Resilience defying limits: 75-Year-old cancer survivor steals the show at Darjeeling Hill Marathon

75-Year-old cancer survivor steals the show at Darjeeling Hill Marathon
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The Darjeeling Hill Marathon on Sunday witnessed a truly inspiring victory lap, not from the first across the finish line, but from a 75-year-old cancer survivor, Pratap Singh Rai. Crossing the line hand-in-hand with his eight-year-old relative Srshty Swami, Rai’s story of resilience and determination stole the hearts of everyone present.

While professional runners like Henry Kiprono Togom from Kenya blazed through the 21km course in just over an hour, Rai and Swami took a more leisurely four hours to complete the race. But for them, it wasn’t about the time on the clock; it was about celebrating life, defying limitations, and inspiring others.

Pratap Singh Rai, a 75-year-old cancer survivor and founder of the Bhadra Sheela Memorial Institution (BSMI) in Darjeeling, showcased his indomitable spirit by completing the 21km run.

Rai’s journey has been far from easy. Diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010, he underwent chemotherapy and faced the daunting challenge of battling the disease. However, Rai’s never-say-die spirit wouldn’t allow him to give up. He found solace and strength in running, a passion he had nurtured since 1968.

“I run to show the younger generation that one needs to remain fit. Running is the easiest and the cheapest way to do so,” expressed Rai, emphasizing the importance of physical fitness.

He wasn’t just preaching; he was leading by example. Rai’s dedication to fitness is truly remarkable, especially considering his age and past health struggles. His presence in the marathon wasn’t just about personal achievement; it was a message of hope and encouragement for everyone battling their own challenges.

Rai’s journey resonated deeply with the crowd. As he and Swami crossed the finish line, they were met with thunderous applause and cheers. Their victory lap wasn’t just a physical feat; it was a symbolic triumph over adversity.

This year’s Darjeeling hill marathon attracted around 2,500 runners across various categories, including 10km and 21km races, as well as a 4.5k fun walk. The event featured a total prize money of Rs 9.8 lakh.

The marathon concluded the three-day MELOtea fest, featuring a band contest with Chromatic from Darjeeling, Ambush from Guwahati, and Guns from Countryside from Sikkim emerging as winners. Awakash Yonzone, from the band Mana of Sikkim, was honored as the best guitarist in a category dedicated to the late Sonam Sherpa of Parikrama.

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