RI District 3232 organised the Rotary Run for Indian Army on December 16 to mark Vijay Diwas, the anniversary of the Indian Armed Forces’ victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. “We had organised a marathon for the Indian Army for the first time to create awareness among the youth about the valour of our soldiers who fought and won the 13-day war that ended in the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers,” said DG N Nandakumar. The event suits Rotary well as it comes “under our focus area of Peace and Conflict Resolution, besides giving us a big public image boost,” he added.
In this first edition of the 3.5/6km marathon over 5,000 participants — 1,500 Army men, 3,500 Rotarians, Rotaractors and college students — 60 bikers and 100 cyclists displayed their patriotism with enthusiasm, put on Rotary t-shirts and either ran, walked or rode their way from the Army Golf Course, Island Grounds, at the stroke of dawn.
Flagged off jointly by Nandakumar and Dakshin Bharat Area General Officer Commanding Lt Gen A Arun, the runners and bikers went around the neighbourhoods of the Army Golf Course and coursed through the Marina beach road before returning to the start point. “This event was made possible with the support of 50 Rotary clubs, the Army and event sponsor Mobis India Foundation. RID 3232 will continue Run for Indian Army as an annual programme,” said the DG. Thanking Mobis, he said the company had earlier sponsored an Olympiad sports meet in August for 10,000 students from government schools which was attended by three state ministers, city mayor and other officials.
Thank you, Rotary
“Over the last two years of my stay in Chennai, I have said ‘Thank you, Rotary’ many times as the district Rotary clubs have stood with us, providing emotional support to the Armed Forces and war veterans,” said Lt Gen Arun.
District Olympiad and Marathon chairman Vinod Nair from RC Chennai Galaxy, said, “If we and our families are safe today, it is due to the valiant efforts of our soldiers. Let us salute the Indian Army.” DRR Gowtham Raj said, “we feel proud to run for the Army and this will motivate the youngsters.” Around 2,200 Rotaractors from 100 clubs ran the marathon.
Lalitha, aged 88, whose husband, Lt Colonel A O Alexander, was killed in action during the 1971 war, came all the way from Kottayam, Kerala, to participate in the Rotary Run. “Lalitha embodies the Indian Army from A to Z and is a good friend to all of us,” said Lt Gen Arun. She, along with Nandakumar, Arun and Nair, cut a 51kg cake on the podium to mark the 51st anniversary of the war victory.
All the runners and riders got commemorative medals and were served breakfast after the marathon. While a live military band kept the mood upbeat, Zumba trainer Deepashree, president, RC Madras Mount, danced to some peppy film numbers which was followed by the audience. Earlier, yoga instructor Nidhi Sharma performed simple exercises that dispelled the inertia among the early morning runners. PDGs I S A K Nazar, G Chandramohan and former DRFC M Ambalavanan were among those present. TV anchor Nandhini from RC Chennai Dynamic compered the stage show.