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.
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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.