Over 300 people participated in the 10th edition of the Mumbai Marathon under the banner of Salaam Bombay Foundation — an NGO that works with children on issues related to tobacco abuse. Among these was 32-year-old Saugat Bhattacharya, who completed the half marathon with a timing of 02:46:43.
Only a year ago, Bhattacharya used to smoke anywhere between 15 to 20 cigarettes daily — a fact that led Salaam Bombay Foundation to reject his application to run for them last year, according to Devika Chadha, Program Director with Salaam Bombay Foundation.
The rejection, however, came as a blessing in disguise as it spurred the production and post-production company owner to turn his life around.
Bhattacharya, recollecting the time after his application was rejected, says, “I could not control my body earlier. Cigarettes controlled my life. The rejection led me to quit smoking and wrest back control of myself.”
In fact, Bhattacharya now also has a Facebook page, called gsgconnect, along with a Twitter handle and a YouTube page where he hopes to inspire others to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Bhattacharya, who trained for four-and-a-half months to get in shape for the marathon, adds, “I wanted to set an example for my two-and-a-half-year-old son and my soon-to-be-born kid. I wanted them to see me as a fitter person and not a smoker. Kids tend to pick up habits from their parents.”
Although his half marathon timing was not as per his expectations, Bhattacharya says that he was satisfied with just finishing. “This was my first race, so I was content after completing it. There will be many more marathons in the future,” he says, with a promise to better his record in the next edition.