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Monday, Jan 17, 2005

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When they all ran for a cause

P.T. Jyothi Datta

Far from the boardroom battles, Mr Anil Ambani, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries, at the Second Mumbai Marathon. He ran a total 28 km, including the 7-km Dream Run in Mumbai on Sunday. - Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai , Jan. 16

JUST over 16 weeks ago, Mr Edwin Andrade had undergone a bypass surgery. But that did not stop the 38-year old Goan from putting on his jogging shoes on Sunday morning to participate in the Second Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

The dream to participate in the marathon came true for Andrade when his doctor said that not only could he have "a normal life" after a bypass, but he would also be fit for the dream run!

And this is just one story from the lives of about 25,000 participants who ran in what is touted to be Asia's biggest marathon.

An employee with an off-shore oil drilling company, Mr Andrade was part of a 50-plus team of people recovering from heart-related ailments. They participated in the seven-kilometre `Dream Run'.

While the heart-patients' courage is inspiring, their supervisor, Dr Aashish Contractor, of Asian Heart Institute, pointed out to the broader message of good-health and well-being.

Some ran for health while others ran for senior citizens, the blind, the children, the tsunami victims and for AIDS awareness. In fact, the over-arching feature in this marathon was the out-pouring of corporate and celebrity support for social causes.

The day started with a five-kilometre `Silver Run', organised by Harmony, an initiative by Ms Tina Ambani for senior citizens. Senior citizens were egged on by Mr Anil Ambani and Mr Adi Godrej, besides silver screen's Mr Amitabh Bachchan, Ms Jaya Bachchan and Mr Abhishek Bachchan.

Far from the battles of the board - room, the Reliance Industries Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Anil Ambani, ran the half-marathon of 21 kilometres, besides the Dream Run.

According to his office, the junior Ambani improved on his timing by two minutes, at 1 hour 27 minutes and 31 seconds for the half-marathon.

Although expected to participate, Mr Mukesh Ambani and his wife were conspicuous by their absence, an official with the event said.

Some of the other celebrities who ran for charities across the country were Kapil Dev, Rahul Bose and Nandita Das.

The marathon was not just about running, but was also about giving, said Ms Jasmine Wadhawan of GiveIndia, the marathon's official charity. Money pledged by individuals, corporates and celebrities will be routed through GiveIndia.

This year has seen more corporate support, about 25 corporates are running for a cause, said Ms Wadhawan. TCS had the biggest team running this year, with 150 employees, she said. Others included ICICI, Bank of America, HSBC, KPMG, McKinsey, Novartis and Pfizer.

Kenyan athlete Julius Sugut won the marathon and the purse of $30,000. The total prize money for the event was an estimated $2,10,000.

But for the physically challenged who participated in the marathon for the first time, it was a very different sense of victory that they walked away with.

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