Inspiring Journey of Pinkathon Ambassadors
All progress takes place outside of our comfort zones. A champion is someone who gets up even when they cannot. The journey of Pinkathon Ambassadors Tabita Menon, Harshalatha Ravada, Sheela Amritraj, and Khushboo Chauhan from being non-runners to being good and consistent runners today is an incredible one. Borrowing the thoughts of Pinkathon Ambassador, Tabita Menon—what hurts you today, makes you stronger for tomorrow.
Through this piece, I want to unwrap the growth of these four women through the 6 years of Pinkathon in Vizag.
Pinkathon has given Tabita a platform through which she can extensively focus on being fit, and on spreading awareness and inspiring women. In 2015, she was one of the first few Pinkathon Ambassadors from Vizag. Tabita wasn’t particularly fit before she set foot in the fitness world. The responsibility of setting the right example for other women fell on her shoulders when she became a Pinkathon Ambassador. She pledged to remain consistent even with odd working shifts. Even after working through the day, she would always be up for a run or walk. In 2018, Tabita had to undergo surgery and had long hospitalization. This was a tough phase in her life. It took her almost 6 months to stand strong. She ran for 3 km the same day the doctor allowed her to exercise again. For Tabita, running is not just an exercise, nor is it an achievement; it is about discipline. It’s about the slow and painful process of being the best you can be. She truly believes that ‘one run can change your day; many runs can change your life.’ There are some days when even Pinkathon Ambassadors aren’t in their best moods. On such days, Tabita takes motivation from her fitness freak friends who push her to workout. Pinkathon Ambassadors Sharmila, Sonia, and Debjani have always inspired her by their determination and attitude towards fitness. A memory that she’ll never forget? Running 10 km barefoot on her 44th birthday will always remain etched in her memory forever. Traveling around the city with fellow Pinkathon Ambassadors and participating in Pinkathon events with phenomenal women are her most memorable memories. What has always kept her going? The most incredible thing that she sees through these events is the support women show for other women, helping each other to strive always for the best.
Sharing a story similar to Tabita, Pinkathon Ambassador Harshalatha too wasn’t much into physical activities after her school days. After her first 5k run in the first edition of Vizag Pinkathon in November 2015, by seeing women of her age participating, she gained confidence. Milind Soman’s speech that day emphasizing “FIT WOMEN FOR FIT FAMILIES” encouraged her to take up running seriously, though the consistency set in only after being associated with the Pinkathon Girls Training-Vizag team in April 2016. Harshalatha smiles when she tells me how since March 2019, she has never missed a day. Whether it is raining, she’s sick, or she’s traveling, she always finds a way to workout. It gives her some ‘me-time’ and a sense of achievement that makes her happy. What pleases her the most is knowing that someone is inspired by her consistency and takes up fitness. But for her, her main inspiration is Milind Soman himself, who through his course of life has changed the lives of thousands of women, inspiring them to stay fit and healthy. When asked what made her stay so consistent, she mentions the challenge initiated by Pinkathon called ‘Pinkathon goes to the Moon’ in March 2019. The challenge was to cover the distance equivalent from Earth to Moon, i.e. 3,84,400 km. With every km of run/walk, Rs. 10 would be given to the underprivileged. Every run and every challenge she’s completed was memorable. The favourite of them all was the one in which she participated along with my husband and her two twin boys. Her family not only supports her but also participates along with her. What greater pleasure than the entire family becoming fit together?
The journey of Pinkathon Ambassador Sheela from being a novice in fitness to a long-distance runner is awe-inspiring. The realization that she couldn't walk a 3km distance without struggling in Vizag going pink 3 years back, challenged her to push herself to get better thereafter. Today, she runs 10km with such much ease. She has been proactive in spreading the word about women's fitness and Pinkathon and has taken part in several running events. When life posed different health challenges, she emerged out of them stronger and continued her long distance running.
Pinkathon Ambassador Khushboo started running after joining Pinkathon in 2018. Six months before the Navy marathon, she and I both trained together, which she completed in 2 hours 30 minutes. That for her was the happiest day of her life. Now, she runs regularly and is constantly taking up Pinkathon Challenges and participating in Pinkathon Saturday training. Among the many challenges, Khushboo has taken up, ‘100 days of Pinkathon’, ‘Pinkathon goes to the moon’, ‘Republic Day to Independence Day Run’. She has received many felicitations and accolades for her achievements in running. This along with the support from her family members and her partner, and the inspiration she draws from other Pinkathon Ambassadors, keeps her going. Every workout, be it yoga, running, or walking sessions, has all been memorable for her. Dancing, Zumba, playing Badminton, Table Tennis, Throwball, Cricket, Chess & Carrom are some of her favorite activities, for which she even won many prizes and trophies. But completing her first Half Marathon in 2019 and receiving the finisher medal will always remain her best running memory, ever.
A big thank you to Harshalatha, Tabita, Sheela, and Khushboo for sharing their insights and story with us.