Shared Triumphs: A Guide Runner's Reflection on the TCS World 10K

Shared Triumphs: A Guide Runner's Reflection on the TCS World 10K


“Disability is in the mind, not body” - This is one of the quotes painted on the compound walls of Kanteerava stadium. I read this quote every time I ran the famed loop at Kanteerava Stadium. I would like to believe that this had a role to play when I decided on one of my running goals for 2024, to become a guide runner for Visually Impaired (VI) runners. I had two reasons behind this goal: firstly, I wanted to understand and work with differently-abled individuals, and secondly, I wanted to use running as a way to contribute to the community at large.

I came across two organizations while pursuing this goal: Guide Runners of India and Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF). Guide Runners of India has branches across India and is quite active in Bengaluru. They train with VI runners in Kanteerava Stadium. I’ve connected with them and joined them for a training run. There were a few VI runners and guide runners participating in the session.

The training kicked-off with a 10-minute warm-up session. Following that I ran with Nagesh (T13 classified VI runner). We ran a few loops outside the Kanteerava Stadium to cover 6 kilometers. During the run, I learned about various factors related to VI running, such as the various classifications of VI runners.

A week before the TCS 10K, on April 21st, I met with a group of VI runners from ABBF in Cubbon Park. Divyanshu, the founder of ABBF, spoke about the challenges faced by the visually impaired individuals. VI runners from the Samparka Trust also joined the session. The ABBF volunteers paired us with VI runners for the training run. Then we engaged in a walk/run in Cubbon Park.

The bibs were collected by ABBF for all the VI and allied runners. We also got special T-shirts, which we had to wear during the run. These T-shirts made it easy to differentiate us in the crowd.

Race Day

ABBF instructed us to assemble at the designated area at 4 a.m. This was important as the pairing of VI runner and ally runner was supposed to happen. ABBF volunteers divided the ally runners into groups of fast, medium, and slow runners. Then they paired the VI runners based on their abilities. Some of the VI runners, like Nagesh and Sunitha, were fast runners, capable of a 53-minute 10K run. We had 75 VI runners participate in TCS 10K.

I volunteered as a medium pacer. I was paired with Jeevan, a 19-year-old student from Chickmagaluru. It was going to be his first 10K, and he was both excited and a bit apprehensive about the challenging task ahead. We did a 5-minute warm-up and prepared ourselves for the challenge.

Waiting to reach the start line was a daunting task because of a record number of participants this year. We had to start our run after the runners of the last section crossed the start line. The official start time was 5:10 a.m., but by the time we crossed the start line, it was twenty-five minutes past the official start.

Our strategy was to start slowly, getting used to the road and running together. The first kilometer was about navigating through the crowd. We held each other’s hands for the first kilometer. After that Jeevan felt confident and started to run without holding my hand. I had to ensure he didn’t collide with fellow runners.

As he got comfortable, Jeevan wanted to pick up his pace, but I advised him to run easy for the first few kilometers and then pick up the pace in the second half. Clicking a few pictures near Vidhana Soudha, running in front of this iconic Bengaluru monument, was the best part of the race. Along the way, we cheered on our fellow runners. Some of them even joined us for a while. To keep him engaged and focused, I maintained conversation with him throughout the race, gaining insights into his life. His parents are farmers in Chikmagalur, and he has a younger brother who is also visually impaired and who was also running the TCS 10K.

I noticed numerous spectators cheering for the participants. Among them were familiar faces like Coach Prashanth DeviShetty from the Odu Running Club, ultra runner Ashwini Bhat, and Kevin Pereira from Procam. I made sure Jeevan exchanged greetings with them, which thrilled him as they cheered him on.

At the 5-kilometer mark, we paused for a water break. Near Ulsoor, we stopped for a glass of Fast n Up Reload, although Jeevan was tempted by a Cadbury Fuse bar, I advised against it. By the 7-kilometer mark, Jeevan began to tire after nearly an hour of running. We met Dr. Saraswathy, a fellow member of the Mangalore Runners Club, and my cousin Viveka, who cheered Jeevan on and even ran alongside us for 100 meters.

By the 8-kilometer mark, Jeevan was exhausted, so we switched to a run-walk routine. Motivating him became increasingly challenging at this stage, with Jeevan stopping to walk every 200-300 meters. I would then gently encourage him to keep going. The last section of the race was uphill, adding further challenge. We pushed ourselves and crossed the finish line in 1 hour and 23 minutes. It was a huge accomplishment for both Jeevan and me.

Jeevan celebrated the finish by wolfing down Cadbury Fuse Chocolate.Surprisingly, he then inquired about the location of a dustbin, as he wanted to dispose of the wrapper responsibly. It struck me that amidst the littered road, here was a visually impaired individual conscientiously searching for a bin.

Following the finish, we met the fellow ABBF runners and took obligatory pictures together, as we headed to the ABBF tent. The volunteers of ABBF had collected the finisher’s medals and breakfast packets for all of us. I offered Jeevan a ripe yellow banana and a cup of hot tea to replenish his energy. Together we posed for pictures with our well-deserved medals. It was a special and heartwarming experience for me.

This TCS 10K held a special significance for me as it offered a new perspective. Understanding the challenges faced by visually impaired individuals made me realize the immense difficulty they must endure. Yet, within the ABBF community, I witnessed nothing but radiant smiles on the faces of VI runners, reminding me of Helen Keller’s profound words, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”

Overall Experience

Being an ally runner was an incredibly enlightening experience. It extended beyond just running; it was about ensuring Jeevan’s comfort and safety. This experience shifted my focus from the usual personal time goals to supporting another runner. It was a refreshing change, and I truly enjoyed it. Seeing the genuine smile on Jeevan’s face as he crossed the finish line made all the effort worthwhile.


Rameshbabu is member of Mangalore Runners Club, and is coached by Runners360. He has been running for 10 years, and has run several half marathons across the world, and ran his debut marathon in Tata Mumbai Marathon 2024.

Request to Support

We dedicate signifcant time and resources to bring the content to you. This includes costs of hosting and the essential software. While we do receive occassional sponsorships, we put substantial resources to bring the content to Indian running community. If you like what we are doing, we kindly ask you to consider supporting us with a donation. Your contribution will motivate us to do more.