“My father, Pushpendra Kumar Jain, is a 73-year old retired Professor of Physics from the University of Botswana. He has been regularly walking 5 to 6km every day at a pace of about 5.5 km per hour since he was 50 for health reasons that include diabetes, hypertension and cardiac issues.
During this period, he has had angiographies, three stent implants and a number of other procedures. However, he has not given up on his walking. After each cardiac procedure, he has picked himself up and started walking again, gradually increasing the pace, as he knew that this was the only way he could ensure his long-term health.
He did not get involved in “organized marathons” until he was 63 years old due to his heart condition, as he did not want to put extreme pressure on it by running. However, once I completed the 42km race in the Cape Town Marathon by brisk walking, he realised that his walking pace of 5 to 6 km per hour was good enough to participate in races.
Since then he has run/walked almost every 10km race in Gaborone, Botswana and has built himself a sizable collection of over 50 finisher’s medals.
Unfortunately, in 2018, he received a pacemaker and we all believed my father’s race career was over. However, my father could not wait to get out onto the open road and slowly tested himself, first with a 5km, then a 10km and then started participating in races again.
In January 2020, after 32 years of service to the University of Botswana and overall 50 years career as a Physicist on three continents, he decided to retire from an illustrious and impactful career. During his career he taught scientists, researchers, engineers, medicos as well as wrote hundreds of papers/books.
He also started voluntary service and social organisations, groomed future leaders and inspired countless people, including his children, with his intelligence, creativity and passion. After retirement, his races became even more important. Once the pandemic struck, Botswana went into strict lockdown, meaning my father could not go for his daily walk in the neighbourhood.
However, he maintained discipline and did many repetitive rounds in the housing compound every morning to ensure he got his exercise. But the races could not be organised, and it left my father feeling a little depressed. I decided that we should try virtual races.
First, we started with some online walks. Then I saw a once in a lifetime opportunity – a chance to participate in the greatest race of all time, “The Ultimate Human Race.”
The ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ virtual race went online and gave us all a fantastic opportunity. With it, came 5km and 10km entries for those of us at different fitness levels. Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, I registered my father for just the 5km.
He started at 6am with the outside temperature at 1 degree celsius, to be extra careful to uphold the Covid-19 distancing protocol when there was no one on the roads at such a cold early hour. And with that, he completed his first virtual race and what a way to begin!!
Meanwhile, I completed the 10km race while working in Melbourne and my brother did it in Cape Town. We can assure you that it has been a huge privilege to participate in this unique opportunity, which would have remained just a dream before this.
Thank you for choosing my story. I hope it inspires others to never give up on staying fit.”
The winner of this month’s Arnica Ice hamper is Shilpi Jain.