New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Salwan cross-country race may not have gone to town with exotic promos like other high-profile walks or marathons, backed by big businesses and celebrities. But it was an amazing feat to gather over 45,000 school children to run, including the visually impaired and intellectually challenged.
The annual race for the 18th year Sunday was, like in the past, an improvement over the previous editions and it was an organisational marvel to get children from 800 schools from across the country to participate.
The number of runners seems to grow with the race and some of them continue to maintain a lean with it. Samrat Dewan ran in all age groups over the years and today she came from Shivpuri to be part of the organisation. Many others worked unsung like her. That's the kind of commitment and affinity they have developed for the event.
It is not just fun and frolic, the competition in the races was fierce and every serious runner was rewarded. Many children went home happy carrying the message that there is no better thing than running to be fit in life.
The top three winners in all categories got prizes that included laptops and phone tablets while gifts were also given to the top 25 racers.
"That's exactly what I want and I am happy I am able to motivate the children in my own little way," said Inder Dutt Salwan, the man behind the massive movement and director of the Salwan Group of Schools.
Just seeing the race logistics was breathtaking. For each of the over thousand visually impaired and 150 intellectually challenged students, there was a volunteer as escort, running alongside the entire stretch of the 4.5 km race.
The races were held in other categories too -- under-14 girls and boys (4.5 km), under-16 girls and boys (6 km) and under-18 girls and boys (8 km).
There were 400 Delhi Police personnel stationed in every corner of the enormous course at the Army Equestrian Centre, Brar Square, in the Delhi Cantonment. In addition, there were traffic police to help out competitors and visitors.
Then there were NCC cadets, water boys and close to 3,000 marshals overseeing the race.
There were doctors and para-medical staff guided by a committed volunteer force. It was no mean a task and the organisers seem to have developed a template over the years for all other conductors of other major races.
It was all done professionally by people with love for the sport. From the start of the races to prize distribution, everything was well handled.
The ambience of the Army Equestrian Centre itself lends the race a touch of class and to be orderly. The army men join in the act selflessly.
It was not all serious business of running. To cheer up the runners, there were Bhangra troupes at the flagging off as well as at the finish line. There was a carnival atmosphere and for many who accompanied the school children it was picnic of sorts.
In the end, those who won were thrilled and all for the also-rans it was an enjoyable Sunday outing.