Four friends, one goal: Walking 100 kilometres in 24 hours

Oxfam Trailwalker will take place in Bengaluru from February 7 to 9.
Four friends, one goal: Walking 100 kilometres in 24 hours
Four friends, one goal: Walking 100 kilometres in 24 hours

A few years ago, Raja Imam Kasim received a somewhat unusual request from his childhood friend Yadalam Hari Kishore. Hari Kishore wanted his friend to participate in Oxfam Trailwalker, a 100-kilometre challenge in which teams of four must complete the distance in under 48 hours. 

Raja, a deputy superintendent of police in the Crime Department, was no stranger to outdoor exercise and physical activities, but “never had I walked beyond 25 kilometres continously, apart from route marches conducted during my training as a police sub-inspector,” he told TNM. Still he agreed to his friend’s request, and soon, two other old classmates joined the team – Kakarla Sreenivasalu and Jeetendra Kunhody. 

Now for the fifth year, Raja and Hari Kishore, both around 50 years old, will be taking part in Oxfam Trailwalker in Bengaluru, slated for to be held from February 7 to February 9. It passes through 30 villages, from Sultanpet to Olde Bangalore Resort, and starts on the edge of a valley in Nandi Hills. It took them 26 hours to finish the 100-kilometre route last year and “this year we’re targeting to complete it in 24 hours,” said Hari Kishore, who is the managing director of the Pragathi Group. While Jeetendra could not take part this year, the team of four will include two other old friends, Narasinga Rao and Deepak Shetty. Kakarla Sreenivasalu will be participating as part of the support team. 

The friends, who grew up in Ballari, have known each other since kindergarten and studied together until pre-university. Though they kept in touch after their schooling, their careers took them in different directions, from engineering to civil services. It was only after their first Oxfam walk in 2016 that a new tradition – and a reason to catch up regularly – was born. 

“The Oxfam 2016 event brought us closer,” said Raja. What’s more, it also became a way for them to stay fit and focussed on their health. “Participating in Oxfam not only helped us get into a fitness regimen, it also changed our outlook towards life – be it professional or personal life,” he added. 

In the lead-up to the event, they create a practice plan and meet up weekly for long and short walks. 

“The idea of weekend workouts served the purpose of training as well as de-stressing,” said Raja, “As part of training ourselves, we started participating in 10Ks (TCS, Bangalore Marathon) runs, 21K Heritage Runs.” As the event nears, long-distance walks in places like Nandi Hills also become a part of their training. 

This year is the ninth edition of Oxfam Trailwalker, which also includes a 50-kilometre walk that must be completed in 24 hours. Fundraising is also an important part of the event as well, with donations going into Oxfam India’s projects on education, health, gender, forest rights and others. The Trailwalker event takes place in 17 locations across the world.

When asked which parts of the event he looks forward to the most, whether it’s the exercise, being outdoors, or quality time with friends, Hari Kishore responds, “All put together. All those things appeal to us.” 

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