In the gruelling 30°C-degree midday heat of Goa in February, marathon runners limber up for the endurance test to come.
“To achieve what we did, it involved disciplining ourselves mentally and physically,” says Sanjay Pandit, Senior Manager Human Resources at Teva India. “At the start of the run, we were bursting with excitement and high on adrenaline. As the run proceeded, each one of us fell into our own zones. The challenge suddenly got real. The emotions running within us were overwhelming.”
Pandit says the fitness aspect was one that appealed to all the runners at Teva India, with many hoping to improve their health through training for the event, by running it and continuing with the sport afterwards. “Most employees started running several weeks ahead of the date,” he says. “They would train on weekends on their own and then share experiences back at work.”
Encouragement came from families, but also from Teva India colleagues who had competed the previous year. Veteran Teva Marathoners from 2016 shared some practical and valuable training tips. It’s easy to get exhausted in the energy-sapping heat where Goa temperatures soar up to 32°C, and running 21km is incredibly tough.
Despite the challenges, the 20 Teva employees and their families were 'charged up' and ready for the event. Everyone who registered ran and completed their respective races.
While taking part in such a high profile event was one reason so many at Teva India signed up, there were many other factors behind their decision, most notably the fact that the event raises vital funds for the El Shaddai Charitable Trust. The not-for-profit charity in Goa provides support to thousands of orphans, street children and children from economically underprivileged conditions, providing them with food, clothing, shelter and education.
“The contributions of the events are used to build safe homes for people from marginalized communities and to bring happiness and hope to the underprivileged children of society, “says Pandit, whose wife and daughter also participated in the event.
While runners may have been focused on completing the course during the race, there was an enormous sense of bonding during training and in euphoric celebrations afterwards, says Pandit. “Running a marathon is good for your health, but it also creates a sense of team and camaraderie. Everyone was running for the cause, not to compete. Being part of an event like that really enthuses people.”
The fact that many family members were included in the Teva team provided further encouragement and underlined Teva's ethos, believes Pandit. “About 15 children participated, including my daughter, so it was great to have them involved too. After we completed the marathon we were euphoric, although very drained. Everyone was proud to have run for such a worthwhile cause and to have contributed their bit to a huge task.”
The health benefits of such a worthy cause means others are considering taking part in the Goa Marathon in the future, says Pandit. “We would definitely participate again in the Goa Marathon and other events. It was good for fitness and for the cause, but also for team-bonding and bonding of our families also.”
This new-found love of 'road running', as many in India call it, perhaps illustrates why twice as many employees at Teva’s two sites in Goa took part in the state's biggest running event in 2017 than in 2016, plus were joined by about 40 family members.
“The Goa Marathon is a prominent event in the state's capital city and attracts a lot of interest every year. We don't have any other big marathon events here, so people are excited to be a part of it,” explains Pandit, who was one of 102 employees and their family members participating in the event.
When Teva India management supported the event in 2016, there was an overwhelming response from employees and their families to be involved. “It was a good gesture from Teva management and we are thankful for their support of such a good cause,” says Pandit.
The Goa Marathon encompasses four running events in the Goan capital of Panjim – the Half Marathon which is 21kms, The 10km Run, The 5km Dream Run for those aged 12 and above and the School Run for under 16s, which has three lengths – 2km, 3km and 4km.
While the Goa Marathon is a fundraiser for the El Shaddai Charitable Trust, the event is mainly organised by the charity and its associates – the Goa Athletic Association, Council of the City of Panjim and the Goa Tourism Development Corporation - to create awareness of health in the state and encourage more people to take up running.
According to Pandit: “The charity does marvellous work and we are kept informed about the ways they help children and the charitable work they are doing now.”