#TataMumbaiMarathon2020 – Blind marathoner Amarjeet Chawla looks forward to 125th run
This Sunday is Mumbai’s first big event of 2020. That’s the Tata Mumbai Marathon which attracts a large number of disabled participants every year. 2019 saw 1,300 disabled people running at the event. This year too, a large turnout is expected. Making his presence felt is the much-loved Sporty Sikh Amarjeet Singh Chawla, who will be running his 125th half marathon.
The Mumbai Marathon is a must run event for blind marathoner Amarjeet Singh Chawla. This 64-year-old has done 124 half marathons, five ultra-marathons and one intercity super marathon. The Mumbai event is extra special, says the Sporty Sikh, as his admirers call him.
Diagnosed with macular degeneration at 13
“I am a permanent customer at the Mumbai Marathon”, says Chawla with a laugh in his voice. “This is where I started running in 2004 and I have been a regular since then. I make sure that all my landmark runs, like the 101st run, and now the 125th are here in Mumbai. This is my city and my home and that makes it extra special. I will make sure that my 151st run in 2021 will be the Mumbai Marathon too”.
Chawla was diagnosed with macular degeneration at the age of 13. This is one of the leading causes of vision loss. By age 40, he was completely blind. He started becoming active in sports at the age of 48. Chawla is an accomplished swimmer as well and is the only blind person to scale the 19,830-ft Dolma Pass in Tibet.
His co-runner at the Mumbai Marathon is Bindu Magesh. A schoolteacher, Bindu has been running marathons since 2015. She met Chawla at a Pinkathon event last year. Inspired by his energy, she asked if she could run with him. Bindu will be Chawla’s 107th running escort.
Running marathons is my passion and I like to support people who need help during such runs. Running together is like a give and take relationship. He will get my help and I will get his help in improving my pace. I run slower than he does but he agreed to match my pace. He is an accomplished runner and I am honoured to have the opportunity to run with him this Sunday. – Bindu Magesh, Amarjeet Chawla’s running escort
Wants to inspire more disabled people to run
Chawla says that a large part of the attraction in running the Mumbai Marathon is the media coverage. “I love the media attention the Mumbai Marathon gets every year. In other places the coverage is not that extensive, and I like that a lot”. The coverage, he hopes, will encourage more disabled people to take part in such events. “I am told that 18 blind people are running the 2020 Mumbai Marathon and that is the greatest feeling for me. The more they run, the more addicted they will get. I want everyone to feel inspired to take up physical activity”.