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‘An opportunity to start’: Virat Kohli’s one8 Run hopes to inspire first-time runners

Over 8000 people will be part of the NEB one8 Run, many of whom might take the run as the first step to a healthier lifestyle.

‘An opportunity to start’: Virat Kohli’s one8 Run hopes to inspire first-time runners

Gurbaksh Singh of Cornerstone, Reeth Abraham of NEB Sports and Jogesh Lulla of Cornerstone


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 March 2023 6:54 AM GMT

There will be quite a few star names at the one8 Run in Bengaluru on March 26, but the focus of the race will be to inspire thousands of first-time runners. Over 8000 people will be part of the run organised by Virat Kohli’s brand, one8, many of whom might take the run as the first step to a path of leading a healthier lifestyle.

“Through one8, a brand conceptualised and created jointly by Virat Kohli and Cornerstone, Virat wanted to spread the message to everyone to come out and be active. This is something he truly believes in since his fitness journey has completely changed his life,” said Jogesh Lulla, COO, Cornerstone.

“The objective of the run is to give people an opportunity to start somewhere with the hope that they will see how beneficial and fun this can be for them. We are hoping we will see a lot of first-time runners here,” he said.

Having rediscovered his fitness at the age of 41 from a point when running even 1 km was difficult, to now having run an Olympic-length triathlon, the COO of Cornerstone knows how running can open up new avenues for people as they grow older.

Another person instrumental in organising the one8 Run, project head Gurbaksh Singh of Cornerstone, also started running because he thought a new sport cannot be started at age 34. Now, he is a triathlete having completed Ironman 70.3 in Bahrain in 2019 and in Goa in 2022.

“Running marathon events allow people to come out and be aware, even if the distance is 5 km. Now in the digital age it is important to just wear your shoes and come out and play. It helps physically and it helps to be present mentally,” he said.

Making fitness accessible

Reeth Abraham, director, NEB, is a former national champion and has been active for the last 45 years, having participated and won at the global level in the 55+ women’s triple jump Masters event in 2020. Because one of her most notable achievements was when she won a national championship within 10 months of becoming a mother, she is well aware of the need to make fitness accessible to the masses.

“I was a trendsetter in the 1980s, but there are a lot more mothers who are active in the running circuit now. The thought that you cannot train if you are a mother does not exist anymore. Most people who work out are between their 30s to 60s, kids in schools and colleges take their health for granted,” she said.

On the vision of making healthy living accessible to all, Jogesh Lulla said, “Through the influence of social media, we want to use the one8 platform to promote a healthier lifestyle choice and encourage everyone to start or improve their fitness journey. Virat does make it a point to post his workout videos which we hope is encouraging others to get more active.”

A soon-to-be-launched one8 fitness app will also personalise the fitness journey for everybody, keeping in mind that not everyone is at the same fitness level and not everyone has the same fitness goal.

Growing running community

Reeth Abraham has been part of the running circles for decades, while Jogesh Lulla and Gurbaksh Singh are among those who have become part of it in recent years. Reeth said that even though there has been an exponential rise in the number of people in India’s running community over the last decade, there is still much space for it to grow.

“There has been a lot more awareness about being active since the Covid pandemic. Those of us who were active got back on our feet much faster than those who made excuses of not having enough time to exercise. Ten years ago, no one thought they would run marathons, now people go abroad to run, it is a common question to ask people their marathon timings. There has been growing awareness that money is important but that health is even more important,” she said.

On how running can have the power to transform lives, she said, “It teaches dedication, perseverance. It is not just about winning medals, sports helps you approach things, behave and react differently.”

Gurbaksh Singh, who is excited by running because he knows exactly how to push his limits when he runs, said, “It gives you something to look forward to, a run helps to channelise your energy. There is also the beautiful feeling of winning a medal, of feeling like you have achieved something.”

A unique 18km distance

One of the most refreshing aspects about the one8 Run which has got participants excited is the distance - 18 km, 3 km less than a half-marathon.

“This is the first run that we know of that will have an 18km category. After talking to a lot of runners, all of them felt this was a fantastic distance since it is normally when people running a half marathon hit a wall and slow down. It is also a distance close enough to a 21k for aspiring half marathoners to try,” said Jogesh Lulla.

“The 18km distance was decided because that is the number associated with Virat Kohli’s brand as it is his jersey number,” added Gurbaksh Singh.

The NEB one8 Run is open to everyone, offering three categories - 5 km, 10 km, and 18 km. The run will start from the Nice Road Toll Plaza, Dwaraka Nagar, Hosakerehalli, Bengaluru at 6 am on March 26.

The one8 Run in Bengaluru is only the beginning of what its stakeholders have planned in the journey of promoting fitness. There will be three more runs this year, one in Bengaluru and two in other cities. Next year, many more cities are set to witness the run.

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