On Monday, 19th March 2018, Shiv Nadar University hosted a half-marathon as a part of the platinum jubilee celebrations of The Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers of the Indian Army. In lieu of this, the team has been running an ultra-marathon for 50 days (1st February – 22 march 2018), covering 21kms each day in the NCR region with an aim to spread the message of “Healthy, Clean, Green, Pollution free and Happy India”. This was the team’s 47th run.
Campus Caravan was honoured to interview Lt. Col. Vishal Ahlawat, the leader of the ultra-marathon, and a distinguished member of the armed forces who has scaled Mt. Everest twice. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Q: Can you let us know what the idea behind the concept of a 50-day half marathon is?
A: I am from the core of electronics and mechanical engineers of the Indian army. On the occasion of celebrating our platinum jubilee this year, we are having a number of events, so, the 50-day half marathon stands among one of the events we have organised. As you must be aware, a team of ten members are running the half-marathon. This idea was generated through me and we are about to conclude this event and create a national as well as an international record.
Q: You have been running for the past 47 days and as you are approaching the end of your journey in three days, how do you think the response in the NCR region has been so far?
A: The response has been great, and the cause for which we are running this event is to achieve a healthy, clean, green and pollution-free India. The best part is that the youth who are participating in this event are all very motivated towards the cause and have become our brand ambassadors. This is one such cause where unless and until each one of us join our hands, we will not be able to achieve it. As far as the response is concerned, it has been phenomenal for the cause.
Q: All of the people who are serving the armed forces will be meeting a lot of people through this. So, have you met different people through this? Any interesting places that you had the chance to visit? In which regions of the NCR have you run marathons so far? Has anything interesting happened in these past two months?
A: Usually, we interact less with the civil crowd as we are an army, and it is during these events that we connect with our friends and relations, the time when we get to interact with each one of them. This kind of event gives us an opportunity to share our feelings with the normal crowd and at the same time we come to know about their responses and feelings towards the cause of the nation. As far as how interesting this event has been, we met a 13-year-old boy who was very motivated to work with our team that he went on to become associated with us from the very beginning. Over the period of time, he has developed into a great half-marathon runner who has been completing the run in 1 hour 30 minutes, which is one of the great outcomes of our event.
Q: How long does it usually take to complete a half-marathon? Do you have an idea about the average time and can you estimate the quickest run that has been so far for the past 46 days?
A: As we are setting on a record, we need to complete a minimum of 21.1 kilometres as a team. We are a ten-member team, every member is running a half marathon every day. No team member can skip a single run and each member has to complete the target of 21.1 km. As far as timing is concerned, our team members are capable of completing the run within 1 hour 30 minutes but as fatigue level keeps on increasing every day, to strike a balance, we are generally keeping a pace of 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes, generally averaging to around 2 hours 15 minutes every run.
Q: I would like to end with this question: If you were to summarize your experience of serving the armed forces in a few words, what would they be?
A: It is the best career option where you get to serve the nation with honour and pride. As far as the profession is concerned, there is no other work as noble as serving the armed forces.
Interviewer: Thank you for taking your time out for these responses, it was an honour and a pleasure talking to you.
The team would like to thank Lt.Col.Vishal Ahlawat for taking time out after the marathon to speak to us, and the administration for their support.
Curation – Neeraj Shetye
Interviewer – Ram Smaran Suresh
Final compilation and transcription – Soujanya Rangawar