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Life's a marathon for this single mom

Last updated on: January 10, 2014 12:59 IST

Life's a marathon for this single mom

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Laxmi Negi

A failed marriage and the challenge of raising an autistic son cannot curb Sayuri Dalvi's passion for running, discovers Laxmi Negi.

Sayuri Dalvi could have been champion in October 2013's 'Running Beyond Myself' Half Marathon in Pune, but fell short by just a minute.

This 33-year-old single mother finished second in the female category clocking 1 hour and 53 minutes.

In 2014, Sayuri clocked 1.36.43 at the Sabarmati marathon, Ahmedabad and needless to say another podium finish! 2014 can be perfect for this running rockstar if she clocks those 26 miles in 4 hours.

This avid marathon runner -- a full-time single mother, full-time house help, or whatever you call her -- made it to the podium after a long hiatus, overcoming a strong field and a host of seasoned runners, only to miss out on the cherry on the cake.

But setbacks are not new to this mother of a nine-year-old son.

At 20, marriage happened quite suddenly and soon she stepped into the role of housewife. Three years later, Vihaan was born and she settled down as a dutiful wife and doting mother. For someone who likes to live life to the fullest, this was it!

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Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook

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But her story was just unfolding.

The marriage was turbulent and her bundle of joy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her world came crashing around her.

Single parenting is an extremely demanding task that requires a lot of attention and energy.

Sayuri is up on her feet from 5 am to 11 pm, as her life revolves around her son.

The challenges and obstacles are plenty, but she takes it all in her stride with a smile.

"Unconventional things have happened to me; divorce, autistic child. Nothing normal has ever happened to me," she bemoans, relaxing in a vest and running shorts, flaunting her svelte runner's body.

To say it was a difficult phase for Sayuri would be too mild.

She battled with the 20kgs she put on after pregnancy, a failed marriage and worse an autistic child. Her self-esteem hit rock bottom!

However, today all those woes are behind her. 

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Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook
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Life's a marathon for this single mom

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I have gone through low phases crying out and yelling, 'why, Vihaan?' But when I look at it closely, I think it's my karma and Vihaan, which means God's gift or dawn in life, is with me for redemption. I have evolved a lot with him; he has made me responsible and grounded," she says, looking back on those troubled years while chilling over a lime mojito after a long run.

Having always finished the half marathons she ran in under two hours, the second place finish at Pune was a no mean feat. But, yes, after an ankle injury last year the podium is a homecoming for the lady who has run the Mumbai Marathon since 2007 and is a regular in the Delhi, Goa, Pune, Hyderabad events.

Long distance running is arguably the most physically demanding of sports disciplines. There are times when giving up running crosses Sayuri’s mind, but she is the reason half of the people who run every morning at Shivaji Park, in Mumbai, continue to do so.

"When I started running back in 2006," Sayuri says, "There were a lot of morning walkers around Shivaji Park (in Dadar, Mumbai) and I was the only one running. They would stop me and ask how much did I run, and after just a few minutes of talking they would be inspired.”

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Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook

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Life's a marathon for this single mom

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Sayuri has now moved to Mulund, a suburb in north-east Mumbai. She points out that the people there are yet to get used to her running.

"The coconut water vendor I frequent after the long run is always perplexed about why I am red and sweat profusely when I come to him. So when I tell him I run, he doesn't believe and says he has never seen a woman running in the area."

A champion athlete in inter-school competitions, winning came naturally to her; the podium was her throne. But an ankle injury threatened to take away the joy she got out of running.

Indeed, Sayuri has sacrificed a lot to get back into shape and return to the podium. First, she shed her luscious long and strong mane. When she chopped them off, her friends were stunned. Which woman in her right sense would get rid of the lustrous hair she was blessed with?

"Convenience," she says, "forced me to chop them off!

"I have no time to take care and maintain my hair. It is the least important thing to me. I drive, cook, clean. It's a one-woman show at my home and, hence, no time to look after myself."

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Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook

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Life's a marathon for this single mom

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This former fitness expert's day starts incorporates activities around Vihaan's school and therapy. The car also doubles up as Vihaan's changing and dinning room, because to beat the clock, she has to pick him up from school and then drive him to his therapy session in Andheri a western suburb.

After the session, they go to a park for their recreational activity.

Sayuri also has a unique way for speed training.

She makes Vihaan cycle on the road and runs alongside. Now she has added swimming her routine, since she wanted her 'special son to learn to swim'.

Like mother, Vihaan has also taken to athletics. On April 2, at a meet organised on World Autism Day, she had the joy of seeing him win a race in his category. Though it was just two km, and with minimum practice, her boy did make it evident that he possessed his mother's running genes.

Please click Next to read more about Amazing Sayuri!


Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook

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Today, the mother and son are the talk of the town.

At the park she visits regularly people wonder if she is Vihaan's sister or mother! 

She rides a single-seater, Royal Enfield Bullet that sends out a clear 'don't-mess-with-me message.

Ask her what keeps her going, and pat comes the reply: "My son! Minus Vihaan I could not think of anything. There was no motivation, but with Vihaan and his special needs I have something to look forward to. I need to get him to a certain level."

Sayuri signed up for the Bangalore Ultra marathon in November as she wants to come out of her comfort zone. The fighter in her pushed her complete the demanding 50 km with severe bout of cold and cough.

Next year, she plans to switch to the triathlon because running, she says "is becoming mundane."

Surely, it will not surprise if that endurance test, which comprises running, swimming and cycling over various distances in succession, also turns out to be a piece of cake for her.

After all, like most mothers, when the going gets tough, she gets going!


Photographs: Courtesy: Sayuri Dalvi/Facebook

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