Mumbai: abandoned by her husband, single mother now runs to live

MUMBAI: The resident of Nalasopara has reached the podium of the winners in many events in recent years, but it is her personal value story that most inspires fellow runners.

Verma, a 38-year-old single mother who survived an abusive marriage, worked before one of the memsahibs helped her start running professionally.

Today, Verma, mother of a 19-year-old boy, makes a living just by running. While he refuses to reveal how much he earns, he said: “When I finish on the podium, I get something like Rs 20,000. Collectively, this income helps me survive.

Given that Verma finished on the podium in 14 of the races he ran until 2019, it would be safe to assume he exceeded Rs 2 lakh, considerably more than a domestic help would earn in a year.

She is not yet an elite marathon runner, a title that requires women to complete the 42km race in approximately 3:05 hours, but finished on the Tata Mumbai Marathon podium held in January with a time of 3:52: 58 hours .

Running, although considered a nascent sport in India, is estimated to be a $ 200 million business. The tribe of local elite marathoners is growing slowly but surely. In the West, winning races offer large dividends: most marathons offer special prices for runners who finish the race in a specific period (say $ 1,000 to finish less than 2:11 hours for men and 2:28 for women) and the winner earns tens of thousands of dollars. The first runner in the London Marathon, for example, receives more than $ 50,000.

8 years after starting as a broker, left a mark

Verma lived in Kolkata before moving to Mumbai at eight years of age. He married at the age of 17 with an alcoholic who abandoned her and her son four years after their wedding. Forced to fend for herself and her daughter, Seema took strange jobs, including being a domestic help. There were days when he had to lock his son at home to go to work.

One of Verma's employers, who knew about her love for sports, urged her to start running to supplement her income. It was also the time when Verma was learning karate. His parents were not encouraging, since they wanted him to concentrate on getting a job and raising his son. Under the circumstances, it was not easy for her to have free time to train for a marathon, but slowly over the next two years she improved running.

Now, eight years after starting his journey as a runner, Verma has crossed a personal milestone: it just depends on his passion for running to survive.