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Samir Singh: The Untold Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days

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There wasn't any organisational backing, no trainers, physiotherapists or dietitians; all that Samir Singh needed was mere Rs 190 a day, some donated equipment and clothes, a GPS watch and a basic mobile phone for emergencies to pursue his unearthly quest of running a staggering 10,000km in just 100 days.

It was a hot summer morning on 29 April, when Singh left his house in suburban Mumbai - barefoot and with his childhood friend Ramesh in tow - to begin the daunting task he believed he was destined to undertake. 

One leg in a bandage, arms moving in rhythm and eyes set on his goal; the 44-year-old ran for about 20km to reach the southern tip of the city. But there was no stopping to Singh who was hellbent on testing his endurance by running 100km in 100 days. To put his goal in perspective, that's more than the length of Mumbai-Pune Expressway (94.5km), or like running from Gurugram to Noida and back (102km), all in a single day.

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

Somedays it was scorching hot, other times, it was rain hammering down on his scrawny body. Running barefoot on the road even gave him blisters. But, none of them were good enough to deter Singh's ambitions as he went from strength to strength every day. 

But, his biggest hurdles came later in his journey when he was plagued by injuries and a gastro-intestinal infection that saw him contracting viral fever. After falling behind schedule through illness, the 5-feet-7-inche tall 'Faith Runner' needed to clock 150km on the final day of his run.

His attempt to register an inhuman feat finally came to an agonising end as he fell short by a mere 36km. It was undeniably heart-breaking for Singh to falter at the very end, but the fact that he still covered 9,964.19km in 100 days is an astronomical feat in itself.

Upon completion of his run, India's very own 'Faith Runner' weighed a skinny 40kgs. While he lost a staggering 15kgs over the past three-and-a-half months, the weight of his achievement is clearly strong enough to make a billion individuals feel proud.

Running: A Love Affair

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

Hailing from a village called Kanhakheda in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, Singh started running at the age of 35. He ran a short distance every day and within 50 days, he had run 42km. Singh had fallen in love with running.

“Running is all that I know, ever since I started a decade ago. I'm from a village called Kanhakheda in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. When my school building collapsed, it wiped out all records of my education. So, when I came to Mumbai, I could never find a proper job,” Singh told Livemint.

“When I realized I could run, I fell in love with it. Soon, I became a running coach. It became my bread and butter and it's all that I know today,” he added.

Devotion Meets Preparation

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

A Lord Krishna devotee, Singh decided to move to Vrindavan in November 2016 in a bid to train for five months. In between chanting and praying, he continued his other religious practice of running and ran an average of 75km a day.

Since many devotees visit Vrindavan and Govardhan to do the 'Parikrama' as part of their religious expedition, Singh found the best possible way to train. Unlike in Mumbai, where he was chased by dogs while people on the street laughed at him, the locals in Lord Krishna's birthplace thought Singh was another baba who was performing a pilgrimage by running.

It was the perfect aid for his training as Singh continued to push himself till he managed to do more than a few 100km runs in a single day. Content with his training, the 'Faith Runner' returned to Mumbai and did a few practice runs of 100km a day before embarking on  'Mission Impossible'.

Sticking To A Diet & Routine

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

Since Singh is a vegetarian, he doesn't follow a diet or fixed meal plan. Instead, he tries to make sure he eats regularly, snacks through the day and remains hydrated. His meals are simple - dal and rice, boiled potatoes and lal chana (red gram) with an accompanying vegetable.

During his challenge, he divided his run in two parts - covering 60-75km in the first half of the day followed by some rest and then resuming in the evening again. Staring daily at 4AM, Singh would run around 60-70km until 1pm. After some food and rest, he would go back to running till he attained his daily mileage of 100km.

A Helping Hand

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

Driven by his passion for running, the 44-year-old didn't have backing of any sorts - neither from an organisation, nor from an individual. With his eyes set on the road, Singh had just begun a potential life-threatening task without informing anyone.

But, on the 47th day of his run, Singh was spotted by documentary filmmakers Vandana and Vikram Bhatti. The brother-sister duo were taken aback by his story and soon christened him 'The Faith Runner'. Since then, the two filmmakers have been busy running a Facebook campaign to create awareness and generate funds for Singh.

Not Your Average Ultra-Marathoner

The Story Of India's 'Faith Runner' Who Ran 9,964 Km In 100 Days© Facebook/The Faith Runner

Since he learnt about running on his own, his story is, therefore, undoubtedly different from the general focus on science, nutrition and recovery that modern-day ultra-marathon runners comply with. He began running late in his life when he saw the Kenyans at the Mumbai marathon. And, immediately, he wanted to compete with them.

After a few marathons, the 'Faith Runner' realised he was better at the ultra-marathons. At the Mumbai Ultra (a 12-hour run), for instance, Singh finished on top after having logged 121km in 2016 and 107km in 2015. But, his hunger to reach his true potential propelled him to run longer distances.

While the Milind Somans, Gul Panags and Rahul Boses in the country become a spectacle at the marathons (that don't last for more than 43km), Samir Singh had no crew tailing him, nor anyone to cheer him as he almost achieved the 10,000km mark in 100 days.

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