I know am talking about something as simple as saree as if it was a missile launch, but sometimes it does seem like one. However, not for all. There are some people who can pull off a great saree and do wonder in it. One may think what wonder could someone possibly do with a saree. Well, let me present to you 44-year-old Jayanthi Sampath Kumar who participated in the Hyderabad full marathon and covered the total distance of 42km in a less than five hours wearing saree and slippers. Not only did she achieve this feat, but also by doing so, she got herself a place in the Guinness world records.
Jayanthi started running eight years ago. In 2015, she participated in the Hyderabad marathon and ran her first 10K race later she started practising with other Hyderabad Runners. What started as a run in 5Km soon became 42 with constant practice for Jayanthi.
“The full marathon was difficult, and I wouldn’t be doing justice if I said it wasn’t. After completing the half marathon, I decided that my next goal would be the full marathon. What keeps me going is my family. My husband and I run together often.” Says Jayanthi.
What is astonishing is not the fact that she chose to run at this age, but the fact she chose to do it in saree. When asked what gave her the insane idea she says, “In a conversation with my husband I mentioned how my clothes occupy more cupboard space than his. That led to a New Year resolution – of wearing a saree a day. Having grown up seeing my mother and grandmother wear a saree every day, I knew that it was something that could be done. Also what helped was that I loved wearing sarees from various parts of the country.” Jayanthi has run a few 30km marathons in a saree and several 5km runs as well.
She recalls her first-time experiences and says, “Running in a saree wasn’t a breeze. The planning for this began five months ago; I tried running in a 6-yard, 9-yard, Maharashtrian style and Madisaar style of saree. I tripped and fell multiple times. Finally what worked for me was the madisaar style with some modifications and adjustments.I ran in a saree multiple times before attempting the full marathon – only because I wanted to be sure of all the challenges I might face.”
The idea of getting a Guinness record wasn’t the first goal, in fact, she didn’t know about it until she began to search for other people who ran in saree when found out that there was no one who has done it before, she wondered if this could make a record.
“I was surprised to find a category for ‘fastest marathon in a saree’. The minimum requirement was to complete the full marathon in under five hours. Guinness getting back to me was also a good motivation for me, While it was motivating to hear back from Guinness, for me the larger aim was to promote wearing handloom sarees and instil a sense of confidence in women clad in sarees.”
When asked what her source of inspiration was, she says it was her fellow runners. “I saw people much older than me running barefoot. People at the age of 70 going strong and running full marathons – these are truly inspirational stories. If I am able to run at that age, I will be a very happy person.”