New Delhi: In a first, India early on Sunday morning will witness its first multi-city marathon.
The 1480 kilometres long ultra-marathon, which will flag off from the national capital, will feature 15 of the best ultra marathoners from Asia, Africa, US and Europe in its inaugural edition.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel along with former star athlete Anju Bobby George will flag off the big event at India Gate.
The 'Great India Run', which is going to be an annual event and is being organised this year just ahead of the Rio Olympics, is an attempt at inspiring the people of the country to get fit. To propagate this message, the run will also see a five kilometre 'Fun Run' at every pit stop (Ghaziabad, Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Silvassa and Mumbai) for beginners to inspire them to take up running as a regular activity in their life.
A 21 kilometre run will also be organised at Silvassa, which will fall in the 570 km stretch that celebrity runner Milind Soman would run from Ahmedabad to Mumbai. In line with the entire theme of the ultra-marathon, proceeds from the 'Fun Runs' will go to the Go Sports Foundation to fund the dreams and efforts of future Olympians of the country.
"Runs like The 'Great India Run' are a test of an individual's endurance levels and a distance of 1480 kilometres in 21 days will be a different level of challenge for all of us. However events like these are a necessity to create aspirations and spread the message of fitness across the country and I am confident that we would spread the message effectively," India’s best known ultra-marathoner Arun Bhardwaj said prior to the event.
"For a runner apart from running what also matters the most is exploring new landscapes and when you are presented with an opportunity to run in a magical country like India, its hard to let go off such an experience. I am glad that I am a part of the inaugural edition of The Great India Run and I am looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends in this journey," former Soviet Union national record holder Yuri Esperson, who will also take part in the run, said.
The 15 runners who are scheduled to participate in the event are Arun Bhardwaj, Siddharth Choudhary, David Bredo, Yuri Esperson, Meenal Kotak, Ranjana Deopa, Sreekanth Reddi, Melanie Delainey, Dinesh Heda, Joginder Chandna, Pia Hansson, Sunil Sharma, Shweta Sharma, Kaushal Chauhan and Dhanaee Kumar.
(With IANS inputs)