Ultrarunner Ashish Kasodekar (51) from Pune, a wellness influencer on social media, wanted to inspire people to be fit and agile; his achievement of running a full marathon — 42km every day for 61 consecutive days last year brought the ‘Eureka moment’ in him.
He realised that he had run a distance of approximately 2,560km, from Pune to Ladakh, while running the full marathons for two months to enter the Guinness Book of Records which was previously held by a European who had run for 58 days.
From June 1, Kasodekar ran from Kuttanad, the lowest point in mainland India at 4–10 feet below sea level, for 76 consecutive days to reach Umling La, Ladakh, at 19,300 feet, on August 15
covering a distance of 4,000km, to mark the 76th Independence Day. “Ashish travelled across 10 states and spread the message of fitness among people he met. He was given a warm send-off from Kuttanad by locals and when he arrived in Pune during his run, all of us gathered to give him a rousing welcome,” says Shailesh Sirsikar, joint secretary and director, Public Image Committee, RC Pune Pride, RID 3131.
The Low2High campaign by Kasodekar got a thumbs-up from soldiers, Army commanders, Rotarians, NGOs and fitness buffs in the course of his cross-country run. The club members through a fitness app, Pacer, also recorded their steps (walking, running, trekking) each day in the course of his 76-day mission. “In fact, more than 50,000 people including Rotarians, children and people of all age groups across the country used this app during this time, so that Kasodekar can see the cumulative steps taken by citizens,” he explains. The solo marathon campaign has created a new sense of fitness awareness among Rotary clubs in Pune and beyond, he smiles.
As one of the brand ambassadors of Fit India movement, Kasodekar inspired people along the way with a simple tagline, Hum fit, toh Bharat fit (If we are fit, India is fit), thus spreading awareness about fitness and encouraging them “to embark on their paths of healthy life and well-being.” When he reached Umling La, his finish line, five members from RC Pune Pride were there to greet him and they spread aloft the national flag to celebrate the Independence Day.
Recalling his feat, Kasodekar says, “I would run from 6am to 4.30pm, after which my three-member physiotherapy team would take care of me. My interaction was restricted to locals and I didn’t encourage people running with me on the highways.” He donated sports kits to 76 zilla parishads schools to inculcate fitness regimen among students on the way.
While a lot of positivity was generated in the fitness movement out of Low2High campaign, he says, “I am looking forward to do something similar in the coming days with the help of Rotary clubs.” Recently, his organisation, Simple Steps Fitness joined hands with RC Pune Pride, in which he is an honorary member, to hold a mini marathon (3/5km) for over 600 senior citizens. They were all given medals and certificates. For details of his mission, log on to: www.low2high.in