His dream of running Sunday’s Mumbai Marathon with an artificial leg almost came to naught when his 80-year-old ailing mother passed away just two days ago. However, Major Dharmadutt Goel was not going to allow his grief overcome him. Instead, he decided to run the half marathon — all of 21.09 km — and dedicate it to his mother Manbasya.
So, a day after cremating her, the 37-year-old, Pune-based Goel hit the streets of Mumbai, running alongside the young and able-bodied. While dashing back to Pune from Panchmarhi (MP) on hearing of his mother’s death, he forgot his specially-designed prosthetic carbon fire leg. But that proved no deterrent as he simply strapped a conventional artificial leg and completed the half marathon in 2 hours and 32 minutes.
“Some extraordinary power made me complete the run. I experienced tremendous pain after the 13th kilometre but I felt it was my mother goading me to run and I finally did it,” Goel told The Indian Express.
“I always wanted to join the services,” said Goel, who had to run a dhaba to earn his livelihood. Armed with a degree, he then worked as a lecturer in a Mumbai college, before being commissioned in June 2002.
However, barely four months after that, he lost his left leg in a mine blast during Operation Parakram at Gurez sector, 198 km away from Srinagar.
Goel, however, makes light of the incident. “In January 2003, I was fitted with an artificial leg at the Artificial Limb Centre in Pune. Within three months, I began paragliding, often hurting myself badly while crashlanding. Over the years, I have dabbled with ballroom dancing, playing basketball and riding my Bullet motorcycle for expeditions that have lasted for two-three days,” he said.
And then there was long-distance running. Goel was fitted with his carbon fibre limb by prosthetic surgeon Gp Capt C N Satish at ALC, Pune a couple of months ago. It added new meaning to his running. He began putting in hours of hard work at the Pune race course.
BJP leaders Prabhat Jha, Shahnawaz Hussain and Krishnapal Gujar also addressed a number of rallies.