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This article was first published 20 years ago  » Sports » My day in the sun

My day in the sun

By Salil Kumar
Last updated on: February 16, 2004 19:10 IST
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My day in the sun

Have you seen Forrest Gump, for which Tom Hanks received an Oscar in 1994?

The story follows the life of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), who is woefully short on IQ, and his meeting with the love of his life, Jenny Curran.

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There are many things wonderful about that movie, and this is one of it: One day Forrest Gump decides, "for no particular reason", to go for "a little run". That little run turns into a three-year, five-month, and two day-marathon.

Newsmen, naturally, flock to him:

A reporter asks him: Why are you running?

Another questions: Are you doing this for world peace?

A third asks: Are you doing this for women's rights? More questions follow, like: are you running for the environment? Or for animals? Or for nuclear arms?

Forrest: [voice-over] They just couldn't believe that somebody would do all that running for no particular reason.

Reporter: Why are you doing this?

Forrest: I just felt like running.

For anyone who does not run, but wants to run, that scene is inspiring, because, dumbness apart, it requires a certain strength of character to keep going like that… to switch off your brain and tell yourself to ignore the pain.

I thought of Forrest Gump before the gun indicating the start of Mumbai marathon's 'Dream Run' went off.

For someone who has never been much of a runner, I could do with some inspiration.

Before the race I had joked that the organisers had conspired to keep me behind, among the crowd, so that I could not overtake the Michael Powells and Paul Tergats; that the world would sit up and take notice of this star that would streak across the finish line in a blinding flash. I would take my place among the pantheons of running greats. Humankind would forever remember February 15, 2004.

Alas, that was not to be. I didn't travel faster than the speed of light; I rather hauled my bum across the finish line. And there were no flashbulbs to capture that moment of glory. By the time I finished, in fact, all journalists had probably reached home and slept.

It is more than 24 hours now.

I can say that to call my timing modest or less than stellar would be an understatement. A microsecond before the right foot went over the finish line, the electronic clock overhead said in green: 49:59.

Hendrick Ramaala would probably have cantered home; 7 km in 16 minutes?

But I will follow a maxim. I will look at the glass and say it is half full.

What happened on Sunday was certainly not great when one looks at the greater scheme of things. But on an individual level it was a Eureka! moment.

Most of those who ran alongside me had something to prove to themselves.

My colleague, who was pretty physically active during his college days, said he wanted to see if he, at 34, still had it in him to run 7km. He did have it in him. He finished around three minutes ahead of me.

A couple of days before the race I spoke to an 80-year-old gentleman who said he was "running for fun". He, of course, added, "And I am not totally running. I am going to be walking a good way."

I am yet to ask him how he fared, but I am sure he didn't disappoint himself.

There were around 20,000 such stories on that day, and each more inspiring than the other.

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Salil Kumar

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