On the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day of India, Soldierathon, a special marathon founded by Major (Dr.) Surendra Poonia, VSM (Retd), is hosting an individual initiative-powered 73-minute long run to pay a tribute to the soldier community who have played a crucial role in protecting the Republic of India.
Similar to the 2019 edition, this version of the run is also leveraging the internet and social media to transcend physical boundaries, making the local space around each individual a potential Soldierathon venue.
What Is Soldierathon?
The Soldierathon is a special edition marathon. It was first established to commemorate the wounded and martyred Indian soldiers who put their lives on the line for the security of the nation. Every edition of the marathon is aimed at not just honouring India’s bravehearts, but also at creating an environment where the citizens, especially the youth of India, are “made aware of the great sacrifices” made by the defense personnel of the nation. The objective is to instill in the masses a renewed sense of pride for soldiers who serve tirelessly every day to maintain the integrity, unity, sovereignty, and safety of India.
The idea for Soldierathon was conceived by Major Dr. Surendra Poonia, with the guidance of the former President of India, the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He had felt a strong need to generate awareness towards the sacrifices of the country’s warriors, while simultaneously also helping out war-wounded soldiers and the families, especially the children, of those who had been martyred. To that end, one part of the proceeds collected from the run were directed towards providing scholarships for martyr’s children, while the other part was donated to wounded soldiers at Artificial Limb Centre & Paraplegic Rehab Centre at Pune. While Dr. Kalam is no more in this world to watch this dream gradually progress towards reality, Maj. Dr. Poonia, himself an accomplished sportsman with multiple medals in power-lifting and athletic events, has taken it upon himself to ensure that this vision is actualised as soon as possible.
The Fit India Soldierathon began in 2018 with a road running event that took place in the national capital of Delhi. The run served as a platform to bring those passionate runners who cared about the cause of the soldiers closer to philanthropic communities to gain tangible results in terms of welfare for the nation’s soldiers and their families.
The second edition, held in 2019, was a collaboration between Fit Bharat and flagship sports nutrition brand Fast&UP. This edition went online, featuring a 30-day step challenge, connected with the tag #StepChallenge on Twitter. To be a part of this simple initiative, people just had to walk or run per their own convenience at their own pace, keep track of the number of steps taken using whatever gadget they had available. The essence of the challenge was to post a picture of the number of steps taken with the #StepChallenege hashtag on Twitter.
The Soldierathon went on a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Now, it is returning with renewed vigour for the country’s 73rd Republic day.
Republic Day Soldierathon
This edition of the Fit Bharat Soldierathon Run is commemorating the contribution of the country’s defense personnel on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day of India. In a small video uploaded in a tweet, Maj. Dr. Poonia explained what this run was all about. The idea, like the previous editions, was simple: participants have to run in their own city or area for 73 minutes, at whatever pace is comfortable to them. Once the run is done, the participants can post the screenshot of the distance they covered on Twitter, tagging Fit Bharat and Soldierathon’s accounts with the picture. They can also send the pictures on WhatsApp in case a Twitter account is not accessible to them.
Maj. Dr. Poonia is hopeful that with this initiative, people will not only remember the sacrifice of the soldiers on this eventful Day, but also focus on their health in the process.