The sun had barely risen above the horizon. Gathered in the Felicity Ground were a host of participants, collecting their jerseys and bibs for the 10k and 5k runs, organized by IIIT as a part of their 25th anniversary.
In some ways, the run was analogous to the humble beginnings of the institute. Admittedly, the run had a fixed end, something that IIIT’s founders could not have said about the future. Little did most people know, that they would complete the 10 kilometers running; for many people (including yours truly), running only a few kilometres would be an achievement in itself, just like how the founders may have thought of IIIT while starting off.
Back when the form had come out, I had signed myself up for the 10k run in jest, giving myself the choice to bail out in the middle. Recovering from a knee injury, I did not want to stress my knee out in case of an injury relapse.
Entering the campus towards the end of the first lap, I was tiring out, and had even begun walking, succumbing to my inner demon that was begging me to do so much earlier. My thighs felt like sandbags, and I wanted to give up at the 5k mark. However, there was a twinge of regret somewhere hidden, pushing me to persevere. There was no knowing how long I would be running, but I wanted to give my best before giving up.
It is often said that it is not the journey or the destination that matters, but the company one keeps. In my case, it was a senior whom I started running along with somewhere in the middle of the race. It is hard to remember when we started going together, but what I do remember is how, wordlessly, he encouraged me to push on. We both ran beside each other, the only sounds being our breathing, powering us through the race. During the final kilometer, my legs began cramping up and muscles began to sore, however, the angelic voice inside of me inspired me to push on, given how close I was to the finish line.
And finish I did, making sure I was running until the end. Approaching the finish line, I simultaneously felt I could run forever, thanks to the inertia, and I couldn’t run anymore, due to tiring out. Post the run, once I sat down, however, a wave of euphoria rushed over me. Despite everything, I had managed to complete the run, and that was all that mattered in the end. Even though my thighs continue to hurt today, the memory of approaching the finish line is something that will be etched in my brain forever.