atrophy and my best friend Yatin who is paralysed below the chest,” he says.
It was no easy task, given the fact that Raghavendra had to contend with high humidity and needed navigation. He had help from a co-runner.
“I met my co-runner Padma recently and she agreed to guide me in the run. She held my hand while we ran and she kept telling me about potholes, speed breakers, buildings and every turn along the route. From the beginning, we had decided to go steady and complete the run,” he recalls.
During his stay in Bangalore, Raghavendra trained with Runner’s High, a local runners group, and later with Hyderabad Runners. He had even completed a mock 12K run.
“After five kilometres, I quickly realised that it is not going to be an easy run due to the high humidity. We decided to keep ourselves hydrated at the aid stations,” he said.
With this being a city-based run, Raghavendra also had to contend with the sound of vehicular traffic.
“I have this psychological fear from the sound of vehicles and my legs won’t move because of it Initially, my speed was slow and my confidence was low,” he describes.
As he came close to the Gachibowli stadium, Raghavendra gained strength from the public who cheered him.
“All through the run, people cheered us. As I came closer, I felt prouder and more confident. I remember saying that Padma’s eyes and Raghava’s legs will finish the run,” he says.