This Lady Ran 450 Km from Pune to Goa to Raise Money And Educate People about Child Abuse

Anuja Mudda raised Rs. 1.5 lakhs on her eight-day run across three states

Image: Instagram

People run for a lot of reasons. Some run to lose weight, some to just get out of their homes, some run to gather their thoughts, and some just run because they love running. There are, however, a few people who run for a cause. Anuja Mudda is one such person. Mudda ran 450 km in eight days from Pune to Goa to raise funds and awareness about child molestation. Bayside Journal spoke to the 25-year-old from Pune and this is what she had to say:

Why Child Molestation

I tried to find how many NGOs in India work on child molestation. I researched a lot and was able to come up with only four NGOs that are worth talking about in the whole country. I realised that people don’t do anything about this cause. I got in touch with the NGO Arpan.

I asked them, ‘How can I help?’ Arpan said I can either contribute funds or help out with service. I decided to do both. The problem is that people don’t really take out money from their pockets. I had to find a better way. I called the people at Mobiefit and they were all for it.

Anyone who downloads the app and runs in this country anywhere between March 8 and 22, would be able to raise money for Arpan at Rs. 50 a km.

Why Pune-Goa

I teach in Pune. I am an instructor for T.I.M.E. where I teach English to potential MBA students. I also chose this route because it would mean I would run through three states and eight cities. Mobiefit had a condition for me running. I had to stop at colleges and schools and talk to students about child molestation and raise awareness.

We decided to run 60 km a day. Two reasons for this: One, it’s challenging, and two, I didn’t have a huge budget. If I cut down on the number of km, I would have to increase my budget for hotels and food.

The Run

We started on March 8 which was Women’s Day. More than 100 people joined me at the flag-off. I was supposed to start off at 4:00 a.m. but I started at 6:30 a.m. because a lot of people wanted to join me. Because I started late, I finished late at 10:30 p.m.. And that carried over to the next day. I couldn’t wake up early and the first 3-4 days went off like that. I had never done more than 40 km in a day before this run and I didn’t know how my body would take it.

Places I stopped at: Day one at Shirwal, day two at Satara, day three at Karad, day four at Kolhapur, day six at Sankeshwar, day seven at Belgaum and day eight was Goa.

At Karad, I got help from a physio. I have flat feet. He taped my feet. He said it will reduce pressure and pain on my legs. At Kolhapur, after 55 km, I thought would faint at any moment. I had to stop.

We called a doctor. She did a check-up and said my body was swelling up everywhere, right from hamstring muscles to my calves to feet. She advised me to take a day off. She came at 10 in the night and helped out and again at 6 in the morning.

At Kolhapur, day 5 we took a day off. We ran to Sankeshwar the next day. At Sankeshwar, I started having knee pain. This happens because of stiffness and exertion. We were there at 7:30 p.m.. Day 7 was Belgaum. The physio there treated me until 1 in the night.

We had to run across Chorla Ghat the next day. But when we woke up early, there were wild animals on the ghats and too many vehicles coming at high speeds. We couldn’t take the risk. We had to stop at 43 km. The last day, I had to run 60 km to make it to Goa and make it 450 km.

The Challenges

Major challenges for me were food, sleep, soreness, ghats and inclines.

The delay at the start meant that I had to run in the heat. I used to get dehydrated so fast. I also had to eat on the highway. That meant most of the food was oily and spicy. I used to rest at random places. Once I was given a place in a garage to sleep in the afternoon. The garage was full of rats and in a bad state. I put 2-3 yoga mats and slept on top of that.

My crew refused painkillers. But the last two days were very bad. I took one painkiller every day then.

My Learnings

People are wonderful. I am really thankful to all the doctors who didn’t charge me a single paisa. Every city had people who used to wait for me. Some would give me bouquets, others gave me shawls, and some ran with me. On the road, randomly people would stop and ask for selfies. Some would run with me.

At Khambadti Ghat (between Pune and Satara), a truck driver asked, “Aap ke baare mein paper mein padha tha. Pune to Goa, na? Sab theek hain?” He arranged for ice-cubes after the ghats at a hotel. That was very surprising. These incidents enforced my faith in humanity.

Long distance running makes you humble; you value food, water and people. You get weak emotionally. Because of my crew I could survive eight days. They played a very big role at every stage. They kept motivating me, they would come on the road and cheerlead for me. All four of them– Santwana Bayaskar, Suyash Kamat, Shubhankar Kundaikar and Kaivalya Kayande, I am so grateful to them.

Raising Awareness

I visited a lot of colleges, schools and women’s self help groups along the way and spoke about child sexual abuse and how we can tackle it. At every place, there were people who said they had experienced some level of abuse. I realized that a lot of abuse can be stopped if we teach kids what abuse is at an early age. We should talk about good touch and bad touch in every school. Kids should know what rape is. If kids understand what this is, we can definitely bring these incidents down. I did spread the word.

We raised more than 1.5 lakhs. It’s March 18 now. We still have five days to raise more money. Just download the app and run. A lot more money can be raised.

What’s Next 

I hardly trained 20-25 days for this run. Ideally, you are  supposed to train for 6-7 months. The next time I do this I will focus more on core and distance training. I will give myself at least three months time before I plan on doing something like this again.

I have taken leave for three months from T.I.M.E. Now, I’ll work with an outdoors company for a couple of months taking young people on treks and adventure activities to places like Hrishikesh.