In a famous bollywood movie the Main lead mouths a dialogue that has been legendary ” Agar log tumhare khilaaf bole toh samjho tum tarakki kar rahe ho” which means if some people express their views against you,then you are definitely doing something good for yourself, as every new revolution is very different from the traditional ideology being followed and that applies for the #100 days of running challenge and here is what a barefoot runner Irina Hazarika Barua has to say on the beauty of the #100 days of running challenge in response to what has been coined by another Barefoot running legend in India.

Irina as some of you might know is a Barefoot running crusader who has inspired a lot of runners in their quest to improve their running and embrace barefoot running and is a Pinkathon participant . So here she is giving her take on how # 100 days of running is the way to go

Open letter to Mr Thomas Bobby Philip

Dear Sir,

After much thought I have decided to respond to your famous post, which has elicited so much reaction from the running community, only because I felt that I would be a coward if I did not stand up for something which I believed in.

You Sir, are one of the most respected and revered members of the running fraternity and are a role model for many. I have heard so much about you, read about you and gone through your videos. And so, it was with interest that I sat down to read your post to which my friend had tagged me.

But my interest turned to shock and disappointment once I started going through it, not only because of the contents, but also because of the anger and animosity that your message emanated. Imagine my disbelief when I saw a senior member of the running society using harsh and hurtful words to condemn an event without any figures to back the “facts” and without giving a thought to the sentiment or intelligence of either the organizer(s) or the 13000 runners who have registered for it. It was unexpected!

I am not an expert on running, but since I have been a regular participant in the event, I know what the event is all about.

The event rules runs thus:

“Run daily for a 100 days. You can mix walking with running as you feel comfortable. .. Missing any days of run or walk does not disqualify you from the event…You need to run (or run/walk) a minimum of 2 km. There is no upper limit, but participants are advised to use discretion and run a distance which they are comfortable with. This is not a mileage competition, this is a platform to get people to develop running as a habit and as a lifestyle through the medium of this challenge.”

This explains the complete event in a nutshell. Period. (The controversy arising out of runners who attempt more than what the event specifies has already been dealt with by a famous ultra runner in the said post).

Though I have participated in two editions covering more than 2 km per day – injury free, it was only after reading your post have I learnt that someone running (most of the time walking) 2 km per day HAS to have a “lot of physical fitness and cross training required to be a strong and injury free runner”. I read through the comments section and saw others commenting on the injuries that runners must have undergone during the event but saw no figures to support their claims.

You also brought up the topic of how the event does not track the participants’ cross training regimes and physical fitness levels and that it is “left to individual runners to think on what’s good for them”. Inspite of the fact that no event takes responsibility for the physical fitness or other aspects of a participant, the HDOR team takes care of even that aspect!

Coach Ian Dexter Ladbrooke creates pre-HDOR plans and initiates discussions on hydration, diet and exercises to help interested participants get into the event gradually. He focuses on stretching and shares videos to try to educate the community even before the event takes off. He, on a regular basis, keeps updating runners on different aspects to be taken care of during these 100 days. But you failed to mention any of these!

It was also disheartening to see your friends and fans nodding in agreement without knowing anything about the event not to mention the uncalled for nasty, sarcastic and snide remarks posted by some of them.

Hence, I am left wondering if the main grouse seems to be only with the event and not with anything else. The whole episode looked more like everyone was trying to bring the downfall of the event rather than worrying about the safety of the runners who are consenting participants and looking forward to starting a running journey.

The HDOR team can certainly boast of having initiated a process which encourages thousands of people into taking up running, which happens to be one of the best ways to keep healthy. I assure you that there are many and many out there who swear by HDOR and are indebted to it for their fitness.

What the HDOR team had started five years back has now become a movement. And inspite of you taking up the issue of the so-called “demerits” of running 2×100 days for quite a few years, the movement seems to have grown – from 800+ participants in 2015 to an astounding figure of 13000+ in 2019.

I guess you and your friends have not given a thought to how much of hard work must have gone into building up such a large community? You are experienced and learned and surely know that while construction takes a long time, destruction is instantaneous – just like your post. Did you, even for a moment, not think of the repercussions of your words on the hard work put up by everyone in the team?

Wouldn’t it have been more befitting if you, a senior leader of the running fraternity, would have chosen to encourage the event instead of trying to get it boycotted? Wouldn’t it have been a wonderful gesture if you, a veteran in the field of running, had come forward to congratulate the team on a job excellently done in motivating thousands of people from India as well as around the world to participate in a running event instead of sitting on a high pedestal and passing judgement? “100 days of running is NO GOOD”. That sounded final and ominous!

We know social media can be a killer. So, it lies in the hands of the respected and admired members of society to take care of what they put out for their fans in order to avoid any backlash which their posts might generate. They are role models for many and it is only expected that others, especially youngsters, would emulate them. Their words have the power to make or break and hence, using kindness works wonders for everyone . The world surely needs more of that!

But sadly, you have used this very media to defame an event in the harshest of terms leaving many, connected to it, hurt and disappointed with your thoughtless remarks. Your cruel post was a big let-down.

But it’s never too late to mend fences. The HDOR members would be all the better-off with your esteemed presence, constructive suggestions and valuable advice in the HDOR running community. In case you decide otherwise, I hope you leave the event alone, and forever hold your peace.

I apologize beforehand for word(s), if any, that might have caused distress.

Yours truly

A heavily disappointed fan

The following has been reproduced with permission and collaboration with the “The Barefoot Legend” Irina Hazarika barua and the runner’s Carnival # 100 days of running challenge

I am the Spotlight looking for people trying to make a difference to themselves and weaving a beautiful, encouraging story in the Process. If you are the one who can trade fictions for real life heroes, this is the place to be....when I am not breaking keyboards to write these stories, you might find me running slow long distance runs or slogging my ass to get my bills Paid.Now it's showtime 😁