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Morning Tea with The Ironman | Milind Soman

There’s already a huge roar in the city of Nawabs – Hyderabad about The Pinkathon.

Milind SomanEvery time I came across pictures of women participating in the pre-event preparations with Milind Soman. I would wish that I could also be a part of all this, if I could also get a chance to meet Milind, run with him (though I am not a sports person at all) and be able to share the same frame with him.

Soon after it felt as if things have started falling in place and I could earn a chance to meet Milind and talk to him about the work I do.

After the successful awareness talk on green periods at Bengaluru Pinkathon, Milind wanted to have a similar talk conducted at Hyderabad too, hence I got roped in. Being a Menstrual Activist, I conduct awareness workshops among young girls and women about adopting eco-friendly menstrual practices, harmful effects of chemicals in disposables on our health and environment and introduction to sustainable menstrual products.

So the day finally arrived! Ruchika, my colleague and I reached the venue. I was confident that I will behave normal and will not let any nervousness creep in to me. But everything went down the drain the moment I saw him face to face. Still I was holding my calm and started talking and to my surprise Milind was talking to us like any other social contact. He was very welcoming yet courteous, and soon I was at ease.

After we had our discussion about the preparations, we started talking about how Pinkathon came in to existence. With it unfolded many aspects of his personality that many of us are unaware of. While I knew he is a great runner, I was pleasantly surprised to know that he is a great swimmer too and held Indian National Swimming Championship title for four years. He has been a Limca record holder for running 1,500 km in 30 days’ time for Greenathon. In 2015, Milind completed the Ironman challenge in 15 hours and 19 minutes, in his first try. The triathlon includes a 3.8-km swim, a 180.2-km cycle ride and 42.2-km run raced in that order without a break which the participants are required to complete within 16 hours to win the title of ‘Ironman’.

I was already amused at hearing such great achievements but it felt as if it was just the starting. Gradually, the slices began to unfold. Then we started talking about Pinkathon – India’s biggest ‘women only’ marathon. Now I was curious to know about how it all started. Milind happily shared how his efforts and his supporters’ relentless dedication has helped Pinkathon grow as a brand.

Pinkathon was launched by United Sisters Foundation and was created to spread awareness about women’s issues, focusing on women’s health and getting women to take care of themselves, to enable them towards adopting a fitter lifestyle for themselves and their families. The objective was to encourage women to take out some time during the day for themselves to walk or run as it’s more convenient and is a community exercise. Pinkathon was soon a medium to spread the message among women.

Milind SomanThe first ever women’s running revolution – Pinkathon was held in Mumbai in December 2012 where 2,000 women participated. In 2013, it was organized in Bengaluru, Delhi, Pune and Mumbai with an average participant count of around 10,000. In 2014, the revolution marked another milestone. It was conducted in Chennai and Ahmedabad, and Ahmedabad registered a record of 14,000 participants. And in 2015, Pinkathon was introduced to the women of Hyderabad and Guwahati. Last year alone, around 65,000 women have participated in this movement and have displayed an example in society that its imperative women take charge of their health and inspire fitter families.

Pinkathon continues to evolve and take on various initiatives to promote healthy and fit lifestyle among women. Like they encourage women to get the free medical check-ups, and if women over 45 years of age participate, they are entitled for a free mammogram. Another initiative is introduction of Green Water Station to promote clean and eco-friendly practices. At this station participants are given choice to drink water from disposable bottles as against reusable cups. The response has been heart-warming.

Pinkathon also encourages girls with hearing and visual impaired disability to participate in marathons
and they dedicate some women to run with these girls. This year Pinkathon also introduced women to Green Periods and encouraged women to adopt eco-friendly and sustainable menstrual products like Cups and Cloth pads. This initiative had a great response in Bengaluru and there will be a similar awareness station at Hyderabad too.

Pinkathon in collaboration with Bajaj Electronics plants 500-1000 trees to commemorate every Pinkathon. SBI took the title sponsorship in 2014 and now Pinkathon has Pan-India partners like LIC, OYO rooms (hospitality partner), Reebok , Volini, LIC, Women’s Horlicks.

Many Bollywood actresses like Kareena Kapoor, Gul Panag, Bipasha Basu, Lisa Haydon have also been goodwill ambassadors and supporters of Pinkathon.

United Sisters Foundation actively campaigns for and provides platform for NGOs, Corporates and Individuals to raise funds.

As I enjoyed the Jaggery Tea, (yes that’s what Milind recommends as against the routine sugar laden tea), I was feeling a wave of mixed emotions within me. This candid conversation has invoked a sense of pride in us that we are going to be associated with such a great community that has given back to society in many ways. Besides, I feel inspired too to participate in the run and take charge of my fitness. As we leave, I was full of enthusiasm, positive energy and was looking forward to a great association.

This article is accredited to Anju Arora.

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