At 60, visually-challenged Amarjeet Singh Chawla from Mumbai ran his 57th half marathon. In Pune for the National Opthalmology Institute (NIO) Vision Marathon held on November 6, Chawla was the sole visually-impaired participant while a few ran blindfolded with buddy partners.
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Singh was guided by Prasad Patil for the run. “At 13, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration — a leading cause for vision loss — and was completely blind by the time I was 40. That’s when I decided I had to do something not just for myself but for a cause. I took up running and in 2004 at the age of 48 ran 7 km at the first edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon,” Singh said.
There has been no looking back since then. Singh, who is married and has two daughters, undergoes training at home. Not only did he run the half marathon 17 times last year, he now aims to run at least 101 times. A feat that is not difficult for this 60-year-old who claims to be the only visually-challenged person to have climbed the Dolma La Pass at 19,500 feet, in 2009.
“It has been a tough journey to lose vision slowly but surely from the age of 13,” recalls Singh. Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve to the brain. While he sought treatment for 32 long years, Singh decided to take up an activity that made him feel complete.
Dr Aditya Kelkar, Director of NIO that conducted the third edition of the Vision Marathon on Sunday, along with the Run Buddies Club organised the run which had 2,156 participants who ran 3 km, 5 km, 10 km and the half marathon of 21 km.