“A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tsu

It was a rather unusual sight on that humid Sunday morning in Mumbai… 18 January, 6:15 am – a group of about 100 Isha volunteers were sitting in vajrasan at the Azad Maidan , amidst thousands and thousands of other people who were busy warming up for the long run ahead. All geared up in their Isha Vidhya T-shirts (sponsored by Airtel) and headbands (sponsored by Religare-Technova), they were doing their invocation before starting the 21 km half-marathon. The diverse group of men and women, aged between 21 and 65 +, most of them without previous running experience, were all set to use their bodies and minds to run for Isha Vidhya.

Just two weeks prior to this event, Sadhguru had spoken to a lot of these runners at a surprise Sathsang in Mumbai. He spoke about how an attempt like this had been made with a London Isha Vidhya “walkathon.” But he said in India, there was no time to walk, we have to run because the over 60 % of Indians who are uneducated urgently need to be empowered with quality education. To make this happen, there is no time to waste. At the Sathsang, he blessed all those running for the marathon and requested the others to come and cheer the runners.

Some of the participants had been training hard for over three months to make sure they would complete the run well. At the same time, they were collecting contributions to help Isha Vidhya build another school. There were many wonderful attempts to collect contributions ranging from news items on Facebook and Orkut groups, to seeking sponsorships from corporations and support from colleagues, friends and family.

That morning, this determined bunch of Isha volunteers ran amidst over 30,000 people in total who were participating either in the half-marathon (21 km), the full marathon (42 km), the 6 km “dream run”, the senior citizens’ run or the wheelchair event. The course led from the CST station to the Marine drive, past the challenging Kemps Corner flyover all the way to Worli and back to the starting point. Some of the Isha volunteers ran, others jogged and the gutsy first time lot walked the 21km, following the motto “it’s the taking part that counts.”

There were scores and scores of Isha volunteers along the route who eagerly awaited the participants. Armed with a supply of water and snacks, Isha Vidhya banners and flags, they cheered and motivated the runners to go for that one extra kilometer of walking or running.

After two hours, those running managed well to complete the 21 km long track. Several volunteers jogged and finished the run after a good 2 ½ to 3 hours. And then there were those who walked and walked with determination and commitment to complete the distance. They were walking for 3 to 4 hours and more before reaching the finishing line where Isha volunteers cheered and photographed each one of them.

That day, something extraordinary had happened. It was a grueling test of courage, intensity and trust. People who had never believed they could do something like this had put their physical and mental limits to the test – with amazing results. No matter whether they were tired, losing their breath or if their legs did not want to move anymore, they would not give up. It was as if a new microcosm of intensity and focus had been created there by the people who ran, by those who cheered and by those who helped quietly behind the scenes to make this event happen.

Some of them may never really see the Isha Vidhya School; they may never see the rural child who will create a new future for himself or herself at the school they contributed for with these 21 km of sadhana. At the end of the run, their knees hurt, their feet were tired, their backs ached, but there was a sweet joy in all that pain. It was the joy of breaking one’s own limitations and reaching out to others.

Participants shared:

“For me, the run meant a lot. I feel I gave back something in some way to the world in general. It was a superb confidence booster. It also taught me that there are no limitations to what you can do. And last but not the least, it made me happy.” – Soumya Jairaj

“The whole experience was so beautiful – I enjoyed the run for the first 15-16 km – it was comfortable. The last 4 -5 km were difficult – I largely walked but kept going. Whenever I would feel tired, I used to see the Ishaites cheering and so many other wonderful Mumbaikars who were out on the road – just to encourage. I would have probably never attempted this but for Isha.” – Rajeshwari Kesavan

“After morning practices and invocation, I was determined that I wanted to complete the run but somewhere at the 16km mark I was feeling drained with the heat and then…I thought of Sadhguru and Isha Vidhya children…. That made the run happen gracefully for me. It was surprising to me that even after the completion I felt I could go on. An amazing experience. I am ever obliged to Sadhguru and Isha for making it happen!” – Kalpana Maniar