Yesterday, for the third (not consecutive) year, I took part in the most talked-about, the most hyped-up (and I mean it in a good way) running event in the Maldives.

Enter Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race 2018! An event that saw no less than 4,000 participants from 18 different countries, taking to the beautiful streets of Hulhumale’, dedicating their run to help protect children.

Being an uncle myself, this is a cause that has grown close to my heart, and I dedicate my run to all children out there, especially to my beautiful nieces–Shaikko and Aiza.

To say that it was a humbling experience is an understatement.

We had runners dashing like thunderbolts, and those who pride themselves as the people making fast runners look good. We also had differently-abled kids, youths, adults, senior citizens, and a mom carrying her baby in a sling, running and walking along with us, high in spirit, high on life. Their energy, resolve, and outlook towards life touched me in more ways than I can begin to describe.

In a colossal nod to Dhiraagu’s mantra of “bringing people and communities together,” I saw adept and seasoned runners helping and encouraging others struggling to continue to keep pace. I saw others stopping in their tracks, helping a kid on a wheelchair feel what it is like to zip against the wind, and the smiles on their faces were nothing short of heavenly. I saw runners from other countries, despite the obvious language barriers, cheering a differently-abled youth as he ran, and every other runner who paced down to pat him on the back and give him a word of encouragement as he inspired the rest of us running in his wake: do not give up!

In the course of our lives, many things catch our attention, but only a few affects us enough to do anything about it. Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race has most certainly stirred me into thinking deeply about this cause, and I intend to join hands with others in their noble quest to be a champion for the children. Any suggestions on how I can do this in a meaningful way is not only welcome but highly appreciated.

I congratulate Dhiraagu for managing to one-up themselves with every passing year. Organizing an event as grand as this involves getting right a lot of moving parts, and they seem to pull it off beautifully.

I also thank Dhiraagu for making the entire run a plastic-free event, and for reminding us of our role in protecting the environment as much as our children.

Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race most certainly has an ardent fan in me!