In­dia’s ‘Faith Run­ner’ fal­ters on the fi­nal straight

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Tor­mented by blis­ters, ill­ness and in­juries, In­dian ul­tra-marathoner Samir Singh got to within 36 kilo­me­tres of his goal of run­ning 10,000km in 100 days when pain and ex­haus­tion beat him. Singh, dubbed “The Faith Run­ner” and in­evitably com­pared to For­rest Gump, spent nearly three months run­ning be­tween Mumbai’s slums and busi­ness dis­trict us­ing do­nated clothes and equip­ment, and liv­ing on just $3 a day. At the end of his at­tempt on Sun­day, the 5ft 7ins (170cm) run­ning coach, who also suf­fered stom­ach prob­lems and vi­ral fever, weighed just 40 kilo­grammes (88 pounds).

Singh started on April 29 in Mumbai’s scorch­ing heat, and has been run­ning through the mon­soon rains with­out skip­ping a day. He needed to clock 150km (93 miles) on the fi­nal day on Sun­day, af­ter fall­ing be­hind sched­ule through ill­ness.

But the 44-year-old could only com­plete 114km, fall­ing ag­o­nis­ingly short of his tar­get-which was the equiv­a­lent of about a quar­ter of the Earth’s cir­cum­fer­ence. “He was plagued by gas­tro-in­testi­nal in­fec­tions and con­tracted vi­ral fever but has run 9,964.19 kms in 100 days,” Vikram Bhatti, who han­dled Singh’s cam­paign, told AFP.

Dressed in a blue sports vest, Singh started each day in the early hours from the north­ern Mumbai slums and headed to the busi­ness dis­trict in the city’s south. “My jour­ney of run­ning 100 kilo­me­tres per day is very chal­leng­ing but I wanted to show the en­durance limit of hu­man spirit,” Singh told AFP ahead of the fi­nal run.

Friends mocked the man from Mad­hya Pradesh state for tak­ing on the chal­lenge, but it be­came an at­tempt that caught the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion. “I sur­vived with­out a job for the last nine months and peo­ple have come for­ward and sup­ported me with do­na­tions, shoes, clothes and equip­ment,” Singh said. He had a GPS watch, a ba­sic mo­bile phone for emer­gen­cies and 200 ru­pees ($3.14) a day. Singh said he par­tic­u­larly en­joyed his meal of rice and spicy lentils, af­ter every run. The five-time ul­tra­ma­rathon win­ner lost 16 ki­los (35 pounds) dur­ing the chal­lenge as his ex­er­tions took their toll.

“I have fo­cused on my goals with de­ter­mi­na­tion and nur­tured my dreams de­spite cracked heels, frac­tured joints and legs,” Singh said. Singh was spot­ted one day by Mumbai doc­u­men­tary-mak­ers Van­dana and Vikram Bhatti, who chris­tened him ‘The Faith Run­ner’.

“We met him on the 47th day of his chal­lenge and were taken aback by his story. So, we have been run­ning a Face­book cam­paign to cre­ate aware­ness and gen­er­ate funds for Samir,” Van­dana Bhatti said. — AFP

Samir Singh

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