Endurothon Gateway Challenge for Polio Awareness

L to R: Rtn Sandip Agarwalla, Narahari, Wg Cdr Param Vir Singh, Rajashree Birla, PRID Ashok Mahajan and Club President Sonya Mehta.
L to R: Rtn Sandip Agarwalla, Narahari, Wg Cdr Param Vir Singh, Rajashree Birla, PRID Ashok Mahajan and Club President Sonya Mehta.

Wg Cdr Param Vir Singh and his colleague G Narahari of the Indian Air Force, stationed at the DSSC, Wellington in the Niligiris, successfully set the mark for the toughest Triathlon, the Endurothon Gateway Challenge, at Mumbai. Supporting the event, Rotary Clubs of Bombay, D 3140, and ­Nilgiris, D 3202, used the opportunity to create awareness among the public about Rotary’s role in the eradication of polio and importance of continuing the polio immunisation exercise for children aged under-5 to prevent any resurgence of the virus, although India has been declared Polio-free. BookaSmile, a BookMyShow vertical that supports social causes, provided logistical and financial support.

The event was flagged off by Rajashree Birla at the Gateway of India in Mumbai on February 25. She is the second largest individual benefactor of Rotary’s Polio programme, having given, till date, over $ 9 million to Rotary for the Polio mission. PRID Ashok Mahajan addressed the gathering, giving an account of the extent of Rotary’s involvement in the Polio programme, risk due to presence of the virus in the neighbouring countries and the funding gap to be met to complete the eradication work world over.

The Endurothon consisted of three athletic disciplines, swimming, cycling and running. Wg Cdr Singh plunged into the sea at the Gateway of India after the flag-off. The 70 km swim from the Gateway to Aksa Beach was completed by the two in a relay sequence, in about 10 hours. They then cycled via Nasik, passing through the Kasara Ghats and Igatpuri to reach Pune, covering a distance of 400 km in 27 hours. The last leg of the Endurothon comprised running approximately 170 km back to the Gateway of India, climbing the Lonavala and Khandala ghats and down to Khopoli and Panvel. This was the toughest part of the event as by now they had gone without sleep and rest for about 37 hours.

Oblivious of the record-breaking feat they had just achieved, the duo strolled into the Gateway monument at 4.15 p m on February 28. Some members of the TiE Mumbai, one of the sponsors of the event, joined the run for the last 3 km to cheer them on. Rotarians and Rotaractors clad in the trademark End Polio yellow vests and blue and yellow caps lined up along with the 4,000-plus audience to welcome the heroes. Dr Sonya Mehta, President of RC Bombay, honoured them.

Rtn Vijay Kumar Dar, President of RC Nilgiris said that last October his club had supported Wg Cdr Singh and promoted the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative when he had undertaken a 43-day marathon swimming the entire length of the river Ganga starting from Devprayag in Uttarakhand and ending at Gangasagar in West Bengal, where the river flows into the Bay of Bengal (a total distance of 2,800 km). n

 

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