Rightly said, the only thing that is constant is change. But I’d like to add to it. Drastic changes in life only happen if you keep working towards your goals tirelessly.
Hi, I am Bhumika Patel, 44; Global Program Manager – Cybersecurity at IBM.
I started running in 2009, but it was since 2013 that my running career flourished. I represented India at World Master Athletics Championships in Brazil. I participated in first Pinkathon with 3000 women from my company winning the Award for Best Corporate participation-IBM, Maximum Participation from a corporate – IBM and won my first Pinkathon 5k (individual) and corporate 5k team winner. With the same awards in 2014, this time with 2000 women from IBM; I also won the first prize in 21 k and the Hero of Pinkathon award. This continued in 2015, when I completed my First International at London Marathon and made yet another 21k podium at Pinkathon. This was when I began volunteering for Pinkathon Training with Milind Soman’s encouragement and soon as Headcoach for the Blind People’s Association Ahmedabad, Devnar School For Blind-Hyderabad, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and Mitra Jyoti Institute for Blind, and several homes for visually impaired across India.
Today I lead corporate/women running teams in various locations across India.
In 2015 I completed my First International at London Marathon. In between the hard training days, I would try to adjust my give back to these women and kids, which I found very challenging at start but gradually I settled down into a routine. I found it very satisfying to encourage and support cancer survivors and visually impaired to run. And happiness reaches its zenith when they scale kilometres or cross the marathon finish lines.
While training non-runner women is not an easy task, training visually impaired girls from an underprivileged background can be more challenging. In 2016, I started training the visually impaired and alongside started conducted separate Guide runners’ trainings which later shifted to Cult centers across the city as workshops to sensitize about challenges faced by the visually impaired with techniques to guide them, as a part of Pinkathon training. We had to ensure a strong back up of volunteers from among the Pinkathon training girls and corporate/running community for coordination, pick up, drop, running gear collection, distribution-storage, correspondence like emails, leave applications from offices or colleges of the visually impaired, crew support during training/races etc. Amidst all this, I completed several global marathons- London, Berlin, Copenhagen,Tokyo,Chicago,Frankfurt within 4hrs.
Thus the visually impaired training resulted in stupendous team work by empowered women. My work with Pinkathon Training was recognised internationally and I was voted as GameChangers2017 ’21 Women who are transforming the world through Running’ by Women’s Running Magazine USA in 2017.
The team have evolved and become more organised and self driven over the years. There is a lot I have learnt in my journey of training the visually impaired. In spite of varying degrees of vision loss, these young girls and boys have not a thing to sulk about. The girls saw a significant improvement in fitness and timings improved over the previous runs at Pinkathon. Running workshops were conducted on running, strength training and recovery with guiding techniques and sensitization, at Cult centers across the city for men and women both, as there was growing demand to become guides. This was a major activity carried out simultaneously with visually impaired training. There was active participation from corporates and the project Received the India South Asia Outstanding Volunteer Work 2018 Award by IBM along with Grants.
These achievements were noted by media and Blind institutes contacted me after listening to news in All India Radio broadcast news for Blind and many more visually impaired were encouraged to join.
In July 2018, 15 visually impaired runners were selected from among 25 to train for the half and the full marathon on Oct 21th at Bengaluru. We started taking the necessary steps in a jiffy like conducting their blood tests, their physical assessments, planning out their workout regimen and diet charts as per their report analyses. Me and Milind already knew their grit and after witnessing their enthusiasm and achievements and in early 2018 decided that the runners who complete the full marathon will be trained for the Spirit of Pinkathon run from Mysuru to Bengaluru which is roughly 145 km. What happened in the 6 months of training, is something I will treasure for a lifetime. The guide team and the doctors kept on their toes to make sure the runners complete the runs as per plan, free of any pain or injury. There were moments of fun, laughter, pain, difficulties. The tough times always started from bringing the visually impaired to a central venue in the morning wee hours, three to four times a week. It was astonishing to see how the girls and boys actively attended trainings and later then their office/college with the same amount of enthusiasm. On Pinkathon Day/October 21, 2018, History was created as India Book of Records awarded a certificate to 23 year old visually impaired girl Suneetha N D, who became the first visually impaired girl in India to finish a full marathon (42.2km)
There were a lot many write ups, news articles, videos and interviews posted on various platforms about this event which happened from 23rd to 25th January 2019. I was stupefied by the tremendous love and appreciation by the country. Karnataka Olympic Association for the reward and the department of youth services rewarded the athletes at the finish line! And thank you Pinkathon and Milind Soman for a grand commendation. Their generous gesture will be a prime motivation not only for them but also for numerous athletes pursuing their dreams in sports. I am invited by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to run as Official Guide at the upcoming Boston Marathon 2019 and its a significant milestone in bringing International exposure and expertise to help the athletes with a brighter future!
Credit: Shradha Dalvi
You can follow my journey
Recently a group of visually impaired girls etched their names in Indian history by running their first time Full marathon! Kavya was one of the finishers at NammaBenngaluru Marathon on Oct 21st and it makes me very proud !
Accompanying her to finish line was my colleague from IBM, Nandish Kumar, who has dedicated several hours to support the trainings.
Dr Rajneet from ColumbiaAsia Hospitals, provided good support with picking up nutritious food for her and ensuring they visually impaired had access to it. He has also done a few training runs with Kavya. She was provided with new running tshirts, running tights and sports bra. We would either do breakfast or dinner together on most training days.
Kavya is a 19 yr old visually impaired girl whom I met at Samarthanam, HSR. She was recommended to me by her wall climbing instructor as a very strong athlete. Samarthanam also has a sports facility providing her with adequate wall climbing training. One fine day, she called me herself that she was keen to join running. I gladly agreed :- ) She has been very regular and consistent. Since she joined later part of training, we still have work to do with her.
During her childhood days, a kid threw a stone at her while playing, because of which she completely lost sight in one eye.
Her Interests include Wall climbing and running Marathons !
Due to her progress and achievements in sporting activities (wall climbing, long distance running), she is completely inclined towards sports and intends to pursue a career in this field.
She was placed 3rd at the national level for wall climbing for visually impaired.
She has been selected to participate in an upcoming international wall-climbing event in France.
Her father is into agriculture and her mom and younger brother lend him a helping hand.They are supporting her to pursue her dreams.
She completed her 10th in a normal school from her native place, Tumkur and joined Samarthanam institute 6 months back.
She has recently undergone a 3 months’ course in technical and sector based skill training at Samarthanam’s Livelihood Resource Centre for the disabled. Although she intends to pursue intermediate education (PUC/11th and 12th) in the future, currently, she is seeking employment.
She is ready to forego her education at this juncture, depending on her progress in sports and is extremely confident and determined to succeed.
Wishing her All the best for the upcoming race !
#VisuallyImpaired #MarathonTraining #PinkathonDayBengaluru #NammaBengaluru #PinkathonTraining #Live2Inspire
Blog credit: Rahul, Bhumika
This day was a special one for Bangaloreans as they witnessed a very rare one of its kind phenomenon where visually impaired and cancer sheros put their mark in the world of fitness and health.
It was history in the making as visually impaired girls completed Full Marathon first time in India.
Bangalore Pinkathon Girls enthusiastically participated in making Pinkathon Day a huge success. The Ambassadors and Training Leads worked hand in hand for effective execution. The leads from different locations like Cubbon, Whitefield, Kadugodi, Bellandur/HSR, Jayanagar, Bannerghatta, Indiranagar, Cox town, Malleshwaram , Budigere ,Jeevanbimanagar etc for collection and distribution of bibs and T Shirts for participants at Kanteerava Stadium.
The most remarkable thing of Bengaluru is that it has recognized and emphasized on fitness of Visually Impaired athletes and Cancer Sheros equally.
Since last 20 weeks, with a need specific training format 15 Visually impaired athletes are being rigorously trained to run a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon which is an outstanding achievement for Pinkathon Training Bengaluru. Hence the choice of marathon and 5k route was based on NammaBengaluru Marathon route for timing record purpose, as this was a record attempt which would create a name in history books.
The training format also focused on the nutrition requirements of the Visually Impaired athletes. Bengaluru has experienced a day where darkness shared vision of success. On Pinkathon day we held their hand, walked their path from the dark to the light of glory. We are proud to announce that 5 girls and 2 boys explored the joy of completing their Full Marathon. 6 visually impaired girls with strong will power finished their Debut Half Marathon.
The perfect example of ‘Pinkathon mantra of fitness’ is Geeta, 50 yrs + the colorectal Cancer Shero. Her fighting spirit and dedication has made her so strong that she attempted her maiden Half Marathon. She is also a guide runner for a Visually impaired athlete on Pinkathon Day. Geetha strongly believes that a Cancer Surviviors need strong support from family and friends. She has proved that ‘life after cancer can be beautiful’. She says she dedicates her debut Half marathon run to Head Coach Bhumika who was by her side throughout the journey conquering Minds over Miles.
Associated with Pinkathon Training as Visually Impaired guide Ravi, a colorectal cancer shero started distance running during the last 3-4 months. He participated in couple of competitive 10ks with a sub 60 minutes timing. Ravi successfully finished his half marathon in the Bangalore Marathon on 21st Oct.
“As I stepped on the running track my face enlightened and eyes sparkled. I ran 5k with lot of aspirations. I reached the finish line leaving all my anxiety and stress behind. On the race day I not only merely earned a medal but also a satisfaction and confidence that now I can live a normal life once again.” were the feeling expressed by Seema a cancer Shero who set a fitness goal on joining Pinkathon Training at Cubbon Park location.It was her maiden 5k run.
We can proudly say ‘We are the power of yesterday today and forever’.
Using COMMUNITY RUNNING as a tool, Pinkathon and it’s Ambassadors have empowered and enabled thousands of women across India to bring positive change into their lives. By understanding that by PRIORITIZING a little bit of time for themselves every day they can bring about change in physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. They can bring change in understanding the value they bring to their families and society, and respecting that value. They will be bringing change to the future of their families by INSPIRING BY EXAMPLE. Bringing the concept of health into every aspect of their lives. Making physical, mental and emotional health the driving force of every decision. The entire team of Pinkathon Ambassadors and leads had geared up as they executed every task to make the 21st Oct 2018 Pinkathon Day a huge success.
Many thanks to the team which volunteered day and night for the success of the event
The celebrations continued the week after with all locations meeting at Cubbon with prize distribution and sharing of experiences!
Bannerghatta location also had celebrations and prize distribution the following week!
Three Cheers to all who participated enthusiastically !!
#Live2Inspire #FitWomen4FitFamilies #PinkathonDay #PinkathonDayBengaluru
Blog Credit: Sucheta, Bhumika
Pic Credit: Mayur, Masud, Enthusionz