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Zend & the art of competing

Among the thousands of Mumbaikars who chose to forego their Sunday morning sleep and braved the harsh cold to participate in the 10th edition of the Mumbai Marathon yesterday, Zend Mirwan Zend caught the eye.


Helping Hand: Zend, a Parkinson’s patient with a participant and his aid Sonu Kumar (right) at the Mumbai Marathon yesterday. Pic/Sundari Iyer.

For, this 76-year-old man, leaning heavily on a walking stick and being aided by his personal assistant, was not even a registered runner. That, however, did not stop the septuagenarian from turning up and ‘competing’ from Flora Fountain to the finish line at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

Zend, afflicted with Parkinson’s disease since the last 10 years, had participated in the last edition of the Mumbai Marathon. This year too he wished to participate and raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Society — a non-profit organisation developed to work towards improving the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s.

However, he could not do so as he missed the deadline to submit his participation form. Regardless of such technicalities, Zend ‘completed’ the race some time after the dream run participants finished. “Since he was not registered, the police stopped us from entering the marathon course. But we told them that he was 76 years old and had Parkinson’s and really wanted to participate. Since most of the participants had gone past by then, the cops allowed us to pass,” said Zend’s helper for the last 10 years, Sonu Kumar.

Zend had trouble speaking after finishing. However, he articulated his motive for competing despite not being registered with a ‘never say never’. Kumar told MiD DAY that Zend, health permitting, will participate in the 2014 edition too. Parkinson’s is a neurological condition whose symptoms include slowness of movement, stiffness, and sometimes tremor and loss of balance.

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