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In the running community, there are many celebrities and they are known for their ability to go crazy distances or speeds, sometimes both. They all start somewhere but those stories are usually forgotten in the dust and glossed over in the recounting of their latest adventures. 

There is a new barefoot runner whose story is just unfolding. A couple of months ago, he was just another guy who walked or ran the odd 5k once or twice a week. Two months later, he completed his first half marathon, barefoot. His goal, an ultra someday and I have no doubt that he will accomplish it. 

A couple of months ago, I posted about a passerby who joined a few of us on a promo run with Milind Soman. Turns out, he was not a passerby but came by to meet his inspiration. That first barefoot run marked the road for Tej. In Hindi, ‘tej‘ means light and he is indeed a light of inspiration to many. His colleagues also run now, not barefoot yet, but they are regular and participate in events some weekends. 

Happy feet

I find his story very inspiring in its simplicity. His mantra is simple, ‘just run’. No frills, no fancy gadgets, diets or apparel. Just out of the door and onto the road. How did he go from zero barefoot running to a half marathon in exactly two months? His routine was uncomplicated. Just barefoot 5ks five days and a long run every week. One rest day to keep injuries at bay. While he ran solo, he had a great team in Kamlesh and Sanju, who helped him with training tips and plans, shared their enthusiasm for the sport and motivated him with information and experience. It culminated in a maiden half marathon at Coorg with his buddies. 

Tej, Kamlesh and Sanju with their inspiration

Tej’s story is the journey of single-minded effort. It began with inspiration drawn from his icon which made him do more. Running without footwear is an exuberant experience and he had the benefit of starting off on the right (bare)foot. That’s an advantage as there can be no wrong step, the road can be quite a punishing teacher. The beauty is in his passing it on with enthusiasm and motivating others. He’s been instrumental in getting three of us together to be a tiny tribe in the city. We had our maiden run over the weekend and plan to catch up atleast once a week or fortnight. 

Meet the 👣Pune barefooters!👣

A year from now, it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds…