Interview: The woman who ran across the country and wrote a book
Three years ago, Sumedha Mahajan won a mention in the Limca Book of World Records for being the first woman to run a distance of 1,500 km from Delhi to Mumbai in 30 days. Earlier this year, the book she wrote based on her experience, Miles To Run Before I Sleep, was launched by Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao.
Mahajan (32) was born in Amritsar with respiratory problems. She was diagnosed of asthma and took up running as a way of dealing with her condition. Gradually, it evolved into a way of life. Today, she runs Karta Business Consulting and makes time for training despite her professional and personal obligations.
When Mahajan set out to run from Delhi to Mumbai in 2012, she did it to get out of the rut and follow her dreams. What started as a physical challenge gradually turned into a mental one, as she ran hard to prove the people who discouraged her wrong.
She recalls, with a laugh, how her parents advised her to stop running and instead start a family.
Not only did she cross the finish line, she also penned a memoir of the 30 gruelling days of endurance running. She is also a motivational speaker now.
Excerpts from an interview:
On being a runner and an author
The book tells the story of how I made it as an endurance runner. A day before the run, my father gave me a diary and said, “I want to see the world through your eyes.” When I crossed the finish line, I started penning my experience in the diary and later realised that it’s a story that every Indian woman must hear. I quit my job because it was no longer a pleasure. Eight months later, I had finished the book. What I am doing today is much tougher and it is not financially rewarding. It is a constant struggle, but I enjoy every minute of being a writer.
The process of writing
Writing was probably ingrained in me. In school and college, I took part in debates and extempores and won contests at the inter-university level. If you believe in yourself and your story, there is nothing that can stop you. My book is the voice of a working class, married woman who is diagnosed of asthma and lumbar spondylosis (a progressive degeneration of the lumbar vertebrae) but despite the hindrances, manages to run 1,500 km along with five other men.
I have shared my experience of running through the highways of India and I explain how it changed my life, from illness to health, from diffidence to strength.
Follow your dreams. Know that you are not alone. Be courageous, determined and never let hope die. Be immune to criticism and negativity and never let it bother you.