Age: 61; sex: female; dress code: sari; gear: barefoot; event: Baramati Marathon; finish: FIRST!!
Yes! That is the unexpected and surprising tale that emerged from the Baramati marathon as Lata Bhagwan Kare outran every other conventional runner to emerge victorious at the event.
She took everyone – the organizers, the spectators and fellow competitors – completely by surprise, as not only was this her first ever race of such a kind, but she also established a big lead over the remaining participants within minutes of the start.
Everything about this runner was a surprise element, right from her being 61-years-old, to running barefoot and the fact that she wore a traditional nauvari (Maharashtrian sari) while running.
And the final bit of the puzzle that stumped everyone present was the fact that not only did she perform well, but she beat all the experienced marathoners in the fray to finish first.
Kare is a farm labourer who stays in a town called Pimpli, which is about 7 km away from Baramati. Some of her relatives informed her of the event just a few days before the main race day after which she left to compete.
“When I came to know about the competition, I decided to participate in the event. I gathered courage and informed my son that I wanted to run the Marathon. Initially, he gave me a weird look as in his opinion it was not possible, given my age. But I was determined, so he finally gave in,” Kare told DNA.
She revealed that she was used to walking one kilometre every day to get home from where she worked and that it held her in good stead during the event.
“I used to go for morning walks daily, but I had never run. If I had even tried to run, people would have found it strange and they would have asked me uncomfortable questions,” Kare laughed.
Kare stays with her husband and son in Pimpli where they have been residing for three years now. They originally hail from the Buldhana district and had migrated to Pimpli for work.
Kare revealed that she felt a little nervous standing at the start line – “I felt a little awkward, as all the other participants were staring at my dress. That also made me a little nervous. However, when the race began and I started overtaking them one by one, I gained my energy. While running I was talking to myself and telling that I want to win this race and I did it.”
Kare, in fact, did not start the race barefoot; she initially ran with her slippers on. But she did away with them a few metres into the race, when one of them slipped out from under her foot and she decided to abandon the other one.
Organizer Sachin Satav said on this surprising development, “We never expected a participant like Kare to be the winner of the race. It was pleasant surprise. We were extremely happy while handing over the trophy to Kare.”
After her miraculous run, there was only one question on everyone’s mind – whether she would run more races in future?
To that query she replied – “I want to. But only god knows whether I remain as strong then as I am today.”