NBK (National Bank of Kuwait) organized its 18th Annual Walkathon event as part of its award winning CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs on Saturday March 24th 2012. It’s motto for this event was ‘Health with every step’. This is true, since this event motivated people to get up from the comforts of their couches & take a step towards a healthier lifestyle.
Walking of all the sports is very safe for people of all ages as there are no injuries involved & all it takes to start is get up & get-going. Even if you’ve never exercised for a very long time & you want to make a start, walking is the way to go. You can start walking everyday for 15-30 minutes & gradually increase it to at-least an hour a day. That way, you could drive away various ailments that come your way & also live an optimal life.
Well, I’d always heard about the NBK walkathon drives during these previous years. This year, I had some awakening in me that compelled me to take part in this eventJ. I took the plunge about a month before the D day. I took it like a test and which I didn’t want to fail. You know, I didn’t even tell my wife that I’m going to participate..ha ha..Well, secretly I wanted to win you know & surprise herJ..yhea, yhea…winning…all dreams! Hmmm..It doesn’t hurt to Aim High!!
And so my training program began. I started running, no actually walking on the treadmill on alternate days. I’ve always done some sort of fitness training but never religiously on schedule. I’m an ‘average joe’ who dreams of being the next star. Well actually for this event, I did train in my own amateurish way for some four weeks altogether excluding the weekend breaks. I used to clock around 75-80 mins for the target of 8K. Towards the end of four weeks, I managed to bring the time down to 70 mins I think. I ‘googled’ for walkathon tips & ‘How to’ videos. But all in all, I never got around to follow these videos or tips. I tried to walk the way they described as in the proper foot moment & the way you swing your arms & hips, but being an amateur, I left all these to the professionals & just continued on in my own way.
D Day arrived & I woke up all pushing to go for this event. The Weather Gods in Kuwait favored us in much this day & so it was a bright and beautiful sun shiny day – not too hot nor cold, just right! You know, the month of March is usually unstable weather out here. You can have fog, rains, sandstorm & clean weather all in a day. Being nervous & not wanting to take chances, I visited the bathroom couple of times in the morning to ensure that I didn’t have to go during the event (exerting myself in the loo – embarrassing to write but this is humorous). This was after-all my first athletic event (excluding the annual sports day held in school days), hence the nerves & not forgetting my secret desire to win. I didn’t take lunch but had a proper breakfast of scrambled eggs & coffee I think.
The Men’s event was slotted for 03 pm with other various time slots allocated for groups of different ages – This is for kids, women & men. I managed to persuade my wifey (being her day off) to leave right before time just to be safe. We reached the spot at around 02:00 finally & went ahead to drop off our raffle tickets. Yes, NBK also had a Raffle Draw! Yes they were giving all the participants the chance to win two new cars i.e. the Mazda MX5 2012 & Peugeot 207 CC 2012!! Boy oh boy, how everybody really wanted to hear their names as winners to this wonderful Raffle held by NBK.
The crowd starting forming up as the time towards the race start loomed up. For my department at work, I could recognize only one colleague who happily teamed up aside me. I welcomed the companionship since there was no one else for motivation & giving a boost. We secretly sized out our competitors in our group and managed to meekly smile on seeing some guys looking in good form. I tried being calm despite my heart beating faster by the minute (given my secret desire). My wife clicked a few photographs with us posing in our race numbers. Our race was to start along with another group who were aged 50 & above. That group formed ahead of us at the start up line & we were behind them. The Race official fired the shotgun at exactly 03:00 pm & off we went. Initially there was a bit of confusion, since because they wanted only the senior group to start first but behind them even our group went off with them. The race organizers did not stop them & so, the walkathon had officially begun. Me & my colleague stumbled a bit due to this confusion but anyways we too took off once we saw all the crowd moving. That way, some of us did loose quite a bit of head start!
Wow, talking about head start, by the time we were on our way, I could see people way ahead. I didn’t lose heart thinking that they probably started too fast & might tire out ahead. And so we walked on, I tried walking in the professional way as per the videos I’d seen on the net, but that didn’t make a difference to my speed. I was surprised that my colleague who I believe, probably never practiced for this race was also walking comfortably besides me. Anyhow, I walked my paced and tried to slowly increase my pace. But wait a minute, as I increased my pace, a mild but constant pain started to surface on my lower tibia bone. I was starting to regret that I should have done some sort of warm-up probably? Not –sure. It was a bit disheartening to see people from my group move on ahead. I didn’t stop but kept at a steady pace. During the course of the race, we saw many people half trotting and some outright running! Now, of course, there were referees who must’ve aptly disqualified them. Nevertheless, it is cheating & against the spirit of the competition. The traffic was mild on the road and people were waving & cheering us on. I should also commend the MOI who were monitoring the traffic for the safety of the competitors & who too waved at us whenever we passed them. They really did an excellent job & hats off to them.
I tried to strategize & improvise on my walking pace (meanwhile changed my secret desire from winning and instead to at-least come in the top ten). I didn’t stop for water that was gratefully passed out by NBK volunteers along the way. I was telling myself that I should be able to suffice without any supplements as it was just 8K & telling my legs come-on show me what you gotJ Boy, we’d hardly being half-way thru & I’m like asking myself ‘are we there yet?’. Things were heating up….yet I continued on, looking at the next guy ahead me & trying to overtake him and then again the next guy. Slowly but steadily I was moving ahead of the group who’d overtaken us earlier. Meanwhile, I lost track when my colleague was left back as now I was focusing on trying to alteast come in the top ten. When I could see Green Island tower which signaled the end of the race, I was in panic mode as I could see probably more than ten guys ahead. I increased my pace furiously despite the pain now also near my chest & my legs. Now, it was a point of just finishing the race for personal satisfaction & also being in the top group. I was given a green card when I reached the end point & I mistakenly assumed that I’d come in the top ten (they didn’t let us know our positions until the winners were announced later in the evening). Anyhow, I’m sure I finished in 60-65 minutes cause I called up my wife to tell her we probably may have to wait for the prize distribution cause they took my name when I completed my race (now I’m not sure why since I was not in top ten).
The prize distribution was held later in the evening at the Green Island. It was a very festive atmosphere with the live band playing & people enjoying the good music. Media people were covering the whole event and this being even broadcasted live on NBK media channels. NBK also gave away lots of prizes for various quiz questions during the show. Finally, the prize distribution came up & the winners were announced one by one from different age groups. Initially, I assumed I may have been in the top ten, but my name was not announced. But all in all, I didn’t let that affect the satisfaction of having completed the walkathon in the top group. The Raffle draw winners were announced & two lucky winners were the brand new owners of these prize cars! The ceremony ended with spectacular fireworks that mesmerized the audience and especially the children.
To summarize this event, it was an event that gave me the feeling of personal achievement. I may have not won the race, but what counts is trying to set a goal & working slowly but steadily towards that goal. If we set our sights High UP, we may at-least reach somewhere at the Top! My lesson learnt is that, thru hard work & perseverance always make difficult things easy & this is what we need to always remind ourselves whenever life seems unfair & things don’t workout the way they should.
So my friends, don’t always take the path which is well tread, do explore uncharted areas in life which may beacon you & who knows, maybe you’ll find something interesting. Go find something which you’ve always desired to do but stopped because of some reason or other…
I leave you with this quotation from William Shakespeare – “To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.”
PS: I intend to make this a tradition & will be participating in all future NBK Walkathons…..Here’s to ‘Good Health.’