This article is published in partnership with Pinkathon Day
He is a Limca record holder who ran 1,500 km in 30 days. He completed the Ironman challenge in 15 hours and 19 minutes in his maiden attempt and nailed the Ultrathon in Florida, covering 520 km in 3 days in 2017.
Milind Soman has been running marathons for over 15 years now.
Speaking to The Better India, he recalls, “I was a few years into marathons, and saw that running as a sport or fitness activity was gaining a lot of attention across the country. Every town, big or small, was organising marathons to promote healthy living. What bothered me though, was the participation of women. Why weren’t many women running? What held them back? How could we make their voices heard and get them to step out confidently to run?”
Pinkathon was born in the quest to answer those questions.
Co-founded by Milind Soman and Reema Sanghvi, Pinkathon is India’s biggest women’s run, organised across eight cities in the country. It aims to encourage and promote fitness and health among women while creating awareness about issues related to their health.
What began as a 10K run is a full-fledged women empowerment movement today. From corporate leaders to homemakers, cancer survivors and women with disability and baby-wearing moms, this movement has seen women from all walks of life run in solidarity.
And while each of the eight cities has a unique edition of the Pinkathon, this year will see a unique attempt where the founders will host the run in association with Tata Salt Lite.
To be held on 21st October across 63 cities and six countries in 130 locations, the Pinkathon Day powered by TATA Salt Lite is set to be one of the biggest running events with over 11,000 participants.
“When we started in 2012, we had about 2,000 women participating. And though the turnout was relatively small, the kind of enthusiasm displayed by the women was extraordinary and inspiring. Today, we are looking at over 11,000 participants for Pinkathon Day. It has been a six-year journey, full of learnings.”
Unlike Pinkathon, Pinkathon Day doesn’t restrict its participants to women but aims to include their families too.
As the movement gained momentum, the team started getting calls from across the country to organise it in their locations.
“And so, this year we decided to organise Pinkathon Day, encouraging anyone who wanted to participate in the run to do it wherever they resided, within the country or even outside.”
Ambassadors were identified and tasked with registrations, while Pinkathon handheld them through the process of organising the event.
“We decided to keep the number low because the organisers were doing it for the first time. While we were expecting about 5,000 participants, the number has risen to 11,000!” beams Milind.
All the running over the last six years has introduced him to hundreds of inspiring women.
When asked to share some of those interactions, he says, “Every single woman I meet during Pinkathon has inspired me. Each of them has their own stories. Housewives, cancer survivors, blind women, baby-wearing mothers, corporate leaders, employees–they are all heroes. These women have lived their lives for everyone around them for the longest time, but are now wanting to do something for themselves. The thought itself is inspiring.”
One of the strongest examples is 103-year-old veteran sprinter Man Kaur, who is also the mascot of Pinkathon. She started running at 93 and is a world champion today.
Milind says, “The message of Pinkathon is clear. Women, we need you. Your families need you, and not just your children, but your society, your country needs you. The need of this hour and this time is for women to come together as a community to drive positivity in progress and good health for all, starting with themselves!”
As Pinkathon mascot and ambassador, Man Kaur travelled with the team across the country, she shared her secret to a mentally and physically healthy life with thousands of women, inspiring them all.
“In the last 6 years, Ambassadors of Pinkathon have been relentless and unflagging in their efforts to spread this message and build this community from the ground up, in each and every household. Each Ambassador is tasked with starting a running group especially for women, around their place of residence, and dedicating at least one hour per week to a meet up and run session. In the eight cities of Pinkathon, Ambassadors are doing their bit. It is time to spread the word as far and wide as possible,” adds Milind.
“In a country like ours, with a culture that has no tradition of sports-for-all, or exercise or of healthy lifestyle practices, change is needed, and women are the key to that change,” he signs off.
So what are you waiting for? Let every woman proudly celebrate ‘Har Ghar Mein Pinkathon’.
If you are in India, put on your running shoes to run in solidarity for 5 km at 6.30 am on 21st October 2018. For those in the Middle East and the Maldives, the event will be held on Friday 19th October 2018 since it is a weekly holiday.
The first Pinkathon Day powered by TATA Salt Lite will be celebrated on 21st October 2018 across India to promote fitness and health for all women. Find more details here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)