Mumbai-based runner is looking for shoes for a clutch of talented Darjeeling athletes

Run with Roshni, a project started by Mumbai-based advocate Roshni Rai, is looking for sponsors to donate running shoes for a clutch of underprivileged marathon runners from Darjeeling who run under the umbrella ‘Run with Roshni’.

Roshni Rai cools off after her run at a garden in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. Pic/Shadab Khan
Roshni Rai cools off after her run at a garden in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. Pic/Shadab Khan

The Run with Roshni project is supporting this talent since 2012, to help them run marathons in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Says Rai, a marathon runner herself, “Team Run with Roshni is supporting 12 runners to run Mumbai Marathon 2016.

Post the Mumbai marathon, where they make a huge impact
Post the Mumbai marathon, where they make a huge impact

We need 12 pairs of running shoes. Even if people have second hand shoes of their sizes, (all ranging from US size 5 to 7) that would be of help.” Though the accent is on the Mumbai event, several of the runners in fact, run a very fast half-marathon (21 km) Rai says that every effort is made to give them maximum exposure. She adds, “Three runners from team Run with Roshni are running the Cherrapunji Marathon on July 17.”

Runners take the inclines with seasoned ease as they train for marathons across the country
Runners take the inclines with seasoned ease as they train for marathons across the country

Expense
The young runners come from poor families and find it difficult to buy long distance running equipment, given their financial condition. They are mostly sons and daughters of farmers from villages around Darjeeling. Rai says that these runners are currently training for the marathon in hilly areas around Darjeeling.

Kalimpong kings: and queens, in their homeland
Kalimpong kings: and queens, in their homeland

“The high altitude is beneficial. I go to Darjeeling very often, to monitor how they are training. I have approached a sportswear company for shoes for these athletes. I am also appealing to people to give running shoes. These talented youngsters wear canvas shoes and train.

Marathon runners need a couple of pairs a year, because the soles wear out due to the high amount of mileage, so I am hoping that each of these runners get at least two-three pairs, so that they can train in them.”

Roots
Rai, is originally from Pedong village, which falls in the Kalimpong sub-division, in the Darjeeling district. She says I support them because they are such good runners. We have to give them avenues and opportunities. In the end, I think these are small steps towards my ultimate aim, ensuring that Gorkha runners represent the country at an Olympics.”

Rai, who is also writing a book on the identity crisis facing Indian Gorkhas, using her personal experiences as a prism, says that she has supported more than 30 runners from Darjeeling to run seven different marathons. Out of these the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon stands out because of its international stature.

Rai is steadfast in her belief a day will come when these young Gorkhas will battle the best in the world. While working towards that, she is chipping away at stereotypes about people from the North East and clearing misconceptions. It is a tough, multi-pronged effort, but using the marathon event as a platform and vehicle, Rai believes she is getting there.

To help team Run with Roshni email for details: runwithroshni@gmail.com

What is Run with Roshni?

Project 'Run with Roshni' is started by a Gorkha girl from a village known as Pedong in the sub-division of Kalimpong, Dist, Darjeeling. Roshni is an advocate by profession and based in Mumbai. Marathon running is Roshni’s hobby and she has run several marathons including four international marathons. These are:

1. Prague International Marathon 2010 (42km), 
2. Comrades Marathon 2012 (89km) in South Africa, 
3. Maidenhead Half marathon 2013 (21km) in UK and 
4. 10km Race ‘London Run to the Beat 2014’.

Her vision is: 
>> To empower and enlighten Gorkhas in India. 
>> To eliminate the identity crisis faced by Nepali speaking Indians in India. 
>> Bringing awareness amongst Indians, about how Nepali speaking people are Indians. 
>> To bring awareness all over India, that Nepali is a recognized language under the Constitution of India and is one of the languages mentioned in the Indian currency.

Best timings of runners

Runesh Tamang: Mumbai Marathon (42km) 2013
Time: 2:51m. Third in the amateur category.

Prabal Chettri: Mumbai Half Marathon (21km) 2012 
Time: 1:17m.

Binod Tamang: Mumbai Half Marathon (21km) 2014.
Time: 1:18m.

Uttam Bhujel: Mumbai Half Marathon (21km) 2015. 
Time: 1:15m.

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