Abu Dhabi: An Indian ultra-marathoner, known as ‘Barefoot Mallu’ has run solo from Abu Dhabi to Dubai – covering a total distance of 118-km in 27 hours to inspire youth to make fitness a priority.
Bengaluru-based Aakash Nambiar, 30, a native of Kalyaserry town in Kannur, Kerala, began his long-distance run along the E11 highway on January 25 at 5.30am from Abu Dhabi Corniche and reached Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai 27 hours later on January 26, coinciding with the 71st India Republic Day.
Speaking to Gulf News over the phone on Wednesday, Nambiar, who works in the marketing department of an IT company in Bangalore, said: “I took the challenge because I wanted to create health awareness with a strong message for the youth of UAE to take fitness as a priority.
“Healthcare is of superior quality in the UAE but there is still a prevalence of (non-communicable) disease such as diabetes, cancer and heart problems. These are more of lifestyle diseases.
“There is also a high case of obesity and smoking. People even under the age of 35 are not physically active. So, inspired by my friend, Dr Khaled Al Suwaidi, who ran from Abu Dhabi to Mecca, I attempted my own run to convey a message to everyone to take care of their health,” he added.
His message did not fall on deaf ears. As Nambiar said, several motorists stopped and talked to him during the run. One of them was a Pakistani driver who – upon seeing him running almost barefoot (Nambiar used vibram shoes, lightweight footwear with individual toe pockets that replicate the barefoot experience) – stopped on the road and offered him a ride.
Nambiar obviously declined the offer and explained to the man why he was running. Impressed by Nambiar’s motivation, the Pakistani driver committed to start running and cut down on his smoking.
“The man said he wanted to live a healthy life and will cut down on his cigarettes from 30 a day to 25, then 20, 10 and may eventually give it up,” Nambiar said.
For Nambiar, running has become his own form of meditation. “I can say that I’m a restless guy – I can never stay put in one place. But when I run, my mind gets clearer,” said Nambiar, who took running as his sport and passion when he was 24.
The Abu Dhabi-Dubai run, however, was not the first ultramarathon for Nambiar. He previously covered 140-km from Bengaluru to Mysuru in two days; followed by a 145-km run from Goa to Gokarna in India. He also covered the 125-km distance from Una in Himachal Pradesh to Dharamshala; 150-km from Puducherry to Chennai and 120-km from Colombo in Sri Lanka to Punavathuna, before coming to the UAE.
During his recent long-distance run, Nambiar only slept for three hours but made several pit stops at petrol stations between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. His friends were also on hand at the petrol stations and he subsisted on dates, chocolate, several litres of water and light snacks to keep his energy level up and complete his feat.
Nambiar is planning another long-distance run in the next five months.