Many of us believe that running is just another sport and do not know the joy it gives.
Ask Haruki Murakami, the world-renowned fiction writer, who started running on an everyday basis after he began writing and penning wonderful books such as Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood among others. In one of his books on Running, he wrote – “the thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
That’s what running offers – the ability to think clearly and freely; the time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. And that was the intention behind starting Go Heritage Runs – to give you the joy of running at a heritage site.
In the last two years, Go Heritage Runs have been organized in Bidar and Hampi, and in addition to serious and regular runners, travelers, cyclists, families, children and nature lovers also have warmed up to the idea of running in a heritage city.
Heritage is the main attraction
Vinayak Joshi, a multifaceted creative personality (actor, RJ, VJ), who ran the 11k at the Go Heritage Run organized in Hampi in January 2015 says, “Hampi is a scenic place in Karnataka and such runs would give marathoners an opportunity to run in heritage sites and spread awareness about the need for their conservation and protection.”
While visiting a heritage city or a place is generally a touristy activity, with Go Heritage Runs, you get a different perspective. You are no longer just a runner or a traveller. By running in a heritage place, you become a contributor to spreading awareness about its ruins, relics, monuments and culture. “It gave me a sense of pride to claim my participation in the Hampi marathon to other runner friends, and it makes me glad that I’m able to contribute in some way,” says Vinayak.
For Gita’s family, running is a rather holistic experience. Gita, her husband Prasad and their sons Kaushal and Aditya started participating in the 2k and 3k runs, conducted by the Hyderabad Runners since 2014. The aim, she says, is to see and enjoy most of India whenever they can.
“We have always wanted to visit Bidar, but because it is quite close to Hyderabad, we kept postponing our visit,” says Gita. But when they came to know about the Go Heritage Run being organized in Bidar, they immediately firmed up their plans to participate in the run. She says, “we had an opportunity to run outside the main fort (in Bidar). We walked and ran through the streets while the local folks cheered us on. We were able to spend a few minutes near the Madrasa and the tower to take pictures and speak to the people. “The proximity to different sights and the size of the structures suddenly made sense. Although driving past these same monuments took only a few minutes, walking took longer and we were able to learn a lot more,” says Gita.
A true travel enthusiast, Gita and her family also participated in the Go Heritage Run – Hampi held on January 25, 2015. She reminisces how they ran through the difficult Hampi terrain that is not easily accessible by car. “The day prior to the run we were able to see the main sights at Hampi. On the day of the run, we explored some of the lesser known sights by the Tungabhadra River. Suddenly, the Hampi Bazaar, its proximity to the Tungabhadra and the temples along the river made complete sense to us,” she says.
Run for the entire family
One of the main reasons Gita and her family are a regular at the Go Heritage Runs is because it gives them the opportunity to spend some quality time together. “The itinerary is varied and the kids are not too bored to learn a few new things along the way, says Gita.
She recounts an incident where they were shocked when her younger son, who is 6 years old, ran into his class mate during the Bidar run. Until then they had no idea that there were other families who enjoyed running together as well. “We saw this phenomena over and over again. We realized that there were a number of people with similar goals and such events gave you so many bonding opportunities,” says Gita.
For Gita, her family and many such heritage lovers and travel enthusiasts, this is just one such medium to explore the vast heritage of our country. Gita’s bucket list also includes Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Konark, Rani-ki-vav. “These places are on our bucket list and we would love to experience them by walking or running,” says Gita.
Making runs fun
For twelve years, K. Ravikumar, aged 34, has been an active participant in marathon running events. When he heard about heritage runs in Hampi, he immediately kindred to the idea of running in a heritage place. “I felt that this is such a fun way to explore heritage places. Frankly I’m lucky to be able to run at such historical locations,” says Ravi.
Like Gita, Ravi also has participated in both Bidar and Hampi marathons organized by Go Heritage Runs. Ravi says, “More than anything else, running in a heritage site makes for a very memorable experience.”
Murakami would concur, and so would we – nothing like the beauty of a heritage site etched in our memories.