KARISHMA HASNAT reports on Pinkathon – dubbed as India’s biggest women run that seeks to empower women through health awareness initiatives and encourage them to lead an active lifestyle. The run is being organized for the first time in Guwahati this year.
The superwoman in India leading a modern lifestyle has to be on her toes every day – her strong shoulders can seemingly carry a lot of responsibilities, and fulfilling them becomes all the more easy if she keeps fit. You don’t need to attend a fitness bootcamp to be strong and powerful like the Superwoman you admired in DC comics. All you have to do is lift your feet off the ground and run, or simply walk ahead on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Pinkathon gives you a chance to do that – among the other seven cities in the Pinkathon series this year, India’s biggest women’s run will be held in Guwahati on September 27, 2015 at the Sonaram High School field at Bharalumukh. Over 4000 women from far and near Kamrup Metropolitan district and also, Meghalaya are expected to paint the town pink on this special day.
The event aims to raise awareness on the importance of women leading an active lifestyle, primarily focusing on the very important health issue of breast cancer – its causes and prevention. According to a report published in the Indian Journal of Cancer, 2014, women living for many years in rural areas adhere to a lifestyle protective against the risk of developing breast cancer. This leaves the urban woman at an increased risk and more vulnerable than their rural counterparts. The analysis was based on data collected from invasive breast cancer cases registered across India and the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim. Pinkathon not only gives the benefit of free medical check-up for each participant, but also a mammogram if the participant is over the age of 45.
Organized in association with the United Sisters Foundation, Pinkathon was conceptualized by Bollywood actor, model and athlete Milind Soman who has the reputation of running barefoot and is widely loved as ‘Ironman’ after winning the toughest Ironman Trialthon in Zurich, Switzerland earlier this year.
“I would be invariably happy to see women in Guwahati come forward and take part in Pinkathon and in fact, take up running as a regular activity. We do not see women’s health and society as isolated from each other,” says Milind.
The team at Pinkathon is also committed to spread awareness on social causes by being actively involved with various NGOs working for the uplift of women and children in India. Milind leads a team of committed Pinkathon ambassadors who travel across the country, empowering and encouraging women, and raising awareness on the need to lead an active lifestyle.
Queen Hazarika, singer and Pinkathon ambassador from Guwahati says, “I am here to support freedom, and encourage women to break all taboos and lead a confident life – not defined by rules or conditions. Being fit is very essential for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of every woman.”
The State Bank of India along with leading corporate houses and educational institutions has pledged support to every Pinkathon event, promoting the need to stay fit and healthy. Pinkathon offers the running distances of 3km, 5km, 10kms and the half marathon distance of 21kms giving each registered participant an opportunity to run or walk in their comfort zone. In previous runs held across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and Chennai, Pinkathon has witnessed massive participation and the team hopes for a good response in Guwahati as well, where the run is being organized for the first time. The goal for Pinkathon is to eventually become the biggest women’s run in the world, and to have more than 75,000 women participants across eight cities in 2015-16.
SBI Pinkathon, Guwahati has also introduced a number of unique pre-cursor events as part of their big run –
The team had recently organized a training session for visually-impaired girls at the government-run School for Blind at Bashishta, Guwahati. A team of six enthusiastic girls are being encouraged and specially trained by able volunteers from Bidang MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fitness academy for the main run.
“I am so happy to have been chosen for Pinkathon. I love to knit and stitch, and sometimes get to take part in school sports. But, today I felt wonderful and rejuvenated to run together with my friends,” says 15 year old Lavita Deka, a ninth standard student at the residential School for the Blind.
As required, with every visually-impaired participant, the sighted runner who has volunteered to train them will be running alongside at the main event. All visually-impaired runners and their partners will be presented with a medal in Braille, inscribed with the words ‘I run, I inspire’.
Another initiative by the Guwahati Pinkathon team was to organize the Cancer Shero Trek at Gandhi Mandap. It was an attempt to encourage cancer survivors to try something new in a friendly environment and in presence of their family members and friends. Sheros Dr Minoti Borthakur, Monali Bharadwaj, Dr Jayantimala among others lent support to the mission.
“I found myself all alone when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My daughter was my only hope for survival then. There were a few good people around, but I had to endure the physical and emotional stress to finally come out as a survivor. I wanted to organize an event on breast cancer awareness in Assam, but with limited resources I couldn’t achieve this dream. When I learned about Pinkathon, I wrote to them and expressed my desire to support the cause, and since then I have been involved as an ambassador empowering women in my land to care for their health,” says Monali who plans to run a distance of 3km at the main event.
Apart from these significant events, the team will organize an awareness workshop on personal hygiene, cervical cancer and breast cancer awareness at the UTSAH (Universal Team for Social Action and Help) foundation in Guwahati. Ironman Milind Soman is expected to interact with the women and children of the NGO and spend good time with them.
There will also be a promotional run with Milind Soman, in which registered participants will gather at the Cricket Coaching Centre at Dispur and take part in the Celebration Run, followed by a rickshaw race led by Ironman himself.
Also a part of the pre-cursor event is the baby-wearing walk where pregnant women, and women with babies strapped to their bodies will be trained to take part at the main event. The concept of baby wearing is aimed to promote a closer bond between the mother and the child, increasing the baby’s exposure to the mother’s daily lifestyle.
The Pinkathon team led by Milind Soman will also run from Guwahati to Shillong on September 19 to promote the event and encourage participation.
Participants who plan to run a trek of 21 kms on the big day will each be accompanied by an experienced runner to help them achieve their goal and also to provide safety along the route. A day before the main run, registered participants are expected to gather for a pink carnival at the venue to collect their running bib numbers and goodie bags, also called the ‘Little Pink Bags’. A variety of fun activities including Flash Mob and Zumba sessions will also be organized at the venue.