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Running off the beaten track

Tarun Walecha started running for fitness 8 years back and he is faster today than he was then, he has won many accolades and medals over the years, like any other runner of repute. Like any other runner, he has his cupboards full of the fancy souvenirs and jazzy sportswear. Like any other marathoner, he has been approached by various sports clubs to champion their events. But like none other, he extended the marathon track from the mainstream to the muted. Tarun Walecha not just invited runners from the uninitiated section to match steps with him but enabled them in spirit and kind by giving them the means and ends to do so.

Sportsman spirit on and off the track
Having been a sportsperson for most part of his life, Tarun has been encouraging runners to join him in his mission of fitness when he started running marathons. But all his successes gradually seemed inconsequential. At one such run, he was approached by a young man who wanted to run but couldn't afford to participate. Tarun leveraged his influence to procure him a place in the run and couldn't help marvel at this debutante's natural talent at sprinting. This young man finished the run much before Tarun and most others. This was a trigger for Tarun to add meaning to his passion, sports.

Being the organic experimentalist, Tarun began to run to advantage those for whom sports and fitness is, unfortunately, a rare and improbable luxury. He invited fellow runners to donate sports equipment and articles at these events and contributed it to like-minded NGOs that stressed on sports as the leveler. 'I wanted to make it more meaningful and take it forward to a larger dimension, it's a very simple idea but makes a huge difference as in running you meet others as equals, in most other platforms you meet people in a hierarchy,' says Tarun.

Mission 'Share and Care'
In 2016, Tarun organized and ran a 7-day half marathon in Delhi and invited others to join him for the cause of facilitating the non-mainstream community into sports and making it as imperative as food and water. Tarun amassed from the co-runners and other participants, about 400 T-shirts, 48 pairs of old sports shoes and 80 pairs of shorts. He gave them off to two NGOs.

His enterprise, 'Share and Care' was very well received by other sports enthusiasts who now ran for a bigger cause. In 2017, at his second 7-day half marathon Tarun collected 2000 T-shirts of which 700 were brand new, 230 pairs of shoes of which 50 were new, as well as 270 jackets and shorts. People also wanted to contribute in cash, Tarun instead, asked them to contribute for specific needs of NGOs like printers or tracking shoes. This year he extended these sports essentials to four NGOs.

An interface to mainstream
In 2018, Tarun got connected with NAZ foundation Trust, an NGO that works on HIV/AIDS and sexual health. It is here that he volunteers to train children and budding athletes in running, strengthening exercises, sharing his technical acumen, and more importantly, boosting their morale and confidence. He is the interface that can bridge the gap in our community and make fitness each individual's right and not just the monopoly of a privileged few.

While his trainees look forward to his mentorship and the easy camaraderie between them is unmistakable, Tarun believes he has gained more in the process; he has gained a purpose, he has gained a perspective that his engagements with the outer circle has brought, he has gained pragmatism that physical fitness offers, and most of all, he has gained some rewarding smiles.

He hadn't planned on the advantageous outcome of his initiative but it was a natural progression of his passion, the future plans will similarly unfold to him but he believes there is always a positive response to the same stimuli – humaneness.


Vandana Verma

Vandana Verma

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