Hawal Runner

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Breakfast after running 25 kms in the morning, this marathon runner from Shehr-e-Khas created a rare record by running 110 kms in less than 11 hours. Umar Mukhtar met the young man who is keen to record a 300 kms run – a distance separated Jammu from Srinagar – in a day

Hamid Aziz, 24, a resident of downtown Srinagar wakes up early at 5 am, fastens the laces of his sports shoes and runs more than a half-marathon, 25 kilometres. He is a passionate runner.

The run is not an ordinary one. He starts from his home at Hawal and runs non-stop till he reaches the heights of the Zabarwan Hills at Pari Mahal. There, he takes a rest of some minutes, breathes deeply the fresh air, and resumes his run, back home. There, he joins his parents in their breakfast.

Hamid has only one dream that makes him run, run and run. He wants to break the world record of ultra-marathon set by an Australian athlete who ran 303 kilometres in a single day – a distance that separates Srinagar from Jammu, which a vehicle covers almost in the same distance. No one in the world has come ever closer to him, so far.

But how he got into running, so harshly. Hamid says when he was a six or seven-year-old kid, he saw people running in the Badamwari Park, separated by the Fort from his residence. As a kid then, he said, he used to run after them.

Soon he got attracted towards it. It became then a routine for Hamid to run daily in the park for hours together.

He would make countless runs in the park and then he met an athlete, Riyaz Wani. Seeing the passion and vigour, Riyaz asked him to participate in the events. It was there that they exchanged the contacts. Then Hamid jumped into the formal sport.

Riyaz is now Hamid’s coach. He trains him and shows the basics of the sport.

Hamid now runs daily. Now he has a clear objective, a target set. This has added to his passion. There are only two things that come in between him and his run: bad weather or the restrictions. The area is witnessing restrictions frequently in place. Fridays’ are invariably no-run days. But Hamid does not stay home. He goes to a nearby Gym and exercises there on a treadmill machine.

Apart from the routine exercising and to maintain his stamina, Hamid has the proper diet. He takes foods rich in protein and carbohydrate. But taking them without the proper counselling from the dietitian can have a negative impact.

A commerce graduate, Hamid joined Islamia College of Science and Commerce, close to his Hawal home, in 2013.There, he participated in inter college racing events.

Hamid remained undefeated clinching all the three annual inter-college road racing championships till he graduated from the college in 2015. He literally had no competition.

Besides, Hamid has participated and won many other marathons during this time. In 2013, he won the 21.5 kms JK Police Marathon in a record time of 1.17 hours. He retained his supremacy in Jammu region where he won another 21.5 kms marathon, clocking it in two minutes earlier.

Hamid also makes it a point to run for a social cause. He participated in 6 km Run for Sher-e-Khaasfrom Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) to Islamia College to create awareness about the environmental pollution.

Finally, after a hard work for many years, Hamid got a call for participating in 59th Senior National in July 2017, in Andra Pradesh where he ran 1500 meters in 5.36 minutes securing ninth position.

“Running is the mother of all sports,” Hamid said.“If a person cannot run properly he can never be able to be a sportsman. So it is important to focus on running before entering in any game.”

Recently, Hamid created history by running an ultra-marathon of 110 kms non-stop from Srinagar to Baltal in 10.45 hours. This has happened first time in Jammu and Kashmir state that any person crossed over 100 km on a single day on October 22, 2017.

“The successful completion of this ultra-marathon run is an amazing feat and it also encourages other youth to take sports seriously,” Hamid said.

National Conference President and former chief minister Omar Abdullah also met Hamid and felicitated him for the rare feat.“Well done Hamid,” Omar tweeted later. “I hope he gets a chance to test his stamina against others in some of the ultra-marathon events”

For athletes, there are two categories for running. One is a marathon that is a run-up to 42kms and another is ultra-marathon which is a run of more than 42 kms.

Earlier an athlete Tanveer Ahmad was holding the record of the highest run. He had run 95 kilometres from Srinagar to Pahalgam. Now his record holds the second position.

On completing the run in a single day Hamid feels that his hard work finally paid back. “I was working hard and was hopeful of completing the run in 10 hours. It was challenging task but not impossible. I want to record my personal best,” Hamid said.

His next target: to run for190 kms in spring 2018 to break the record of Indian renowned athlete Arjun Bajwa. Bajwa has run 180 kms nonstop in 24 hours.Besides he plans to run 450 next year from Srinagar to Leh in seven days.

Finally leading towards his goal of creating a world record, Hamid hopes that he will be able to cross the mark of 303 kms. He also wants to run cross country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Also Hamid did not lose the opportunity to test his endurance when last year the Australian great marathon runner, Pat Farmer reached Kashmir for his last leg of 4400 KmsSprit of India Run.He joined the Australian great marathon runner from Jawahar tunnel and ran up to Islamabad, covering 80 kms on the first day and the next day he continued from Awantipora to Nishat with Pat to cover over 100 kms in two days.

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