Worse than the pain and trauma of losing my leg was when the doctor told me that I would be able to walk, but never run. At that moment, I decided I would prove him wrong,” says Kiran Kanojia, (29) a blade runner from Hyderabad, who will run the half marathon in Mumbai on January 17 for the second time. She is the only woman blade runner to participate in the 21-km this year.
Also read: Meet Himanshu Kumar, India's blade runner
Running the 21 km in Mumbai in 2015
On December 24, 2011, a day before she turned 25, Kiran was travelling from Hyderabad to Faridabad on work. Two men barged into her train compartment and tried snatching her rucksack. “Since my bag was fastened to my shoulder, the men dragged me, to the door of the train and pushed me out. My left leg got caught between the doors and was crushed,” said Kiran, her voice breaking on the phone. Her leg had to be amputated below the knee.
She battled depression for months afterwards, but a shiny new blade in June 2014 gave her a second lease of life. Kiran mustered the courage to run the Hyderabad half marathon with a blade. She recalls the painful, but treasured memory. “I was in immense pain as the blade and stump kept rubbing against each other, but I was determined to finish the run, and I am glad I did. I was a different person after I crossed that finish line.”
Having run a fair number of long distance races now, Mumbai is still special for Kiran, who says the city’s marathon has an other-worldly feel to it. “There is so much energy in the air. Every minute, there are people cheering for you. That makes you want to keep running. I will keep running the Mumbai marathon for as long as I can,” she said, adding that the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) is her favourite portion of the route, thanks to its aesthetic vibe.
“There are so many challenges in running with a blade. Running for 21 km on a tar road is very difficult. It puts immense pressure on the blade. I damaged my blade last year, because of excessive training,” she added. While she clocked 2 hrs, 44 mins last year, she wants to finish within 2.40 this time.
Most runners aspire to beat their personal bests in the event, so Kiran is no different. The fact though, that she has put ability over disability, makes her one of the biggest inspirations in a race that throws up several soul stirring statements about bravery and self-belief.