Tribal runners Somnath (left) and Narayan Pawara yesterday
Tribal runners Somnath (left) and Narayan Pawara yesterday

Despite running on the streets of Mumbai for the first time, and that too barefoot, tribal runners — Narayan Pawara, 18, and Somnath Pawara, 19 — stood out in the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon at Bandra-Kurla Complex yesterday.

Narayan and Somnath completed the 10-km race in sixth and seventh place, respectively, to lead the group of 25 tribal runners from Shirpur taluka of Maharashtra's Dhule district.

Narayan registered a timing of 34 minutes while Somnath was just behind him to finish in 34.30m. After the Mumbai experience, the entire group of 25 have realised the importance of running with shoes.

"I was little scared since I was running in such a big marathon for the first time. I didn't know the exact route and hence got confused on a few turns. An injury to my left heel that occurred while running too thwarted me. I have now decided to practice with shoes and prepare for the Singapore half marathon in December," Narayan told mid-day yesterday. Somnath is determined to build on his positive showing. "This was a very good learning experience for all of us. With opportunities like these I am confident we will come up with better performances," he said.

Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal's Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (SVKM-NMIMS), who sponsored these tribal runners for yesterday's event first decided to send the top performer among the tribal group for the Singapore half marathon later this year. Yesterday, they decided to send Somnath along with Narayan.

Clearly, it's a win-win situation for Narayan and Somnath who come from the humblest of backgrounds.