A few days back I got the honor of connecting with Ms. Toolika Rani. Through her, I got to know about another amazing lady who is none other than the Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the first Indian woman to run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari i.e. Sufiya Sufi. It’s a matter of pride for me to have known Sufiya personally by talking to her over the phone and being among her friends on Facebook. She is such a humble and sweet girl; doesn’t have the air of arrogance despite being a record holder! She considers all religions and human beings as equals and wants to convey the message of peace through all her expeditions. So, here’ the story of this iron-willed woman for you to get inspired to live the life of your dreams!
Sufiya Sufi World’s First Woman to Run From Kashmir to Kanyakumari
“The thought process behind this run was to spread the message of Humanity, Openness, Positivity, and Equality (HOPE)”Sufiya Sufi
Sufiya Sufi was born and brought up in Rajasthan’s Ajmer in India. She lost her father when she was just 16. Sufi was brought up by her single mother. In her childhood, Sufiya used to be an introvert not much interested in sports. But she loved classical dance and won state-level competitions in the same. After she grew up, she pursued a career in Aviation.
How She Started Running?
Sufiya started running at the age of 31 to maintain her mental and physical fitness. She worked for around ten years with various airlines as ground staff. Sufiya resigned from her job because she was denied a long leave for running her marathons. She started running not just for keeping herself fit but more to spread the message of peace and humanity among human beings.
While working in the Aviation industry Sufiya had no time to join any gym so to maintain her fitness she started running in 2017. Soon she started participating in marathons and long-distance events. Running, changed her mindset and she felt more equipped to deal with life.
Sufiya gets constant support and motivation from the love of her life, her life partner Vikas Saroha. He is her rock-solid support and mentor. Vikas himself is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the fastest Indian man to cover the distance between Kashmir to Kanyakumari on a bicycle in just 10 days. Both of them worked together in the Aviation industry and gave up their jobs to pursue their passions. They symbolize true love which lets people grow and progress in their lives.
The Road to Success
In April 2018, Sufiya became the fastest female runner to complete the Great Indian Golden Triangle Run. She completed 720 km in just 16 days and entered the India Book of Records. This success motivated her to take her message of humanity forward, and she made up her mind to run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This run comprising of 4000 km completed in 87 days made Sufiya enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Support from People
Sufiya always says that she found good support through the course of her run from people around. She was surprised by the hospitality and love that she received from Indians. She got to interact with the local people, who on seeing her running and joined her. During her run-in, Punjab, women, and young girls joined Sufiya wearing their slippers.
Sufiya feels running and interacting with people has helped her in shedding her own prejudices against people. When she started her run in Srinagar, she was joined by the Indian Army and locals. It was an eye-opening moment for her.
Sufiya believes there’s much hatred being spread on social media. She wanted to spread the message of peace humanity by running through the different regions of the country. She also got the opportunity to explore different places and cultures in India. Sufiya chose to be the ultra runner to spread the message of HOPE- Humanity, Oneness, Peace, and Equality through her run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
“We as human beings are losing our values, culture, humanity, brotherhood and most importantly respect for each other and to bring positivity among people of India I initiated this run,”Sufiya
People in different parts of India helped Sufiya generously during her ambitious run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari by donating her money, arranging her stay, giving her home-cooked food, etc wherever she went.
Her Challenging Historical Expedition
When Sufiya was running through Srinagar, she faced a lot of traffic, landslides, construction work dust, etc. Due to inhaling a lot of dust and smoke on the way, she developed a breathing problem as she reached Jalandhar. So she visited a hospital. After scanning her lungs, it was found that one of her lungs was infected and had collapsed. It took her 5 days to get discharged out of the hospital after being given a number of antibiotic drips. She even lost 5kgs of weight but like a real hero, Sufiya did not want to give up! She thought about the thousands of people who were hoping and praying for her. When it was difficult for her to stand up, she decided to run! Right after being discharged from the hospital, she ran 44 km!
Sufiya initially targeted to complete the entire stretch of 4000 km in 100 days but she completed her challenging expedition in 87days, 2 hours. This run is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records and is the first of its kind.
After handling so many challenges during this expedition, Sufiya now finds herself far stronger, confident and looking at life and people with much positivity. She calls it a lifetime experience for herself as she learned many new things from it as it gave her many new lessons and experiences in life.
Message for the Youth
Sufiya advises the youth of the country to aim for something big. She says, ‘Run for what you believe in. Being a woman if running is my passion and I want to make it my profession or career, nothing is better than that. Choose your passion as your profession, and create a wind of change in society.’