By Quaid Najmi
Pune/Kargil, Sep 18 (SocialNews.XYZ) The stark hills and dales of Ladakh are all set to welcome over 2,000 sprinters from all over India and some other countries who will participate in the '5th Sarhad Kargil International Marathon' (SKIM), scheduled on Monday (September 19), in Kargil with a theme, 'Run For Apricot', the organisers said here.
The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Manoj Pande will flag off the 5th SKIM in a virtual ceremony in the presence of top officials, while Lt. Governor Radha Krishna Mathur, Ladakh Police chief ADG Satish Khandhare shall attend the event, said Sarhad Founder Sanjay Nahar in Pune.
"The SKIM is organised in collaboration with Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil and District Administration Kargil since 2017. The marathon was not held in 2019 and 2020 for various reasons," Nahar told IANS.
Speaking from site as the early winter chill flits in, Nahar said that the LAHDC CEC Feroz Ahmed Khan and Union Territory of Ladakh CEO Santosh Sukhadeve have reviewed the final preparations for the mega-event in the sparse-oxygen region where first-timers gasp for breath and need to acclimatise for some days.
He said that this year's theme is 'Run For Apricot' as the local farmers' tribute to the Centre for permitting the export of the luscious Ladakhi fruit, after a gap of 35 years from January this year.
Recognised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the SKIM winners will get prizes worth a total of Rs 8 lakh in various categories.
"We envisaged the SKIM with an aim to amalgamate the Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh region with the rest of the country, and with participation by so many marathoners from India and abroad, to unveil its tourism potential before the world," said Nahar.
On this occasion, there will be a special function to give away the Sarhad's 'Kargil Gaurav National Award-2022' to six eminent persons for their contributions in various fields, on Monday (Septembe 19).
They are: Physiotherapist Dr. Ali Irani of Mumbai, academician and social activist Pt. Shankarprasad Agnihotri of Wardha, architect Imran Sheikh of Pune (all Maharashtra); retired Wing Commander Ashok Kumar Saraf from Jammu, media-person Shobha Kapoor from New Delhi and sculptor Tsering Gurmet from Ladakh.
Another 100 locals will be felicitated for providing support to the Indian Army during the Kargil War of mid-1999, said the organisers, Dr. Shailesh Pagariya, Mohammad Ali, Syed Mehrajuddin Shah, Abhay Chajed, Sanjeev Shah and Vaibhav Wagh.
They will be awarded certificates from EkIndia and a gold-silver-diamond ring designed and donated by Pune-based jewellers Sanket and his brother Sandesh Biyani.
"The ring is unique, infused with the soil collected from all over India, with 'Bharat' embossed on it signifying the country's ancient identity as a 'sone ki chidiya', a real diamond with the words - 'You Are The Diamond' - engraved on it," said Nahar.
Meanwhile, the finishing touches were given to the 5th SKIM for the 42.19 kms full marathon, 21.09 kms half-marathon, besides other legs, and a wheel-chair run.
Based in Pune, the NGO Sarhad is involved in social, cultural and educational activities dedicated to people in the violence-ravaged Jammu & Kashmir, besides working in other states like Assam, Manipur and Punjab.
After the Kargil War, Sarhad has 'adopted' 39 orphans and another 150 children from Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh, taking full care of their education and other requirements since the past 23 years.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)