CRICKETER CHETESHWAR Pujara on Wednesday announced that he will continue his association with Rajkot Marathon as its brand ambassador this season also and that he will himself participate in the event scheduled for February 5 next year.
“I have the honour of becoming brand ambassador of Rajkot Marathon for second consecutive year. Talking about my experience last year, I had participated in the half marathon and a number of residents of Rajkot had also joined in and extended their support. This time round, it is a full marathon. The theme is Swachh Rajkot and water conservation. This is also a step towards making Rajkot a smart city and therefore cooperation of everybody is very important. I appeal residents of Rajkot to participate in the event and espouse the cause of making Rajkot clean and conserving water. I also appeal to those who cannot participate to come and cheer up the runners the way they had done last year,” Pujara announced at a press conference held at headquarters of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC).
RMC and Rajkot city police are jointly organising Rajkot Marathon, 2017 which will be held on February 5. Rajkot mayor Jaiman Upadhyay, Rajkot city police commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot, Rajkot municipal commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani and deputy mayor Darshita Shah were present when Pujara made the announcement of continuing to endorse Rajkot Marathon. Sponsors of the event were also present on the occasion.
Pujara who is a native and a resident of Rajkot city had participated in the inaugural Rajkot Half-Marathon organised on January 24 this year and completed the 21-kilometres long race along with then municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra. The stylish batsman who had hit two centuries in the recently concluded Test series against England which hosts India won 4-0, is a popular figure in the city. Pujara’s teammate in Idian senior cricket team and Saurashtra Rajnji team, Ravindra Jadeja is a also a popular face in Rajkot but he rarely makes public appearances.
Pujara said that he would try to be part of the race this time also. “Last year, I had completed half marathon. This year also, I shall try to participate in the event,” said the 28-year-old cricketer.
When asked if he would like any other cricketer as a running partner at the marathon event, Pujara said he was not aware of schedule of other cricketers for that week and therefore doesn’t know if anybody else will join in.
The municipal commissioner said that the Indian cricket star was rendering honourary service to Rajkot Marathon. “It is a privilege that Pujara has consented to be brand ambassador of Rajkot Marathon, 2017. He is inspiration to many in the city and his presence will certainly encourage people to participate in the marathon,” said Pani.
Pani further said that 17,700 people had already registered for the Marathon, 2017 so far and that the registration will be open till January 15. He said that round 100 runners had registered for the full marathon and around 350 for half-marathon. The rest were in the categories of dream run of 10 km, Rangila Rajkot Run for five km, veterans’ run and special run of 2.5 km for differently-abled.
The mayor thanked Pujara for continuing endorsing Rajkot Marathon and added that the event will help build an image of Rajkot city. “We had waived off user charges at our athletics ground for those who completed half marathon last season. We shall continue this offer for runners for this season also,” Upadhyay announced.
Police commissioner Gehlot, who is chairman of the organising committee of Rajkot Marathon, 2017 said that proceeds generated by the event will be used for making Rajkot cleaner and solve issues of vehicular traffic congestion in the city. “Suraksha Setu Society (an organisation promoted by police) will also play a big role in the event. We shall encourage participation of school students and police trainees in the marathon,” said Gehlot.
Around 40,000 people had participated in the half-marathon in January this year. Buoyed by the response, the organisers have decided to hold a full marathon of 42.195 km in addition to the half marathon other events. Pani said that the expected expenditure for entire event this year will be around Rs2 crore. “We hope to meet these expenses through event sponsors. To make it a world-class event, we have engaged Lihas Trivedi as race director,” added Pani.
The total prize money for the event is Rs 20.72 lakh. There will be separate prizes for Indian runners in the full marathon.