Dhule's famous 'barefoot runners' to compete in Singapore international event

Updated: Nov 29, 2017, 11:33 IST | Subodh Mayure | Mumbai

This time, however, the tribal runners will not run barefooted and don shoes, thanks to help from Good Samaritans

Five tribal runners from Dhule's Shirpur will make their international debut in Singapore this week. Narayan Pawara, 18, and Somnath Pawara, 19, who came sixth and seventh in the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon last August despite running barefoot, will run the Singapore Half Marathon on December 3 with Ashwini Chaudhari, Chetana Patel and Jagan Pawara.

The runners at Raj Bhavan yesterday
The runners at Raj Bhavan yesterday

Yesterday, runners Narayan Pawara, Somnath Pawara, Ashwini Chaudhari, Chetana Patel and Jagan Pawara were invited for breakfast with the Governor of Maharashtra, C Vidyasagar Rao, who lent his ear to the difficulties and challenges they face as tribals. "Sir [the Governor] spoke to us about our records, running timings, how we practise, where we stay and what our parents do for a living. He assured us support in every way," Narayan told mid-day yesterday. Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal's Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (SVKM-NMIMS), who sponsored these tribal athletes for the Mumbai half marathon in August, have extended support for the
Singapore event as well.

Teenaged runners Jagan Pawara (left), Somnath Pawara, SVKM-NMIMS vice-chairman Navin Shetty, Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, Chetana Patel, Ashwini Chaudhari and Narayan Pawara (right)
Teenaged runners Jagan Pawara (left), Somnath Pawara, SVKM-NMIMS vice-chairman Navin Shetty, Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, Chetana Patel, Ashwini Chaudhari and Narayan Pawara (right)

"The mid-day article [published on August 21, 2017] about these tribal runners made a very big impact. A lot of people and corporate houses came forward to support the tribal children. "On reading the article, a friend of mine - Rakesh Roshan - called to say that he had kept aside Rs 20 lakh for these tribal runners to be utilised at any given time," said Navin Shetty, SVKM-NMIMS vice-chairman. "It's a dream come true for us. We never even thought about running on the roads of Mumbai and now… Singapore. We have learnt a lot from our last experience and will now run with proper shoes. "We have trained very hard for the Singapore run and will put our best foot forward," assured Somnath.

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