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Marathoner Amarjeet Chawla to do a Mumbai-Pune run to spread awareness about avoidable blindness

May 29, 2019

Amarjeet Singh Chawla, aka Sporty Sikh, is calling this his toughest run ever. Come 31 May, Chawla, an avid marathoner, will set off from Mumbai to Pune. This run is for a cause. Read more to find out.

The Sporty Sikh is gearing up for his toughest run so far. Sixty-three-year old old Amarjeet Singh Chawla, the visually impaired marathoner, will set off for Pune from Mumbai on 31 May, a distance of about 150 kms. Chawla is running for a cause - to spread awareness about avoidable blindness.

Chawla is running for an awareness marathon called No More Avoidable Blindness. This is an initiative of the National institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) Vision Marathon. A veteran, Chawla has taken part in 174 races. This cause is one that is close to his heart.

"Avoidable blindness can occur as a result of diabetes or many other small illnesses but people are not very aware, says Chawla, who started losing sight in his teens due to macular degeneration and gradually went totally blind. He plunged into depression for a long period until he discovered running.

A special cause

Chawla has been an ambassador for the cause for the last four years. This year, the organisers decided to increase the duration of the run.

We decided to modify it and increase the distance this time. Mumbai to Pune is quite a distance and through the route, many more people will see us. They will in turn talk to their family members and friends and the word will spread even more. - Amarjeet Singh Chawla, Visually impaired marathoner

The run will start on 31 May at the Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai. The first halt is at Panvel, from where Chawla will cross Khandala Ghat on 1 June. He will halt the second night at Lonavala and then run to the Rabindranath Tagore School in Pune on 2 June.

More than the distance it is the intense heat conditions Chawla is worried about. "The summer is rather intense and I am worried about the heat but I am determined to spread awareness about this cause. He plans to take frequent breaks in between. "Running non-stop will be difficult so it will be good to take some breaks. There are many others running with me which is good because I would rate this as among the most challenging of all the runs I have done so far.

Nikhil Shah from the Run Buddies Club, which is organising the awareness marathon, says Chawla makes for an inspiring ambassador.

"Amarjeet is so enthusiastic and full of energy and that is great for the cause. He motivates people to run and also spread awareness, says Shah.

Shah hopes that having Chawla out there running for the cause will make people aware about the need for timely checks. "My mother-in-law had glaucoma and we realised only after she lost her sight. Most people do not understand that 80% of blindness can be prevented with timely treatment.

Experts say that conditions like glaucoma, eye-related macular degeneration and amblyopia (lazy eye) can cause blindness. Lazy eye can be cured with spectacles and exercise while glaucoma can be detected with regular eye check-ups.

As Shah points out, it can happen to any one of us, so "making people talk about the issue is important. All of us need to be aware of it. Because it is not an issue that has the backing of big pharma, it is not getting attention.

Having an inspiring figure like the Sporty Sikh out there will surely help change the scenario.

If you want to be a part of this important cause, be at Goregaon Sports Club on 31 May at 6.30 AM

ALSO READ:'Will keep running,' says blind marathoner Sporty Sikh ahead of 101st run

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