The Manipal Runners’ Club (MRC) organised a beach run on July 22nd. The event, which started at seven that morning, drew a sizable number of participants from many colleges in Manipal. A pick-up bus stationed at the EDU building ferried several of Manipal’s enthusiastic souls to the beach at Kodi Bengre.
The run was organised as an affirmative response to Ms. Claire McFarlane’s email to MRC. Claire, originally from Australia, has been conducting beach runs in several parts of the world as a part of her ‘Footsteps to Inspire’ initiative. Its aims are to raise awareness about sexual violence and to assist those who have gone through such traumatic experiences and lived, bravely, to tell the tale. She is propelled by a strong desire to help such victims feel a little less alone, to shower them with the support and encouragement they need to move past the horror of the incident, and function in the world from a place of strength and power.
Claire herself was sexually assaulted in 1999 when she was an arts student in Paris. She was twenty-one. The incident changed the trajectory of her life completely – she moved back to Australia, seemingly stuck in a legal battle to find the man who attacked her and claim adequate compensation. The process took several years. It was then that she realized just how warped legal systems in certain countries can be regarding the issue of sexual crimes. She also found out that she was not alone. Many women all over the world bear unimaginable despair in silence. The ultimate goal of ‘Footsteps to Inspire’ is to help such victims connect with each other, break their agonizing silence, and take a step forward towards hope and recovery. The run takes on a whole new level of meaning when this backstory is known, and one can’t help being inspired by Claire’s immense bravery and grit.
The run consisted of three categories – five, ten and sixteen kilometres, with around fifty runners in total. The last category commemorated the sixteenth year she has been running in different locations to promote her noble cause.
Running in the morning at Malpe was a joy in itself – the cool breeze, the taste of salty sea air, the sound of waves crashing onto the shore – all conspired to add something of beauty to the experience. Running with single-minded dedication to a worthy cause and an open heart, in the company of many other open hearts, heralded a sense of fulfillment and poignancy that one does not come across all too often in the muddle of daily life.
Photographers- Deva Sooriya, Bhanu Srinivas Munagala, Arvind Krishnan
PR- Sarthak Bhardwaj