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Running for a cause
NIBEDITA SEN | Sunday, 19 March 2017 AT 08:41 PM IST
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Pune youngster Anuja Mudda ran the 450 km distance, to aid the cause of child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse
In India, seven out of 10 girls get molested before they become adults. Whatever happens with them in their childhood stays with them for life, and continues to haunt them forever.... We need to talk about it instead of hiding it

It requires much mental and physical endurance to run marathons. But to run a distance of almost 500 km, one needs something more – determination and in case of Anuja Mudda, a cause too.

When 25-year-old Anuja began her journey from Pune on March 8, she had only two things on her mind — reaching Goa, the destination of her run and helping children suffering sexual abuse.

“I am doing this to help the cause of an NGO named Arpan. It works in the area of child abuse. In India, seven out of 10 girls get molested before they become adults. Whatever happens with them in their childhood stays with them for life, and continues to haunt them forever,” Anuja told Gomantak Times after completing her run that covered six cities including Pune, Satara, Karad, Kolhapur, Belgaum and Panaji, where she arrived on March 16.

Having squeezed what should have been seven to eight months of training into a month, Anuja flagged off her run on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Add to it the fact that she has been a runner barely for a year. “I used to reside in Mumbai until a couple of years ago and used to take walks at Shivaji Park in Dadar. That is when I met this runner’s group which urged me to join them. I did so reluctantly and soon was registered for the Mumbai Marathon without my knowledge. That was it. I ran 42 km straight and then there was no looking back,” recalls Anuja who is a professor at a Pune-based management institute.

What was the one month of training like?
“I would just keep running basically —through the afternoons and night because I wanted to prepare for every kind of weather. I would even run post meals. Same goes for food, I was told to eat protein and carb-rich food which I did. But I ate normal food too considering that is what I would have to eat through the journey. I only avoided oils and spices,” she says.

The cause
Speaking of her cause, she says that talking about child abuse is a big way of discouraging it. “We need to talk about it instead of hiding it. I therefore asked Arpan NGO what I could do for the cause. “Service or donation,” they said. I decided to do both,” she explains. She thus approached ‘Mobiefit Run’ mobile app which helped her raise Rs 50 for every kilometre she ran.

The journey

Through her journey, wherever Anuja halted, she was given a warm welcome. “When I reached Belgaum city, I was welcomed by runners and cyclists from ‘Belgaum Hill Runners’ and ‘Runtastic Club’. I encouraged all the women there to run with me to the finish line,” she said.

She also met a number of school children and their mothers, and told them about the highly prevalent issue of abuse. “All I told them was to speak up,” she says.

It was not a smooth sailing for her though. She had to overcome intense pain in the sole and hamstring muscle after arriving at Kolhapur on the fourth day of her run. But thanks to her physiotherapist and the support from runners, she says, she completed the journey successfully.

As for her future plans, Anuja says that currently she is in the recovery mode. “Next is preparation mode and then, certainly, I wish to do something larger,” she concludes.


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