Sunday, July 14, 2024

A fit, athletic and active Hyderabad in the making

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Aiming to make the city of Nizams fit, we have the Hyderabad Runners Society that has been organising runs and marathons throughout the year. Today, for our weekly segment of Hyderabond, we connect with Arunkumar Kaliappan, secretary of Hyderabad Runners Society, speaking to us about his association with the city and making Hyderabad a more fitter city.

Tejal Sinha

Over the time, especially after the pandemic, people have begun focusing on living a fit and healthier lifestyle. Hyderabad as a city is known for its history, culture and the world-famous Biryani and pearls. Today, with a number of people taking to fitness activities for an active lifestyle, the sporting infrastructure around the city and with a growing crop of athletes across multiple sports, the city is fast emerging as one of the leading cities in India in terms of sporting culture.

With a similar focus to make Hyderabadi lead a healthy life is Hyderabad Runners Society that organises the city’s biggest running and marathon events.

Today, our guest Arunkumar Kaliappan, secretary of Hyderabad Runners Society, not only discussed his association with the city of pearls, but also the main cause behind Hyderabad Runners Society.

Hyderabad Runners society is a fifteen year old non profit organisation, that is operating here in Hyderabad for about 15 years now. “The society was founded by a few enthusiastic runners, who were into running as a form of fitness activity, and also wanted to promote the same among the other citizens of Hyderabad. Back then, there were not many such organised runs. Even as a group if you wanted to, there was no such ecosystem there. They had experienced this even in the foreign countries and other Indian cities like Bangalore, and Chennai. That bought the inception of Hyderabad Runners society. The club of the Hyderabad Runners Society soon began organising training runs, people would assemble at a common point in the morning and participated in the runs together and then slowly organised marathons,” he informed to us adding, “The Hyderabad Marathon was started in 2010 and has completed over 10 editions of the marathon. We started with basic runners in our neighbourhoods and we’ve also ot to organising the marathons. Not many are aware about it but the marathons are one of the biggest events of the city, related to the fitness where over 25,000 from India and abroad have been participating.”

The Hyderabad Marathon is the flagship event of Hyderabad Runners Society and is a signature event in the city that is usually held on the last Sunday of August every year, with an aim to spread awareness about running, active lifestyle and to bring the city together for one cause.

The Hyderabad Marathon. It is now counted amongst India’s most popular marathons; it has had more than 25,000 participants.

Coming back, Arunkumar was born and bought up in Tamil Nadu. However, in late 2004 due to his work he moved here to Hyderabad. And, now there’s no other city he prefers to settle in.

“I work with an IT company here and I moved for my job. After that I have predominantly been based out of Hyderabad, even though for a couple of years I was out of the country for some assignment, but after that I have been associated with Hyderabad to date. Though I had chances of going back to my home state or any other place like Bangalore, I preferred Hyderabad because in terms of weather, people I like the place.”

Hyderabad has emerged as one of the leading cities in India, in terms of sports and fitness. Sharing his thoughts on the same, he says, “There are running groups in other states as well but they do it in a different way. They have some commercial interest, one has to pay and subscribe to join the group to even get trained and you’ll have to pay somebody who’s like a coach, so those kind of models they follow. Hyderabad Runners have a few similarities in other areas also like Chennai runners they have a group. Even some tier 2 cities in Hyderabad also have such groups. But here we are purely voluntary based organisation and everyone of us have our own jobs and business. For us this is a hobby or fitness activity, which we want to do as a group and that is why we thought of making it as an institution and again its not for profit. We don’t need anything to gain monetarily through the activity and just focus on spreading awareness forming a ecosystem around us.”

Asked, what was one thing that he likes about people participating here in Hyderabad, he says, “The city has been quite receptive with its idea of supporting runners. We have a ‘Kouch to 5k’ program, where a newbie runner who is interested to get into running can sign up for a program which the society conducts and get trained as a runner, the basic rights, what all to follow and what not. So we have seen enormous interest from people of all walks of life right from young students to senior citizens, housewives and working people. All such people of different social strata and different age demography they all have signed up. The kind of enthusiasm in getting adopted to active lifestyle is something which we find good in Hyderabad, which also helps us to keep going.”

The society aims at transforming the lives of people, and making them physically and mentally fit.

These days, several corporates and retail brands have come forward and getting involved such kind of activities, associating in the CSR activities. In terms of this, Arunkumar goes on to says that the city has seen a lot more growth comparing to the other cities. However, when it comes to the sporting infrastructure, the city has a far way to go.

“Roads are not good enough for runners except in the early morning and can be a little more safe, pedestrianization should be more, as runners we also get involved in other kind of activities like cycling. cycling is still not safe with the kind of the road traffic that we have and the kind of discipline we have in terms of traffic management, mainly from citizens and also from the government infrastructure wise definitely there is a scope of improvement. Looking at the other side, we do see some initiatives like the parks are well maintained, that is something which is a boon for us places like KBR park, botanical garden they provide a good space for us to do our activity and even for a lot of morning walkers and joggers but we need more such places, particularly in places where new development is happening.”

Many of such marathons take place in the western part of the city because, “Usually the western part is more active like Gachibowli, Kondapur, Nallagandla, Thellapur, because many people have moved away from the core of the city. These places offer the kind of places where you can safely run. But having said that if people have interest, they can do it in all the other areas and Hyderabad Runners has its presence in all over twin cities, right from Secunderabad. Secunderabad is also another cluster where we have active runners.”

The Hyderabad Runners Society will be organising its 14th edition of club run at the University of Hyderabad’s campus on February 19, and the annual biggest marathon in August.

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